Roll with the Punches

Roll with the Punches Cover copy

Roll with the Punches

A true-to-life tale, as told by Thirumur David Kiran

I marched down the street in a blistering rage, my anger about as dark and stormy as the winter evening sky.

I had just encountered a major setback in business and it seemed that it would cost nearly all my company’s profit for the quarter—not to mention the respect of my colleagues and family.

It was not the first time either. It seemed like every time I set out to try something new, I was getting beaten back. My business career as an entrepreneur seemed like a constant case of “two steps forward and one step back”—except those numbers seemed to be reversed more often than not. Sometimes it seemed I was taking three or four steps back. This was just another setback on that long and dreary road towards success, or so the success books and manuals would have said. At this point, however, I honestly doubted that the road was leading anywhere.

“It’s not fair!” I complained aloud. To whom my complaint was directed to, I knew not. I simply felt the need to vent. “Why this failure?! This is the end of me! I’m done! I can’t go on! I can’t take another step! I’m ruined!”

As these angry and despondent thoughts were running through my head and spilling out my lips, I happened across a building with a flashing neon sign outside, advertising a forthcoming event. Seeking distraction from my troubles and a shelter from the wintry blasts that were beginning to bite at my bones, I stepped inside.

The room was a dimly-lit one. It was an old boxing gym that appeared to have been home to many local champions of the years gone by. The gym, while small, was filled to max capacity with the local populace who had come in anticipation of the event.

The boxing ring soon came into view: the hardened floor that had seen one too many man collapse on it in exhaustion, the ringside scrubs where many a coach had either raised his arms in triumph or wrung them in shame, the ropes that many a fighter had leaned on for strength before his final burst to victory or had been pushed on to moments before his defeat.

A fight was about to begin and the gathering crowd was chattering with anticipation. Today was the big one, they said. You could almost feel the tension in the air as the crowd thronged around the ring, each hoping to get a glimpse of this historic neighborhood rivalry and at who would be the hero of it all. I felt myself being caught up in the anticipation as my eyes scanned the arena, eagerly looking for the two brave men who would soon grace the floor.

To my left in the scrubs I saw the first fighter. I will call him “Bill”. He was huge! Never before had I seen a man so worthy of praise. He looked like the embodiment of the Greek mythological god Hercules in the flesh! He stood there, tall and strong; impassive to all. It seemed that there was nothing that could cause him to fear. I mentally marked him off as the winner in my mind.

To my right, I caught a glimpse of the opponent—”Bob”. He was slightly smaller in build and in demeanor. From the looks of it, he didn’t stand a fair chance against this rock of a man that he was fated to meet. His opponent saw it and gloated in the fact, sending taunts to the man whose confidence seemed to be stripped with each verbal barb thrown in his direction.

Beside “Bob” sat his coach, an old, wizened man yet with a keen eye and sense of sharpness surrounding him. He had definitely coached many a champion to victory. He was whispering his last pep talk to his man.

“Coach,” “Bob” said in a trembling voice, “I’m scared stiff. What am I going to do out there? I’m going to get whaled!”

“Son,” the Coach began, “Just remember this: No matter what comes, no matter what that man does, no matter how hard the blows land or how numerous, roll with the punches. That is the secret, son. Take them on you like a man, roll with them and then strike back with all you’ve got in you. No matter how hard you are struck, roll with it and get up to strike again! That is what makes a champion!”

“Bob” rose with a confidence that he did not earlier possess. He strapped on his gloves and jumped into the ring with the words of his coach still ringing in his ears: “Roll with the punches.” His opponent swaggered over to him, taunting as he went. Yet nothing could undo “Bob’s” confidence.

The bell rang and the match began. “Bill” attacked first, his massive arms swaying like great oak trees. His blows came fast and hard down upon “Bob”. Yet, with each blow, “Bob”, staying true to his coach’s word, rolled with the blows and struck back. His coach was on the side, cheering him and goading him on.

Round one ended with “Bob” receiving a particularly bad patch of punishment from “Bill”, who jeered him all the way to his corner. “Bob” sat down with a sigh. “I suppose that he won that round.”

“Yes, he did,” his coach said. “But you’re going to win the fight. It may seem like you went a few steps backward, but who said you were going to win the fight in one round? It might take some time, but you will win if you don’t give up. Just keep rolling with those punches. You can do it!”

The bell sounded and “Bob” jumped back to his feet and walked back into the ring to receive another barrage of punishment from “Bill”. And he did so again for the third round, and the fourth, and the fifth. It became routine for him: get up, get hit, roll with the punch, hit back.

However, with each round, something was happening. The blows of his opponent were getting slower and softer while his were becoming more commanding.

