Five life lessons from the movie Fight Club

Fight Club is one hell of a movie. It not only has a gripping story, but also contains many life lessons hidden in the story. If you have not yet watched the movie, stop reading this article and go watch it..

Fight Club contains great messages about life and its never ending desires. It tells you to live a life without fear and distractions. It is certainly one of my favorite movies for many reasons. Here are five top life lessons one can learn from this movie –

1. You are the cause, not the fault
Whatever happens in your life, it is no accident. You are at the cause of it, and not at fault. There is no point blaming yourself or anybody else or any situation for your life. It takes a moment to take a decision, to take responsibility of your life and start working towards what is important to you. You can sit around and do nothing and cry about how you have no power, or go out in the world, and start making a difference. You might not have control over the situation, but you always have control over how you react to it, and that is the only thing that matters.

I say never be complete.  I say stop being perfect.  I say let's evolve.  Let the chips fall where they may

I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let's evolve. Let the chips fall where they may

2. Get rid of fear, doubt, ifs and buts
Whenever you decide to do something, you will always find excuses if you want to. There will always be ifs and buts, and fear of stepping into the unknown. Get rid of these doubts, overcome fear and keep a clear focus as Tyler Durden does in the movie and get it done. Whether you want to get a new job, or start a new business, or remove hunger and poverty from the world, you will face challenges. The only way you can overcome them is to have a strong will, ability to persuade others to your cause and to stay on target despite all problems which life throws at you.

3. Best time of life is when you live in the NOW
Life is ending one minute at a time. Either you can ponder, worry over the past and the future, or you can choose to live in the NOW. Believe it or not, the only moment you have is this one, and this one, and this one. This is how life passes by when we are busy making big plans for it. Start enjoying the small things in each moment. Hear the drops of rain falling on the floor, let the smell of the wet mud capture you, feel and cherish as you see people smile and laugh, listen to the birds perching, and so on. You are going to die one day. Don’t wait for someday to start living life, instead do amazing things right now.

4. Do something for someone else
There is a scene in the movie where Tyler Durden takes a young store clerk behind the store and puts a gun to his head.  He scares the shit out of the young guy, then he asks him what he wants to do with his life.  He ends up saying that he would like to be a veterinarian.  Tyler then tells him he is keeping his license and he is going to check in on the young man, if he isn’t on his way to becoming a veterinarian in a few weeks… Tyler will kill him.  A bit drastic agreed, but as Tyler Durden explains… ”Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted. ”  We should try to have an impact on someone else’s life.  And believe me, if feels awesome when you do so.

5. Materialism is a trap
To be truly happy you don’t need more stuff, you build what people or nature can’t take away from you. Stuff like knowledge, memories and inner strength. Hanging in hip cafes smoking cigarettes doesn’t make you creative. Your job, the money in your bank, the car you drive doesn’t define you. You are defined by what you accomplish and create. I am not saying give up everything you have. But I am saying don’t let your stuff own you so that they don’t allow you to live the life you want to.

How letting go of SaleRaja could be one of my best decisions ever?

It was December 2009, and although I was still working on SaleRaja, it was now more as a burden than for interest. I was stumbling in the timelines for feature changes that I had set myself, my enthusiasm was low and I was unsure about what the future had in store for me and SaleRaja. Finally, after managing SaleRaja alone for the whole of 2009, I decided to let it go and focus on my career through a job. That means I was soon looking for a job when at one time I thought that I would not have to find another job ever. My motivation levels were at an all-time low, and I was confused and unsure about what next?

But I decided to take a break from entrepreneurship, focus on my career through a normal job, and come back to entrepreneurship some years later. It was not an easy decision, and it took me around six months of consideration to finally stop running SaleRaja as a business. Looking back now, 16 months after that decision, I can laugh over those uncertain times and say that it might be one of the best decisions I ever took. The first few months were tough, as I was confused, low on confidence and struggling to find a direction in life. But after that, and till now, the going has been wonderful. I have done things in the last one year that I never thought I could, and would do, ever. I am listing below everything for which I am really grateful in this past year.

I had always been good at writing, but used my writing skills only when writing letters, emails, or when somebody asked my help with it. Hence, in January 2010, I started as a blog where I would write about different things I feel about, my experiences, my life, etc. I could only do so because I was free and there were no SaleRaja deadlines to follow. It was not easy at first, and I was not able to write more than one post per week. Writing was like a pain in the ass and I had to put in a lot of concentration, patience and effort to research about a topic and write an article. But slowly and steadily, I started enjoying writing and I am writing around 15 articles every month now. Many of my articles have been well received and been shared a lot through social media like facebook, twitter, etc. Now I have plans of writing and getting a book published in 5 years.

