Eight Guiding Principles of My Life
1-Life’s not a Bed of Roses:
I was in sixth grade and watching this interview in Doordarshan with the great Malayalam actor Prem Nazir. As a kid I was thinking that he may be one of the happiest people in the world. He had money, fame, a good family and everything else. In the interview he was talking about the hardships he had to undergo before and after he became an actor. He told in the interview “Life is not bed of roses”. Here you are listening to a person who owns a Guinness world record for the maximum number of movies as hero (whopping 600 plus movies) and telling in national television that life is not a bed of roses. I realized from then on how true that statement was.
If you think at any stage of your life, your life will become smooth with no issues you are living in a fool’s paradise. The life will throw at you a lot of hurdles, sometimes very brutal ones and how you overcome those challenges and move forward defines your “success rate” as a human.
2-Live Within your Means
This is one of the most important lessons my parents have taught me. Know your means and never live beyond it under any circumstance. It will land you in very big trouble. When I was a kid we had a lot of financial difficulties. Salary of my parents was just sufficient to meet the day to day expense. There used to be few days at the end of the month when we don’t have any money in the house. We couldn’t afford to buy lot of dresses. Other than the school uniform I had just one shorts and a shirt. Wherever I go I used to wear that and if someone asked me why you are wearing the same dress my mother has told me to tell them that “we cannot afford more”. If I cannot afford something I am not ashamed to tell that openly at that age or even now. If I cannot afford something I resist from it what ever be the temptation. I have seen so many people shooting their own foot by living beyond their means.
3-Plan for all Possibilities
Before you do anything major in your life, plan for all the possibilities especially the worst ones. You never know what is in store for you when you execute the plan. I have seen people who think only about the positive when going to do something major stuff in their life. I do think about the positives but I dissect the negatives more than the positives so that I will be mentally and physically prepared to face the worst. For example when I got admit for my Masters from Arizona State University (ASU), I was kind of apprehensive if I could do well in the US system of education. Before I resigned my job in India I thought about all the possible positives and negatives that can happen to me if I come to US for my Masters. That planning really helped me overcome the difficult six months of school in US as I had thought about the exact same scenario even before I left for US from India.
4-Compare Yourselves with Achievers
An example – you are an average student and you have 2 friends – one a topper in the class and another one who hardly studies and always fails in the class. It is easy and fun to follow your friend who always fails in the class but lot of hard work and determination to catch up with the topper. If you compare yourself with people who have achieved more than you, then you would work hard and determination will automatically come in you which will help you to climb ladders of success. But if you compare yourself with someone who has achieved equally or less than you a sense of complacency leaps into you and you will lose that urge to put on extra effort to fine tune your skills.
I have seen lot of people who are so blessed in life with almost all the physical stuff needed to live a happy life but always complain. I have written a blog “Complaint Maniacs” about such people. I have seen people who complain that they don’t have enough money when they earn a six digit salary. You may never see me complaining. Rather than complaining I always try to make the best out of the given situation. In Arizona I have seen a lot of people complaining about excess heat during summer. For me, the way I take that – even if a couple of months are extremely hot we have some very pleasant climate coming up winter. Again most of the times we will be in an air conditioned office/house/car. So why should we complain? If I was in a place like Alaska, I should have seen the good side of cold weather and lived happily.
If some one who knows me 20 years back and sees me now they don’t see any difference in the way I talk to them. I have seen a lot of people for who even a small piece of success will go into their head and start showing off. There are people out there who buy for example a posh car even if they cannot afford just to create an “artificial impression” within the society. Once you are into the business of showoffs you need to do more showoffs to be in this business and there is a good chance that it will ruin you.
7-Know Your Limits
I believe knowing your limits is very essential to succeed in life. It has lot of advantages – knowing your limits will help you work hard on it or one can avoid it all together. For example if a cricketer knows that he is bad at playing a hook shot, then in the nets he can practice it and if he is still not confident, he can avoid that shot in the match. If he doesn’t know that he may be getting out to the same shot again and again. As a student I used to excel in math oriented classes and do badly in classes that have a lot to read. Knowing that beforehand helped me a lot. While selecting courses for my Masters and PhD, I tend to choose courses that have lot of math in it. Even if I had to take classes that require lot of reading, I know beforehand that I have to put in extra effort.
On a lighter note…this is applicable only for me
8-Food is for Survival and Not for Taste.
For me food is something to quench hunger and not something for taste. Give me a bowl of ice cream, a chocolate bar, chicken curry or bitter gourd juice - I never prefer one over the other and eat all the four dishes with the same enjoyment as long as it satisfies my hunger. The most embarrassing situation comes when someone asks me “how was/is the food?” and the answer always is positive for me. My wife, my parents and my close friends know that they should never ask me the following questions “which cuisine do you want to have food from?” or “how did the food in that particular restaurant taste”. Hope all who are reading this piece also don’t ever ask any questions concerning the taste of food.