Are You a “Scaredy Cat?” Pt. 1

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– ­By Thirumur David Kiran

 

A few months back, I reached a pretty alarming conclusion: I don’t like risks.

Scratch that…I hate risks!

In fact, I’ll say it again. I HATE RISKS!

I once maintained that “hate” was a very strong word and should only be used for things such as “crimes against humanity” or “cats” (yes, I am a dog person). Yet I came to see that for me, risks fall under this category as well. Do we not do everything in our power to avoid the things that we hate? If this is the criterion, then it is safe to say that I really do hate risks, for I do everything possible to avoid them.

I’ve not been a risk-taker in the slightest! I fear to take risks because of the logical danger that it holds:

  • I am scared of boats for fear of falling into the water and drowning.
  • I am scared of heights for fear that I might fall.
  • I am scared of trying new things for fear of failure.
  • I am scared of reaching out for fear of rejection.
  • In short, I am scared of taking risks for the fact that there is risk involved.

I guess that makes me a scaredy cat!—And I don’t even like cats! (Apologies to the cat lovers out there)

And I am not alone in this.

As soon as this realization set in, I determined to test it. I asked some hypothetical risk scenario-based questions to a group of students at one of my talks the next day. From the answers that I received from the 200 students in that room I realized that I was not alone in my fear of risks.

But that’s not all. Studies have shown that while the average adolescent may be psychologically predisposed to doing risky things, our desire for stability and safety and knowledge of responsibility kick in once we lose our pimples and our initial facial stubble. The average adult human is perfectly happy to go through life without ever having to take a risk.

In short, we are all scaredy cats as well!

But stop for a minute and think about a world without risks. It would be a world without adventure, a world without success, a world without progress, a world without growth, a world without fun, a world without—dare I say it—purpose.

The paradox of life is that, as much as we don’t like risks, taking risks is what brings about progress and growth in our lives. It is also risk that brings us adventure and joy. In fact, scientists have proven that risk-taking in small doses is almost universally beneficial for your brain and mental health.

Risk-taking causes real changes in the brain, which might account for why risk-takers quickly seem to become adrenaline addicts. Major risks release adrenaline, which can lead to a quick rush, and dopamine, which causes intense feelings of pleasure.

Novel experiences can help to ward off depression and reinvigorate a stale relationship. Risk-taking is often a necessary prerequisite for starting a new business or launching a new career, and the excitement associated with uncertainty can be a powerful antidote to boredom and even depression. Because dopamine produces a natural high, risk-taking behaviors can help you get a positive mood and a new perspective without the risks associated with drug use. [1]

Could that by why, at times when you are in a comfortable position in your life, that you feel a bit stagnant and perhaps a bit bored? I know this is the case for me.

Come to think of it, the few times in my life that I have encountered and faced risk, I will admit that it was not of my own choosing. Rather, I was thrown headlong into it—sometimes even literally!

  • I can remember the time that my father stayed back from a performing trip to another city with our show troupe and I was forced to emcee the performance before a huge crowd for the first time in my life.
  • I can remember the time that my performing arts mentor broke his leg a few days before a big birthday party for a prestigious client that we were organizing and I had to fill in as the host in his absence.
  • I can remember when I was a management understudy and my company was organizing a large nation-wide conference. My overseer—and the main manager of the event—pulled out abruptly due to personal reasons and I had to suddenly step up and manage the event without any prior experience.
  • I can remember the time that I was assigned to take a group of teenagers white-water rafting down the Kennebec River and I stood on the bank, white as a sheet and frozen with fear.
  • I can even remember that I had to be cornered for my first kiss…

And the list goes on and on! Yet, looking at these events now from the wonderful vantage point of hindsight, I see that through every enforced risk came incredible reward!

  • From my first kiss stemmed my first real relationship that taught me much about life and love.
  • From being tossed on stage—unprepared and frightened—stemmed a career in public speaking that I relish today.
  • From my first forced event as a host stemmed a foray in event management that led to the founding of two companies and also helped to kick off an event culture in that city that many people have benefitted from and are continuing to do so.
  • From my first stuttering experience at managing a nation-wide conference stemmed another dozen conferences in India and other parts of the world, enabling me to impact hundreds of lives.
  • From sitting paralyzed with fear in an air-filled raft in a foaming and churning river stemmed one of the most memorable and incredible experiences of my life!

And the list can go on and on… All this from risks that I was pushed into!

Now this makes me wonder, how many things have I missed from risks that I have avoided? How many opportunities have I passed up because they looked risky?

A toddler makes faces at the delicious food in front of them because it has green leafy “thingies” on it. They may stick their tongue out and squirm in their seats and profess that it is “the worst food in the world” and that they “know they don’t like it because they’ve never tried it.” But just as the child never knows what he is missing till he overcomes his fear of vegetables, we will never know the joy and success that we are missing until we overcome our fear of taking risks.