There! “Bill” took a hard one from “Bob”. He stumbled back, momentarily stunned. Invigorated, “Bob” launched forward with a vengeance, landing a left and right again and again! His opponent tried to strike back but “Bob” just rolled with it and struck again. “Bill” hit the floor! Unbelievable! “Bob” had won it!

With a smile of joy on his face, he jumped triumphantly out of the ring and into his coach’s arms. His coach hugged him and whispered in his ear, “My son, I knew you could!” Tears streamed down the winner’s face as he embraced his coach with a triumphant smile.

As I walked away from the joyous celebration, I too had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t seem to get the Coach’s words out of my mind: “Roll with the punches.” Suddenly everything made perfect sense. That was what I was lacking. That was what I needed to help me onwards in life.

“Roll with the punches!” No matter what comes, no matter what life does to you, no matter how hard the blows of failure and defeat land or how many times or for how long, roll with the punches. That is the secret to success! Take it on you like a man, roll with them and then strike back with all you’ve got in you! No matter how hard you are struck, roll with it and get up to do your best and strike again! That is what makes a champion!


The Allegory of the Pencils

Allegory of the Pencils Cover

The Allegory of the Pencils

By Thirumur David Kiran

One day, the Master Pencil Maker was busy in his workshop creating pencils. He formed, he cut, he shaped, and he colored. All of this he did with a keen sense of precision and joy, for he loved nothing more than creating pencils and seeing them put to good use in a variety of locations for a variety of purposes. Although seemingly small and insignificant, each one was important their own way. The pencil maker knew this and so he put his best efforts into creating the perfect pencils.

Once the pencils had been created, the Master Pencil Maker had one last task to complete before sending them out to take their places in the various shops, schools, business, etc. where they would be used. He gathered all the pencils together and spoke to them saying, “My dear pencils, there are a few things I need you to know before you go out to fulfill your tasks. Always remember them and you will each become the best pencils you can be.”

The pencil maker picked up one of the pencils and moved it deftly in his hand. He placed the tip of the pencil on a paper and began to write with flowing and artistic strokes. Masterfully and beautifully, his hands maneuvered the pencil over the surface of the paper, creating what was sure to be a masterpiece. When he was finished, he laid the pencil down and held up the paper for all the pencils to see. They all gasped with wonder and the beautiful picture that had been created there. Then the Master Pencil Maker said, “You see, each of you has been created for a purpose. Some of you will create masterpieces, some of you will write books, some of you will jot down information, some of you will even go on to change the course of history. However, you will only do these great things if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand. Without that, you won’t be able to accomplish anything.”

The pencil maker then picked up the pencil that he had just been using. He noted that the lead had become dull and pointed this out to the other pencils. The pencil with the dull lead’s face fell and he turned away, feeling embarrassed and useless, for he thought he could no longer be used in any way. The Master Pencil Maker picked him up and placed him in the sharpener and began to turn. The pencil winced from the pain and the other pencils gasped as they didn’t know what the Master was doing. Was this a punishment for the pencil for being blunt and useless? Some shrank back in fear. However, after a minute the Master Pencil Maker pulled the pencil out of the sharpener and held him up to a mirror to look at himself. The pencil gasped with wonder and joy as he saw that his tip was once again sharp and perfect for use! All the other pencils smiled as they now understood. The Pencil Maker said, “Remember, there will come times when each of you will experience a sharpening. Sometimes this sharpening might even be painful. But this is not a sign of failure or that you are useless, but this is required if you are to become better and more useful pencils.” All the pencils nodded their heads in agreement.

The Master placed the pencil down and called another one to come to his side. The pencil rushed forward in eagerness. However, in his haste, he slipped and fell over the drawing that the Master had earlier created, leaving a long black mark across it. The pencil looked at what he had done and then hung his head in shame, tears of guilt streaming down his face. But the Master Pencil Maker picked him up and wiped away his tears. He then turned the pencil over and using the eraser that was attached to the pencil he erased all traces of the mark. He then took the pencil in his hands and touched up the picture till it once more looked beautiful. The Master Pencil Maker turned to the pencils and said, “Always remember, you have the ability to correct any mistakes you might make. No matter how badly you feel you have screwed up, you can fix things.”

He then asked all the pencils to look at each other and tell him what they saw. The pencils looked around at each other and saw that each pencil was different. Some pencils were red; others were black. Some pencils were blue; others were yellow; some pencils were shiny; others were duller by comparison. Some pencils were plain; others were covered with patterns. The Master Pencil Maker explained, “All of you are different in your own ways. Even all of you who are red are different shades of red. Yet it is not the colors or the patterns that you posses on the outside that make you valuable or of worth. It is what’s inside of you that makes you valuable. All of you are the same inside, because that is how you are made. Always remember, the outside can wear out and fade, but the most important part of you will always be what’s inside.