Reading Books
I started reading books during the last few months of 2009 when I was struggling with SaleRaja, but I made it regular only after Jan 2010. I started reading two books every month and have been following this practice till now. I have read autobiographies, self help books, and a few business and fiction books too. These books have allowed me to take a peek into the stories of so many men and women, and the perspective of life I got after that have been amazing. I have a small, but good library now and have a lot of books in my to-read list.

A screenshot from

A screenshot from

Landmark Education
Right after SaleRaja, I was looking for some kind of education to fill in the gaps in my skills which I had found during my stint with SaleRaja. I looked at MBA options, some short time courses done by IIMs and other B-schools, but nothing interested me. I started finding groups online related to business, entrepreneurship and started meeting like minded people in Bangalore, but that also didn’t sustain. Then I enrolled myself in the various programs of Landmark Education since July 2010, and am continuing this education even now. This could not have come at a better time for me. It has helped me get my confidence to a new level and clear a lot of doubts about life. Also, I met a lot of people through Landmark Education who are very successful and leading wonderful lives, providing inspiration and support. I can without doubt say this last seven-eight months of Landmark has been the best education of my life. It is ironical how we keep studying about specific skills / courses but never study anything about life and living in general.

Joined Yahoo
Yahoo, Google and a few more are the dream companies of many people. I was open to both startups and big companies when I started looking for a job again, and found myself in Yahoo in March 2010. Having spent the last one year here, it has given me my first experience of working in a multinational company. Dealing with different people and teams from Singapore, Brazil, Europe and US over the last year has given me much needed exposure about how work happens across continents, cultures and languages. In the future too, I am sure there is a lot I can gain from Yahoo and working here.

Waste Management Activities
In September 2010, I got intrigued by the idea of waste management and thought of a business idea around it. Since starting a new business was out of question, I got involved in waste management related activities in Bangalore to know more about its details. I took an initiative to implement waste management in apartments starting November 2011 and have got a decent response from that. I have met a lot of people who are already working in this area and am totally amazed by their energy levels. They have been a great inspiration about how to to live life responsibly. It also gave me the confidence to take new initiatives in any area, irrespective of my skills and knowledge in that area.

Dandi March 2
In March 2011, I got a chance to organize an anti-corruption walk in Bangalore. In less than three weeks, I put together a team and on 26 March, over 400 people walked over 11km under 4 hours to make this walk a huge success. These three weeks were one of the best of my life, with all my learnings in the past year put to test. I got confidence like never before after this event, and the Anna Hazare magic caught the attention of the whole nation soon after that. It was during this time only that some articles written by me attracted huge traffic from google as people searched for anti-corruption keywords on the internet. The success of this walk is the reason nothing seems impossible now to me.

What Next?
Although I have gained a lot in the last one year, I very clearly see a long journey ahead with lots to learn and do. I am in the most calm and peaceful state of mind that I have ever been, and with confidence that I can take on anything now. It has not been all uphill too in the last year, and I have tasted some setbacks too, but I have surprised myself with how well I have handled myself during these breakdowns. I have taken the lessons from the mistakes I have committed without getting frustrated and upset, and moved on to newer things. For the remaining of 2011, I have atleast two more initiatives lined up in the social space, so watch out in the coming weeks for more updates 🙂

Update – Pick a Fight was born soon after I wrote this post

Five Lessons from the movie “Chak De India”

Sports can often highlight the need for values like teamwork, honesty, transparency similar to the way these values are needed in life. Sports can end up uniting an otherwise divided crowd cheering for a team. The joy and pride when thousands of people celebrate together, click photographs of the national tricolor flying high after a sports victory is indescribable. Chak De India was one such movie which depicts the values it takes to build a match-winning team and what it takes to achieve something which at one point didn’t seem possible. I will list down five lessons from Chak De India, which are very relevant in the Indian context.

1. We are Indians first
We have to see ourselves as Indians first, above any affiliations with state, caste, language, religion, etc. When we seek to achieve something for India and from a national sense, our affiliations with caste, state, etc will only create divisions and barriers which will hinder our objective. If we have to keep our focus on the goal, we have to remove all other distractions from our mind.

