Failure is not about doing something wrong, but more times it’s about not doing anything at all.
Every time we run from fear, we run towards failure.
The greatest failure of all is the fear of failure itself.
People are attracted to fear as much as they are repelled by it. The adventurous nature which is lying dormant in all of us awakens to the raw, unrestrained elixir of fear and it gives them an incredible high, when they embrace it. Which is why we have mountain climbers, sky jumpers, deep sea divers, extreme sports athletes, etc. And yet, the same others who, as opposed to being energised, are paralysed by it and recede behind their shells are getting into the other side of the same emotion, resulting in paralysis, stagnation, and eventual deterioration. Either we embrace our fear and vow to conquer it, or give in to the paralysis fear brings and succumb to the failure that comes with it.
What doesn’t paralyse you energises you.
The difference is fear. The same thing that you see as fear, others see as impetus. After all, what is the great difference between tears of joy and tears of frustration? One is embracing, the other one is paralysing. You cannot have one without the other. Unless you go through tears of frustration, pain, and despair, how can you possibly feel or be swept by tears of joy or ecstasy?
Fear is an attitude.
One man looks at the same thing and says, “Beautiful.” The other man says, “Disaster.” The point is that beauty and beast are not different. They exist simultaneously.
Fear is beautiful to some. There are some people who gladly step off a plane while 15k feet from the ground. To others, it strikes unimaginable terror in their hearts. I know people who would rather be grilled over open fire than step into a roller coaster such as the cyclone. Interestingly, children are the least affected by it. The conditioning and brainwashing that life forces us to undergo creates layers and layers of fear that impale us and propel us to virtually run in the exact opposite direction – thereby making us indomitable failures.
Ultimately, fear is the best way, if not the only way, to compel us to do what we exactly need to do in order to succeed. Thus, running away from it means that we are running away from success and running towards failure.
Every one of us makes hundreds of micro-decisions every single day, from the smallest tasks to major life-changing decisions. Whether simple or complex, decisions are an inherent part of our lives, and making better and swifter decisions helps improve our productivity and our ability to manage our lives. While there are no hard and fast rules for decision-making, based on my own experiences over the years, I have put together a simple 7-step guide to help you master the art of decision-making.
1. Correcting decisions is the way we achieve success.
No decision can be absolutely correct because no one has perfect information. Therefore, decisions need to be arrived at and to a great extent derived from information, both new and old. The process of correcting therefore continues as our information changes. Eventually, as we get better information, and/or gain experience from errors made, our succeeding decisions invariably get better.
2. There is no challenge in making the right decision first.
You learn nothing. There will be many more decisions to be made before the completion of the project. Making the first decision right is as probable as choosing the right horse in a race. The objective of the decision making process is to improve one’s analytical and strategic skills. No one gets everything right.
3. Making the right decision is most important towards the end.
The final decision will prove whether your first decision was moving in the right direction.
4. A delayed decision is a decision denied.
There are arguments made by some that, in delaying a decision, they are making a decision. This is an illusion. While delaying a decision is sometimes necessary, ultimately it means that a decision still has to be made. And there is a price to be paid for the delay. Fear of decision making is as awful as cancer, and as debilitating.
5. There is no such thing as intuitive decision-making.
An intuitive decision comes from a lifetime of habit, and thus is a form of reflex. Although it may look spontaneous and effortless to the onlooker, it is in fact an ingrained methodology that has evolved over a period of time, based on experience in failure, and mistakes made. Success doesn’t create intuition, failure invariably does. Once burnt, twice shy.
6. All decisions in one form or another need to come from three factors.
(1) Projection, as one has to recognise the impact of the decision; (2) Preparation, because no decision can be made without some form of research and analysis; and, ultimately, (3) Planning, because all decisions must be implemented as planned.
7. Decisions are lines drawn in the sand.
And then turned into concrete. Decisions are the stairs that are carved into the journey of life, either taking you up or leading you down. Recognising this is critical to progress. Going up or down is temporary. Not moving at all is permanent. Hence, the final point is, decisions must be made.
Being vegetarian for most people is either about tradition, culture or heritage. For my father these things meant very little. His only point was – If you need to kill to eat, then do the killing yourself.
He said to us as children, “If you really want to eat the chicken, kill it with your hands. Then it’s yours to eat. If you can do the killing, unflinchingly, then you are fine to eat whatever carcass remains. But, you can no longer be a child of mine, because I cannot conceive of anything worth killing for. Man, animal, or even nature itself. There are many things I would die for, but nothing I would kill for.”
His words remain with me till today. Those were the words that on many an occasion during my visits abroad and while I stayed abroad as a student, stopped me from partaking in anything that was not vegetarian. The logic to me is very simple, as it was simple to him. If you cannot kill it, why would you eat it? If you can kill it, what does it say about yourself?
Based on what my father had said to us as children, I recall an incident involving my younger brother, when he was around 5 or 6 years old. My parents had to go on a trip for 2 weeks and they couldn’t take us with them. Hence, they dropped us off to live with some relatives of the family. Knowing that my brother and I were strict vegetarians, the family abstained from cooking any meat while we were there. However, by the end of the first week the head of the family, an uncle of ours, was feeling unduly constrained by the fact that no meat had been cooked in the house since our arrival.
So on a Saturday morning, when he had this craving, he went to the market, as was very common in those days and brought back a live chicken. As was his practice, he went to the back of the house, to the backyard to kill the chicken, which he did by wringing its neck. And then he proceeded to pluck the feathers in order to clean it. My brother, a little boy then had meandered off from the family room where we were all playing and had witnessed the whole affair from the kitchen window. Just as my uncle was carrying out his morbid task, he suddenly felt two little chubby hands grasping his throat from the back! My little brother, who at the time probably weighed only one fourth of the man proceeded to vigorously try and choke him to death! It took the maids, and the gardener to yank my brother unceremoniously off the poor man who was still in shock!