Next week, I am going to go a bit deeper into this subject and expose some negative mindsets that we take towards risk. And then I am going to give you solutions that can help you overcome them. I am trying a few of them myself, and I am seeing positive results already.

See you all next week!

 

[1] http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1869106,00.html

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Grow Anywhere!

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It’s amazing where you can find inspiration from if you are looking for it.

A few weeks ago, I was in Mumbai. My family used to live on Madh Island when I was a baby and so I took a ferry there on a Sunday evening track down my old living place. Although I couldn’t find it, I had the chance to watch the sun set on the beach. And since I’ve always loved beach sunsets, It was an opportunity not to be missed.

On this particular beach, there was no sand, only rocks. As I was walking towards the coastline, I noticed this small plant growing up between the cracks in the rocks. Here–in the most likely place where all conditions were against it–here was growth!

No matter what the condition are like around you, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do your best to grow into your potential. You are destined for great things!

Life is a Voyage…

This is of my favorite quotes of all time. In fact. I’ve made it a mantra of mine and I advise the people who attend my “Be the Hero” events to do the same. In life, we have no control over where we were born, the way we look, our family, the place we grew up, etc. But we have absolute control over our choices and ability to use these things to have a successful life. Just because you were “born this way” (apologies to Lady Gaga) doesn’t mean that you are forever fated to remain in those same circumstances. In a meeting with the legend Brain Tracy last week, I learned that 87% of all billionaires in the world today came from poor or low middle class families. Life isn’t always about the cards you’ve been dealt. It’s how you play with them that counts. A person doesn’t have to be a victim of their circumstances. You can use your unique situation to your advantage. Don’t know how? Write me today and I’ll help you do it! Happy Sunday!

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“Reflecting on 2016” part 2 = My Biggest Disappointments

“Reflecting on 2016” part 2: Biggest Disappointments:

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(Note: For the next few days, I’ll be reflecting on 2016 and planning for 2017. You are welcome to join my thoughts and meditations. Have fun getting to know the “real me.”)

I had a few reservations about posting this section, because I am not someone who likes to focus too much on the negative. I tend to look for the positive in each thing that I come across, so I was hesitant to post something that had a negative focus. But life has its ups and downs and the way that one generally learns from life is through the “downs.” So in order for me to clearly define and express my lessons for 2017, I need to outline the disappointments of 2016 that lead me to learn them. Once again, these are in no particular order.

– One big disappointment for me was that a few of my speaking tours failed to materialise. At the beginning of the year, I had engagements in South America and the UK. At the end of the year, both had failed to materialise. I had turned down other offers because I was focusing on those and ended up missing out. In other words, I had kept all my eggs in one basket and that basket fell off my bicycle.

– Another disappointment for me was that I didn’t complete the writing of my book. I was hoping to have it done in time for a Jan 2017 release, but I didn’t allocate enough time and focus to it as I needed. I underestimated the time needed and overestimated what I could accomplish in that time.

– Another disappointment for me was that I failed to give enough focus to my health through the year. I put a lot of effort into my projects and my seminars and my talks and my events, but I often let my health get crowded out of my schedule. While I was accumulating experience and success, I was also accumulating kilos and health issues. I now am ahead in my career life, but also behind on my health life and it’s already costing me. In the words of a teacher that I admire so much, “This I ought to have done while not leaving the other undone.”

– Another disappointment–and I think that this was my biggest disappointment of the year–was the fact that I went through it so fast. My mind tends to work in boxes. I can define my year by projects and events. I know in Jan this thing happens, in Feb these two things happen, in March is this event, etc. My problem last year was that I went from project to project, from event to event, from month to month. All my focus was consumed by the current project and when it was done, my focus was immediately taken up by the next one. While the work was important, I realised that during that time I forgot to live. I had forgotten to enjoy life. I had forgotten to take time with my family. I had forgotten to be present at each moment. I took a sort of pride in being busy, not realising what I was losing in my busyness.

That’s the summary of my disappointments in 2016. Join me soon to hear about my lessons that I learnt that I’m going to apply to 2017.

 

The Courage of a Soldier

Success is not for the faint of heart. Success is not for the pretenders. Success is not for the dabblers. Success is for those who give it their all. Success is for those who genuinely throw themselves headlong at their intended goal. Success is for those who are courageous enough to buck the tide and stand firm in the face of all obstacles. Blessed, therefore, are they who seize upon their dream and do not let go until they see it become reality. It will truly be a hard fight, but the courage of a soldier is what wins the war! Have a wonderful Friday!

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To Be an Olympian

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To Be an Olympian

By Thirumur David Kiran

 

Over the past few weeks, the Olympics has claimed the interest of the world as 11,000 athletes from 207 countries have dazzled one and all with their strength, skill, speed, endurance, mental toughness, and overall athleticism. World records have been broken, previously unattainable heights have been achieved, memories have been made, and moments have been experienced that have captured the imagination of the viewing audience and elevated their makers into instant stardom—some of them into immediate legend!