The Master gathered up all the pencils and sorted them out to place them in their respective boxes. The pencils were all deep in thought as they tried their best to remember what they had learned. Before sealing the boxes the Master said to them, “One last thing that you must remember is this: You should always continue to write. No matter what happens, no matter what the condition, no matter how difficult it may be, you must continue to write, for that is your mission. You must always leave a clear, legible mark wherever you are, no matter how difficult the situation. That is your duty as a pencil!”

The pencils nodded with understanding and promised to remember what they had been told. They went into their respective boxes fully understanding their Maker’s purpose. They were then sent out to go and accomplish it. And through applying what they had been told, each one of them went on to become a success in their own ways. Some created masterpieces, others wrote books, others helped to store valuable information, and each one of them went on to change their world for the better in some way.

Each of us is like a pencil from this little story. And however childlike this little story may seem, there are lessons from it that we can learn. We too have been sent into the world by our Maker, and He has sent us with some instructions. Remember them, and you will become the best person that you can be!

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand.

Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems and difficulties, but it’s all to help you to become a stronger and better person.

Three: Never let your mistakes get you down. You have the ability to either correct your mistakes or grow through them.

Four: Everyone is different. Yet on the inside, we are all the same. By the same token, what you wear, what you look like, how you carry yourself are all of secondary importance. The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.

Five: On every surface you walk you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you should always leave a mark for good by doing the best that you can whenever and wherever you can. That is your mission. Remember, you were made to do great things!

(Excerpts of upcoming book: Allegories for Life)

Inspire Greatness

“As a life coach, you have to learn to recognize potential. You have you train yourself to identify what each person is capable of and then pass that vision on to them. In other words, you have to inspire greatness in each person by helping them to believe in a vision of themselves that is bigger than they currently can fathom. They can’t see it, but you can and you have to help them discover it and believe in it themselves. Once they do, then they can go on to achieve it!”

— Thirumur David Kiran

Life Coaching (Mine)

Take the Leap


Take the Leap

By Thirumur David Kiran

A couple of years ago, my work took me to California, during which time I had the privilege of visiting a zoo there. Now I am like a child when it comes to zoos. Something about wild animals has always intrigued me from the time I was small. I could—and often would—spend hours at the zoo wandering around and looking at all the animals in their cages, admiring their beauty and majesty. So I was excited about having the opportunity to go.

The zoo was a great experience. We had a wonderful time looking at, feeding, and sometimes even getting to touch the animals in their cages.

We were passing through the African safari section of the zoo when we came across the place where the deer cages were located. There, in the middle of all the other cages, was a cage that immediately caught my attention. It seemed to stand out amongst all the enclosures—not for its size (as it was quite small), but rather for its seeming lack of practicality.

The particular cage in question was about 12 square feet in diameter with walls that were about three feet high. It was an enclosure that housed baby Impalas until they were big enough to join the rest of the herd. What struck me most about this cage was the seeming lack of thought that had been put into it. The question on my mind sprung from hours of watching documentaries about animals in the wild—“Don’t impalas jump?”

Curiosity got the better of me as I walked over to one of the zookeepers who was standing nearby. Reaching him, I pointed out to the cage and said, “Um, those are impalas, right?”

He responded, “Oh yes indeed! And what beautiful creatures they are!”

Okay, so he knows what animal it is, I thought to myself. Perhaps I should educate him as to what impalas do. I turned to him again. “Impalas are the type of deer that jump, right?” I asked him, fully knowing the answer but hoping to educate him.

“Oh, yes!” he said again. “They are known as ‘flying deer’ at times. They can jump a height of over three metres and cover a distance of 10 metres in a single leap! There’s hardly a sight more beautiful in all of creation as a wild impala leaping across a plain.”

I was dumbfounded! This zookeeper knew his stuff. That confused me even further. With a confused look on my face I asked, “So, isn’t this cage a bit too small for them? Won’t they jump out of it without a second thought? How do you keep them in here?”

The zookeeper cracked a huge grin and said to me, “No, they won’t jump out of here. You see, impalas won’t jump if they can’t see where they will land.”

Are we often like these impalas? We have the God-given ability to go great distances and accomplish wonderful things, yet do we often avoid taking the leap because we can’t always see what lies ahead?

May God help you this week to take many leaps into the unknown, knowing that even though we cannot see the future, it is worth the leap of faith to get there.

(Originally Published in “Heart Talk” February 2014; Excerpt of upcoming book)