Still 5 more Lessons of Wisdom from the Peaceful Warrior

Peaceful Warrior doesn’t seem to stop amazing me everytime I watch it. Depending on what state of mind you are in, this movie presents you different insights from the wonderful dialogue delivery and scenes depicted in the movie. For me, this movie is much more than just a movie, it is a piece of art – a wonderfully scripted and executed version of the book – The Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Start Looking Inside for Answers
Traditionally we have always looked for answers to our questions in the outside world. We do so by seeking knowledge, advice, different tools, technologies and products from the outside world. But after a momentarily phase of satisfaction, we tend to come to the same questions sooner or later. This movie, at various different points, depicts that the answers to the most difficult of our questions actually lie inside, which is very difficult and confronting for most of us to believe. But if we start seeking inside and getting present to everything in a totally new way, we can be amazed by the things we discover. I guess this power we get from the inside is the same stuff highlighted by different religions and philosophers and spiritual leaders, albeit in very different ways.

Keep a Good Sense of Humor about Ourself
A wonderful strength to have is to keep a good sense of humor, especially about ourselves. Many times we end up taking our lives too seriously in the quest of goals and achievements, and miss a lot of fun and happiness in the process. Having a good sense of humor about ourselves certainly helps take things lightly and not let them become stress or tension. If we can laugh at ourselves, we can blunt out the edges of jokes targeted at us, and everyone can have some good fun. Life is too short to take yourself too seriously, and if you can be the reason for some good laughs, you should be proud you are proving helpful in providing others a few moments of happiness.

When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him. —Thomas Szasz

When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him. —Thomas Szasz

If you Get what you Want, You Suffer. If you Don’t, you still Suffer
The biggest lie we say to ourselves is – “If I get this result, or achieve that goal, I will be happy.” When we tie our happiness to the outcome of our goals, like most humans do, we suffer when we don’t get what we want. But even if we get what we want, we still suffer, because then there are bigger goals and milestones waiting as time moves on. Time doesn’t stop at the instant where we won something and are jubilant, and since time always moves on, we can’t hold on to that victory. The whole cycle repeats itself over and over again.

Life is beautiful in its surprises and unpredictability. We can never predict what is going to happen or not, but if we tie ourselves to ONE goal or result, we will miss all other unexpected results and joys life will throw in the way. Being in a space of being ‘not sure‘ what to find will allow us to welcome everything that comes our way. And this is a fact, whether we accept it or not. It is true that we will never have control over what happens to us in the future. It is the JOURNEY what brings us happiness, not the DESTINATION.

Life is about Absolute Vulnerability
This movie depicts wonderfully that true courage lies not in victory or perfection, but in absolute vulnerability. The ability to step out of our comfort zones and get into zones where we are fully vulnerable will decide how alive we feel in every moment. It is also very often called as ‘living on the edge‘ when we are aware of every step and every breath we take with our full attention without letting the unnecessary clutter of the past and the future getting in the way. And it needs courage to live life like that, and can lead to a truly amazing experience of life, rather than just living for results and achievements.

There is No Starting or Stopping, Only Doing
When Socrates asks Dan to resume his training after the accident, Dan had no clue how was that even possible, or where to start? To this Socrates said, “There is no starting or stopping, only doing.” The only thing we have, and will always have, is “right now“. Everything else we think we have or aspire to have is just an illusion. Right NOW, this moment is the only reality, and in this reality there is no starting or stopping, but only doing. If we can pay all attention to our doing and throw out everything else in our mind, we can achieve a new level of performance in what we are actually doing and will most likely end up producing amazing results.

Why I keep putting my fingers in the electric socket?

As a kid, I used to have a knack of putting my fingers in the electric sockets at home. Worse, as my parents have told me many times, I knew to turn on the switch before sliding my finger. My parents say they used to pull me, or block the sockets with tapes to prevent me getting electric shocks, but still I remember a few times I was left with burnt fingers. One incident which I very clearly remember is when I put two ends of a copper wire into a socket and turned the switch on. There were sparkles and cracking sounds which left me with black hands and shit scared. I think I escaped getting electrocuted that day because my little experiment took the fuse of the whole house with it. That was the LAST time I played with electric wires and sockets. Lesson well learnt.