2. Discipline
Discipline is like the spinal column which holds the whole body together. Discipline has to be a component of one’s daily lives in the discharge of one’s duties. It is required at the personal level, then at the level of society and institutions. Discipline is something which unites a country or society. It means waking up on time, not breaking the traffic rules while going to office, treating others with respect and care, and using your words wisely.

There is a lot to learn from Chak De India

There is a lot to learn from Chak De India

3. Play our role
All of us have an individual role to play according to our merits. We might have a larger objective and vision as part of a country, society or team but we will have a very specific role to play for which we are best suited. It is important we focus our total undivided energy in fulfilling this role enthusiastically while keeping the larger picture in mind. If everybody does their own task as it is supposed to be done, all our dreams for our nation will be easily achieved.

4. National Interest over Personal Interest
We have to put the interest of the nation above our personal interests in order to achieve results over a longer period of time. We will have to overcome our ego and personal biases if we have to achieve something for the nation. We have a limited time on earth, but the nation will outlive us, and we have to see that our actions fulfill this vision even after we are gone.

5. Short Term vs Long Term
It is very important to see how our actions are important in the long term too. We might have to take some steps, which don’t look so fruitful in the short term but are valuable in the long term. In other words, we will have to make some short term sacrifices for long term glory. Long term values like patience, loyalty, trust, credibility and honesty are very important in this regard.

5 of my Favorite Movies with Lessons

Rocky Balboa

Rocky Balboa

1. Rocky Series

The perfect dose of motivation! After watching the Rocky series, you will be pumping with adrenaline and willing to do everything for which you once thought you were not good enough. Such is the impact of Rocky. The Rocky theme song is my alarm tone and it has helped me get up early in the morning since a long time now. And everytime you are down, just watch these movies and you will be back. And the way Sylvester Stallone came back to deliver a stunning sixth movie in the series, it looks like he lives the character he plays in Rocky. It makes you believe in yourselves. These are the movies you want to show to your kids, friends, your parents… those you love. Worthwhile for people of all ages.

2. Remember the Titans
Denzel Washington packs in a powerful performance in this story of integration of white and black players in TC Williams High School Football team amidst racism in the 70s. The fact that it is based on a true story gives more reasons why it must be on your must watch-list. Great, great film with great dialogues and performance from others too, apart from Denzel. It is a story about how we can overcome our differences and rise together for the larger cause. This is the movie you want to watch if you want to feel motivated and feel better about the world.

3. GroundHog Day
Sometimes it takes us a supernatural experience to realise how we should live our lives. This movie shows how Bill Murray is forced to take a relook at his attitude towards life after being caught in a time warp. This movie is not only funny but also ends with a moral. It shows us how we should be really living our lives. Infact, most of us just pass through live, with only a few of us “living” it. Giving your best to everybody and making the best out of every situation without getting caught up in trivial matters is the essence of this movie. Life is meant to be explored and not to be feared of. People are meant to be loved. We can see any situation as a disappointment or as an opportunity to give our best of the world. Everytime your mind is working overtime to find out the solutions to life, just watch this movie!

4. The Pursuit of Happyness
This is one movie which will help you keep your feet on the ground. The story of how a man passes through difficult circumstances, both financially and personally, to pursue a dream job just shows what we can achieve only if we have complete belief in ourselves. Will Smith packs in a powerfull performance, maybe his best! This movie shows that if you earn success overcoming a lot of hardships and challenges, its taste is all the more sweeter. And this movie shows that no-one can stop you from doing something if you “really” decide to do it. Through our will power, the biggest mountains can be moved. So the take away from this movie should be – Find your Dream, and go all out in pursuing it. There will be obstacles along the way, but enjoy them rather than regret them. And don’t let the talks of others worry you, because you know, when you succeed, it will be sweet 🙂

5. Gandhi
The story of a man who needs no introduction. But his story is not about the way he evicted the Britishers without force or violence. His story is the conquest of the human mind over the many insecurities we face in life. It is the story of self discipline and courage under pressure. It is the story of sticking to what you believe in, in the face of fear, intimidation and violence. It is about how a man developed a unquestionable character and integrity. Gandhi stood and fought for the truth and truth only, and never against British. All his actions, movements and satyagrahas were inspired by his unwavering belief in the principle of truth. Read his autobiography “My Experiments with Truth” to know more about the amazing man and his thoughts, that are still as much valid as a century ago.