We all looked on horrified at the scene unfolding in front of our eyes. And then we noticed that my brother was grinning with a glint of victory in his eyes and in a ferocious tone screamed out, “Now you know what that chicken felt!” All the whole holding tufts of the poor man’s hair still in his hands.
That dramatic incident has stayed with me so clearly all these years. I often repeat it to many, especially those who are bringing up children as vegetarians to keep reminding them that the objective is not about creating a good habit, rather about creating a clear understanding of the why, the reason behind it.
In tribute to a man who left in his path millions of souls who will forever be grateful to his battle against bigotry, against racism, against hatred.
Who lived his life in service of his fellow man.
Whose daring in challenging injustice, determination in surviving the odds, dedication to his people and devotion to his principals shine as beacons in the darkness of the times he lived in.
Whose passion for righteousness still ignites the world.
Whose immeasurable patience against adversity is a testament to his life.
Whose life is his message to mankind.
We are all truly blessed to have lived and seen this great soul in his own lifetime.
Over the years, as the QNET family has grown bigger and more diverse, I have tried to evolve my training programs to include new methodologies and tools from around the world to help people with their personal growth. Many of you know that I am an avid reader and a student of many cultures and teachings of great leaders from the past. I get my inspiration for interesting new training tools from reading, talking to people from different countries and nationalities, discussions with many of you, videos of other successful techniques and even just simple observations of life around me.
One such interesting method I have used, especially for participants of the Zone, my annual, invitation only program is called Pradakshina. While the term Pradakshina itself is in Sanskrit, the act of doing Pradakshina goes by many names in many cultures.
So, what is Pradakshina? In English, it is called Circumambulation, the act of going around a fixed point. I refer to it as Pradakshina, because I grew up in an Indian family and that’s the term I am most familiar with.
Science teaches us that everything in this world has a pattern. From the smallest sub-atomic particle to the gigantic universe, everything is in constant motion. There are two kinds of motion.
- Self-spinning – Rotating on one’s own axis
- Circumambulation – Going in a circular motion around a fixed point.
Let me illustrate this with some examples.
- If you remember your high school physics, electrons in an atom are self-spinning and they go around the nucleus, which is at the core of the atom.
- The moon has its own axis of rotation and yet it also spins around the Earth.
- The Earth spins on its axis and yet it also rotates around the Sun.
- All stars in the galaxy rotate around a galactic center and the sun is one of hundreds of billion of stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way
And this goes on and on….
From ancient times, circumambulation has been a part of many different cultures and religions around the world. In Hinduism, it is common to circumambulate around a sacred object or structure in prayer. Buddhists walk around a temple to cultivate reflection on compassion and wisdom. The Jewish faith uses circumambulation during Hoshanah Rabbah at the end of the Festival of Sukkot. At some Catholic shrines,it is also a tradition to circumambulate around the relics of a saint or an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Often this is performed three times, as a reference to the Trinity.
In Islam, circumambulation is performed around the Kaaba in Mecca and is known as Tawaf. During the Hajj and Umrah, Muslims circumambulate the Kaaba seven times, in a counter clockwise direction. The circling is believed to demonstrate the unity of the believers in the worship of the One God, as they move in harmony together around the Kaaba, while supplicating to Allah. Interestingly, I read that the Kaaba is the most circumambulated structure in this world since it is constantly circumambulated by pilgrims at all times except for the time of prayers, when small birds and angels are said to circumambulate the Kaaba.
Sufi dancers, known as the whirling dervishes revolve around their left foot with their head tilted similar to the tilt of earth’s axis. Greek philosopher Plato, who studied in Egypt for 13 years believes that ancient Egypt’s ritual circle dancing represents the dance of the planets and stars around the altar of the sun.
These various interpretations, you will have observed, portray circumambulation as a journey. One that allows man to walk in harmony with a greater power and the laws of nature, because to harmonize with it, is true power.
I have tried to incorporate the key benefits of circumambulation into my training programs based on five key benefits suited to today’s world.
- Physical: The act of circumambulation requires a lot of walking. And when we set out to circumambulate a particular number of times, the physical benefit of walking results in getting a good exercise. During the Zone, I recommend approximately 50 rounds which can be completed in around 40-45 minutes.
- Emotional: At an emotional level, when we circumambulate everyday, we derive an understanding that everything we do revolves around a higher power that is at the centre of the universe. This helps us stay humble.
- Intellectual: The understanding that the smallest micro particle to the complex macro universe follows this motion, allows us to appreciate the wonders of nature and the science behind it.
- Awareness: As we circumambulate, it allows us time for reflection and connect with our inner selves. This connection deepens over time and it increases our self-awareness, allowing us to reflect and change things within us. This helps us to stop finding fault with others and seeing external sources as a cause of our problems.
- Consciousness: Focusing on a fixed object or point when you walk around it, allows the mind to focus. Our minds are constantly filled with wandering thoughts and the act of circumambulation is known to still the mind.
It is important to note that ultimately the process of circumambulation is one of refining focus and internalising one’s thoughts and is not confined to any religious or spiritual practice. You can choose to do it in any direction you want, and any number of times you want. Like any tool it can be utilised for any purpose that you need it for, ranging from the martial arts to exam preparation. The only reason I incorporate it as part of my training programs is because of its effectiveness as a mental exercise.