Hold on, Don't Fall

Warning : Philosophical Thought

We live in a competitive world. Everyone wants to succeed and not fail. Everyone operates under a constant pressure striving not to fail.

People get stressed out. They are told to be positive and think good etc. But its easy to give advice - even easier when someone does not know what it really means, and I think the 'be positive' is one advice which sounds good, but most people dont know what it means.

I too did not know. Its difficult to be positive when everything is going wrong. And then when someone comes and gives unsolicited advice on 'be positive man' ! you feel like strangulating that @#$@.

So, what the heck is it all about ? How does one succeed ? We see people succeeding and we think - " hey - I can also do that - but I dont succeed ! Why is that?".

It takes some different approach to think positive. And I first realized it when I read an anectodal story some while back. I dont remember where i read it or what was the title, but this is how it went.

A couple of kids were playing on a tree under the watchful eyes of their parents, when all of a sudden, it became windy. The kids were caught unawares and got disbalanced , but somehow managed to cling on to the branches. Both the parents shouted encouragments for them to bear out the gust of wind. However one of them fell down, and the other did not.

The difference was that the one who did not fall heard his parent say "Hold on!" while the other one had shouted "Don't fall". Though both are saying the same thing - the first is a positive statement, the 2nd a negative one. And our mind, to work on a negative statement works the other way round. So, the mind processes the info as 'Fall-dont'.

Ah ! you say ! (At least I did ! )

It makes more sense if you think in hindi. 'Don't fall' becomes 'Girna mat'. So, the mind first thinks of falling and by the time it is through with the translation its sometimes too late to realize that the meaning was just the opposite.

And that is all there is to being positive. It is not about thinking good thoughts. Its about thinking winning thoughts. A person who thinks "I should not fail" is more likely to fail than a person who thinks "I should pass". Its a subtle difference but it works.

On my bike rides, i have had a couple of falls and scores of near misses. Whenever I have fallen the thought process has been something like "Oh shit! I am going to fall" and the next thing I know I am on the ground. And there have been lots of places where the mind says "No" to a fall, and miraculously I dont fall - even though I was in much worse situations than where I had the fall.

Think about it. Remember it. Dont put negative words in postitive statements - you will be more likely to fail.

And that is all that it really is. Its just a mind game you have to master.

Here are a few things to show the comparison
  • I am not good enough vs I can be better
  • I may not succeed vs I may succeed
  • I am going to crash vs I am going to survive ( notice here its a reversal of the thoughts).

4 comments:

  1. hey vibhu.. great insprational write up..
    thanks
    aparna

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  2. We live in a competitive world. Everyone wants to succeed and not fail. Everyone operates under a constant pressure striving not to fail.So, what the heck is it all about ? How does one succeed ? We see people succeeding and we think - " hey - I can also do that - but I dont succeed ! Why is that?".

    hey, u have got the same questions as i get thinking when i get some time to myself or when i walk to work. it is true that we live in a competitive world, everyone wants to move ahead of others, one compares one's success in comparision to others; no one actually looks at or thinks about what would make the person successful and happy from inside? Everything is external driven, i sometimes wonder how much is it internal, how much is it what something wants from inside, how much is passion driven, like what it used to be one when one was a kid. I think it depends how one defines the success and happiness.
    But still i wonder, how does one succeed - "can i succeed?" I see people succeeding and i think - " hey - I can also do that - but I dont succeed ! Why is that?".
    I sometimes think, what man, i am now almost 30, "have i succeeded?, am i on the path to success?, can i do something different now?, have life just gone past me without even trying for something different and new?"

    Well, when i read ur post, even i got thinking, thought i wud respond. It would be nice hear your thoughts.

    Vishal

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  3. hi Vishal,

    Most of the urge to succeed is because of external factors. Lets say that at least of what I observe in India, its mostly external factors.

    As kids our parents want us to top in exams. Then peer pressure kicks in to get into good institutions. Further pressure when trying to get a job. And then the pressure of getting married ... blah blah blah...

    As I look around, i see a pattern in the madness. The people who really succeed are the ones who dont try to succeed.

    HA! Contradictory eh ?!

    Its true. Lets take the case of the founders of google (read The Google Story if you can). They did not try to be successful. They just did something they were passionate about. They took a risk - and worked as their heart directed. And look at what happened.

    I seriously believe, success is not a goal. Its a by-product.

    So, if you look for success - probably you are looking at the wrong thing.

    So, what are we to look for ? I think its something which is derided in India. Its passion. Look at doing something which you are passionate about. Work on that. Then all these self doubts will fall to the side.

    But... will you do that ? Will you leave a good paying job, and take up some work which you dont know how much it will pay, but is something you are passionate about ?

    Most of us are in the wrong jobs :-)

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  4. I was reading this article by joel on intervewing and skills to look for ... he talks abt smart/ability to get things done. i was wondering about it .. i think it works if u r in a medium to small company .. specially if u wanna get things done. if one is in a big company which has been existence for couple of decades .. then there is so much of history, organisational politics, groups, that it is very rare to find ppl to move things or even if one tries to do things and get things done, others and office politics limits it.
    What do u say, I know that u r smart but r u able to get things done now? what diff do u find in a big co like wipro n ur present one?
    ~V

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