So why am I telling you this story? Let me try to answer this with another question. Do you think my parents never told me that playing with electricity was dangerous? They did, but I never listened. Well, until that day when I had black fingers to show and a lot of sparkling to wreak havoc with the house fuse. But I never repeated the act after that. Because I had scars to show for my mistake and I have learned my lesson well.

I just want to show off my scar proudly and not be afraid of it. - Carly Simon

I just want to show off my scar proudly and not be afraid of it. - Carly Simon

So here is the point – The lessons we learn best are the ones those leave us with scars to show. Without the scar, there is no incident ingrained in our memory (like I remember this incident even after 25 years). Without the scar, it is like the event never happened. You can learn about things by reading books, watching videos or doing any alternate learning, but nothing can match learning by directly being in action. Because when you read a book, there are no consequences of a ‘mistake‘ you just read about, so in a way nothing was learnt at all. You can remember a book and its lessons for a few days, but you will never forget a lesson which has a personal imprint in your memory because it had consequences (a scar, a burnt hand, or whatever).

The habit to be safe looks good and noble on the outside, but it very dangerous. Let me explain why? Any lesson learnt from somebody else’s mistake makes you miss the most important part of learning, which is seeking answers to your questions. We all have numerous questions as a kid, but in an attempt to act safe, we rarely ask the questions when we grow up and miss the chance to become stronger and better prepared for the future. (that doesn’t mean you jump into fire to see if it is hot or not)

Lessons learned from a painful experience can hurt, but they are necessary. You can’t learn from a lecture how it feels to race your bike and then fall down on the road. Only when you feel the pain in your bones and see your blood when your skin scratches against the road, you will learn the lesson properly as there is pain, fear and you can feel your heart beats right to your core. No book can replace that feeling.

Why you should keep putting your fingers in the socket too?

There is a process of life – of trying something new, finding hurdles, getting hurt, trying again and then succeeding and moving on to bigger hurdles. Through this cycle only people change the world, start new companies, and do the unthinkable. Don’t break this cycle by reading about how to avoid getting hurt. Find your hurdles and then learn your lessons in overcoming it. That curiosity and desire within all of us is the seed of something big. When we act safe, we kill that seed and never give it a chance to blossom into a beautiful flower.

Let that seed grow. Stop being safe and expand the size of the tasks you take on. And it is not something we have to learn new, because as kids we all do that. We jump a distance, then try bigger and bigger distances. Obviously there will be some pain to feel and some scars to show. Do you have any scars to show which resulted in some achievement in your childhood? Do you have some stories revolving around your scars which you tell people with pride?

You are grown up now and are more mature. But that doesn’t and shouldn’t stop you from going out and playing bigger games. Get some new scars to be proud of, some new memories to share, and some new lessons for the future. You need to feel the pain as long you are alive. Without the pain, there is no joy. And without pain and joy, there is no life.

Five more lessons from Peaceful Warrior

As I wrote in my previous article on Peaceful Warrior and the lessons from it, I watch this movie quite often. It tend to dissolve my doubts and questions and give me a new insight every time I watch it. And there is a lot more to learn from this movie than what I wrote in that article. Hence in this article I am penning down five more lessons to be learnt from it.

Knowledge and Wisdom

One of the most important phrases in Peaceful Warrior is “Knowledge is knowing, wisdom is doing it“. It highlights that knowledge and wisdom are not the same. We might have all the knowledge in the world, but it is only worth if we apply it in the real world. And that is wisdom. Most of us know exercising is good for health, smoking is bad for health, and so on. But how many of us apply this knowledge into actions. We can learn and gather knowledge, but the same is not true for wisdom. Wisdom is for the soul whereas knowledge is for the mind.

Be Here, and experience This Moment fully NOW

Be Here, and experience this Moment fully NOW

Learn to Meditate in Every Action

This movie depicts that a Peaceful Warrior learns to meditate in every action of his day to day life. Meditation is not really about going to the Himalayas and sitting in peace but learning to fully experience each and every moment of our busy and turbulent lives. Meditating in this way helps us to slow down the pace of our life while being able to fully experience the love and joy in the smallest of things, like the sound of birds, the different smells around us, or the different people we see.

Not knowing is a Great Realization

In the movie, Nick Nolte says that not knowing is a great realization. It is a very ambiguous statement but at the same time, very powerful. There will be times in our lives when we will not know what is happening or which direction our life is heading. This ‘not knowing‘ phase is perfectly ok to be in, and it is during this phase that we often make great discoveries about our life and its purpose. There is a popular quote by Joseph Campbell which sums up this point wonderfully well, “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

Live and Decide Consciously 

Many of the times, we live on auto-pilot. We normally take our decisions based on some set rules or customs and rarely use our rational mind. We must always be conscious about our choices and then responsible for the consequences. We are very good at taking a decision because of the norm and then blaming the norms when things didn’t go well. When we take a decision, we must be brave enough to own its outcomes, both positive or negative. And we must really strive to make each decision we take our ‘own‘.

Life is a Mystery, Dont Waste Time Trying to Figure it Out

Nick Nolte says in the movie, “The mind is just a reflex organ. It reacts to everything. Fills your head with millions of random thoughts a day. None of those thoughts reveal any more about you than a freckle does at the end of your nose.” It might look like a simple statement, but it has a very deep message too. That we are not our thoughts. Our mind is always filled with guilt about some past mistake, blame for others or just worries about the past or the future. But realizing that this is not us but only a function of our mind can give all of us freedom.

Now that I look at what I have written, I think I can write down even five more lessons (or words of insight) from this movie. But I will leave it to another time and article. You will certainly have to watch this movie multiple times to discover the different hidden messages in the words of Nick Nolte. Everytime I watch it, I get something new based on what my mindset and life situation is at that time.

8 More Lessons from SaleRaja and other start-ups I have been associated with

Recently I wrote about some of the important lessons I learned after working with SaleRaja and other startups. I was pondering over this article and I realized I can think of many more points which I can write about. So below are 8 more lessons which I came up after reflecting on those days spend building some amazing products with SaleRaja, InfoEdge and Jivox.

8. Spend wisely

As a startup your balance sheet will be in the red in the first few years as you build the infrastructure, teams and systems for the future. Hence it is very important to monitor and control what you spend and for what purpose. Even if you have secured funding, you never know which way the economy turns in the future. The point is to always have cash in the bank to act as a cushion in tough times.

9. Networking

Big corporations are people independent, i.e. , they never depend heavily on any one or a few people for their business to survive. It is because of this that they can hire in big numbers, and even fire people easily in hard times. In startups though, the commitment to the company by employees is very important. Similarly, each employee is very critical to the company and it can’t afford losing an employee as it might impact their business. Due to this, the hiring in startups (at least the initial hirings) normally happen through networking and personal contacts as trust in the employee – employer relationship is very critical for startups. And networking is not only useful in hiring but in other business aspects too.

Beginning is Half Done

Beginning is Half Done

10. Have Fun Along the Way

I have always believed in the idea that if we love what we do, it is not work but more like play. And while doing different tasks during a typical day, it is very important to have fun and not get too serious. A team of people working who smile and have fun with each other in a casual atmosphere will always have more productivity. So in your team, play some games, pull somebody’s leg, take out time for discussions other than work, or whatever, but don’t miss to have FUN. This might be an exaggeration, but see what happened during a night out in my first job.

11. Do everything – customer service to sales to coding

As a co-founder or starting member of a startup, you should try to do everything to get a pulse of the whole business. That would mean doing coding with your engineers, being involved with your marketing team, going out on sales calls with your sales team and also hearing customer complaints and feedback. This will keep you well informed of what is happening in the whole ecosystem around your business and will help you make better decisions.

12. Do your Business Ethically

It is important to follow both the legal and ethical laws of the land where you operate your business. Being ethical will help you in fostering a long term relationship with your customers. Any success that is attained without the foundation of ethics is bound to be short lived, as lies and scams tend to come out sooner or later. The primary objective of business is not just to maximize profits, but it is also to be a responsible citizen in a just society and working in a way that benefits all its stakeholders.

13. Make Mistakes, but Don’t Repeat

It is only human to make mistakes, and as you start a new business, you will also make few. But the important lesson here is to not keep repeating them. We must take enough risks for our business to grow, but also be wise enough to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. We just need to make ‘new and better‘ mistakes going into the future. As for me, I am really glad for the mistakes I have made.

14. Mature with Time, but Don’t Grow up..

As our business grows and we reap success, we grow more mature and this maturity starts reflecting in our daily lives as well as our business decisions. But as a startup, it is very important not to loose what makes you special in the first place. It is always good to be a little crazy, keep having fun along the way and not get too serious. It is ok to risk, and it is ok to fail.

15. Don’t accept Failure as an Option

One of the most important word you have to stop listening when starting something new is ‘NO‘. So no matter what, in the face of a NOs, keep on finding new ways of achieving the objective, but never give up. Try out a lot of things, and go with the things that work. When things are not going well, take a break, do something which inspires you, but after that, get back to it with relentless persistence. Remember, failure is not an option.

5 Lessons from the movie Jab We Met

Jab We Met is a break from the normal movies we get year after year. It is a refreshing take on love and how to live life powered by sparkling performances by Shahid and Kareena. I think this is the best role Kareena has ever portrayed, and that has breathed life into the movie. Jab We Met is not only entertaining, it also has deep lessons about how to live our lives and has close resemblance to many of the problems we face in our daily lives and how we react to them. It is cute yet sensible, stupid yet enjoyable, and silly yet leaves a impression on you.

It is a break from vulgarity, senseless comedies and rona-dhona type movies that we are being fed these days, and some scenes and dialogues are just superb. This movie appealed to movie goers of all age groups and left a deep impression on many of them. Many of my friends (and I myself) have watched it multiple times. Like I have done with Peaceful Warrior and GroundHog Day, I am listing 5 big takeaways from Jab We Met…

Choose your decisions

Many times it happens that some decisions are forced upon us, or we are obliged to take them either to look good, or just to follow some norms or patterns. What this movie shows is how important it is to ‘choose‘ and accept these decisions at ours and devote ourselves and our energy fully into it. There is no point in doing something half heartedly only because that ‘you were pushed into it‘. Give yourself fully to what you are doing, or don’t do it at all. Period

Every decision has a consequence, accept that

Every decision you take (or choose not to take) will have its consequences. They could be good in case of success or bad (unexpected) in case of failures or unforeseen circumstances. We should always take full responsibility of our actions, whether positive or negative, and never run away from them. Running away is never a solution, like our adorable couple finds out in the movie. And accepting negative results doesn’t mean feeling sorry or guilty about that, it means learning our lessons and moving on with living life. Every moment spent repenting a past mistake is another mistake. So take full responsibility of your actions, and continue moving ahead and doing what you do best.

Enjoy every moment

I see life as one short journey on this earth, which has a start and an end. And we don’t know when the end will happen. So there is no point dying before the end (as Shahid Kapoor was shown living in the beginning of the movie). We all have only limited moments, and life is too short to waste even one moment on any kind of negative emotion like hate, guilt or anger. Kareena’s role in the first half of the movie is the best example of ‘Enjoying Every Moment‘ philosophy. She does what she likes to do, and in her own way. It might make her look stupid (being a complete chatterbox) sometimes, but who cares, as she is enjoying every moment and having real fun in life. I remember one dialogue – “Main Apni Favorite Hoo” (I am my favorite) which is the perfect example of loving yourself.

Don't PASS through life, LIVE it

Don't PASS through life, LIVE it

Enjoy Loving Someone

When you love someone, it is not always necessary that they love you back. But if you turn off your love because of it, then I guess it was not even love in the first place. You can still enjoy loving the other person and doing / giving your best. Shahid Kapoor’s role in the movie is ample demonstration of that. After all, what could be better than seeing the one you love happy. They might not love you back, but that’s okay, as everyone is not so lucky. But that is no reason to stop loving someone and being deprived of that wonderful feeling. If you feel that it is not easy, then you just have to get bigger than your fears, insecurities and selfishness.

Don’t just PASS through life, LIVE it

Life will pass by even if we don’t do anything. We can either PASS through a smooth plane ride, or we can go out, take risks, breathe fully, maybe get some injuries in the process, and have one hell of a ride. Do what you LOVE, or don’t do it at all. Don’t say YES when you mean NO. Don’t do something and dream something else. I call this self-torture. Don’t put yourself to living this life of torture. I will summarize this point and end by this quote –

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a Ride!