According to the statistic team of the BBC website, an estimated 3.5 billion people were engaged with the Olympics worldwide—through viewing on television or through commenting on mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I will happily admit that I was included in that figure.

I am a massive sports fan. True, I don’t play sports all that well at the moment, but I have an avid interest in viewing sports and learning about new sports. In another life I would probably be a sports anchor or journalist. But in my present life, sports are my way of relaxing and are a big hobby for me.

As such, the Olympic Games are a very happy time for the sport’s fan in me and I generally try to adapt my schedule to be able to keep up with the major events. This year, that meant waking up two hours earlier than usual in order to watch the final events of the day. That has resulted in about 4-5 hours of sleep a night, as my days are usually quite full.  This schedule has truly deepened my relationship with the dark beauty we call coffee, and I will confess before all that my love for it has grown in manifold ways over the past few weeks.

Aside from enjoying the close races, the nail-biting finishes, the grandstand flourishes of ability, and the incredible feats of strength, I have come to have a healthy admiration for the amount of athleticism that these sportsmen and sportswomen. And it isn’t just about their rippling muscles and their incredibly toned physique. It’s their ability to run for an hour and then dig in and sprint the last lap. It’s their ability to swim at top speed day after day (sometimes two or three times a day) and still come out on top. It’s their ability to jump, flip, somersault, and twist in ways that the athletes of yesteryear could only dream of. It’s their ability to fight through pain and exhaustion to produce results. It’s their ability to have the mental grit that pushes them across the line ahead of the rest of the field.

Once in four years, these athletes have their moment in the sun. Once in four years, these athletes command the attention of the nations as they push all boundaries in search of gold. Once in four years, these athletes have a chance to become legend.

Once in four years, the world stops and admires these athletes. Once in four years, the world applauds these men and women as heroes for their feats.

However, that is not the whole story.

What people fail to realize is that it takes years and years of trying, failing, pain, agony, exhaustion, sore muscles, blood, sweat, and tears in order to produce a performance that takes them to a medal finish. What is seen on display is but a fraction.

A 100 meter dash takes under 10 seconds to complete, but years to perfect.

A vault is over in a single motion, but takes ages to master and improve.

A swim dash can finish in under a minute, but takes uncountable hours to train for.

Indeed, an Olympic performance is but a fraction—the tip of the iceberg. It is a culmination of effort, a synopsis of a lifetime of training. And while we must applaud achievement, we must not forget the hard work it took to get them there.

Michael-Phelps3Michael Phelps (31), winner of 28 medals and holder of numerous records across five Olympics, trained for eight hours a day for five straight years during his teenage years without a single day off! His workouts were considered to be inhumane and his coach was dubbed “the mad scientist” but he continued them through his career, pushing his body beyond what most people would consider as the breaking point.

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Simone Biles (19), winner of 5 medals (four gold) at Rio and highly touted as one of the greatest gymnasts of all time, grew up in a foster home and began training at age 7 as a way to escape. She trained for hours and hours for years. Even her coach told her not to train too hard, to which Simone responded, “I want to do this!”

 

mo-farah-double-double-athletics-rio-2016-olympics_3769224Mo Farah (33), winner of the 5,000m and 10,000m gold two Olympics in a row, grew up in the war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia before moving to London.           He originally had no interest in running (he wanted to play football) until his coach bribed him into it. After slacking off in the beginning, he made the decision that he wanted to be the best and then began training like no other distance runner. He went to Kenya to train with the great marathon runners, and then continued to train there over the years, even leaving his wife to go home alone after their honeymoon because he needed to get back to training. He eventually moved to the USA to continue training. He implemented crazy training techniques such as sprinting at high altitudes in order to increase lung capacity, underwater treadmills to build stamina, weight training to reduce bobbing arms, etc.

The Great Britain women’s hockey team won gold for the first time in their history at Rio.74400395-england-hockey-sport-large_trans++PjDZOdMgceQ0ik-fUDgEdn5kBUHVUPIOFeoJr9sPfNk The players in a later interview talked about the intensive training that they had undergone over the past few years. Not content with the usual training regime, the coach doubled their training exercises for the week. In addition, the coach wanted to improve their ability to think well when exhausted, so every Thursday he would have them work out till they were practically collapsing from exhaustion and then he’d make them do tests and quizzes to improve mental sharpness. It paid off, as after a gruelling final went past extra time and into penalties, they scored all of their penalties, while their opponents missed three.

These few stories are just a tiny percentage of the stories that are out there. I could have looked at any athlete from any country and found a similar story there. Indeed, just a bit of study will throw up many more examples of hard work, of training, of pushing, of fighting, of going beyond exhaustion and going beyond pain to produce their best.

Every four years, the world takes notice of crowning moments and achievements—moments and achievements that were a lifetime in the making. The incredible dash, the world record finish, the mind-blowing feat—these all are the culmination of years of hard effort.

Muhammad Ali put it best: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

Your success too will be the result of your hard work and effort. All those nights with less sleep, all those hours spent at your desk, all those letters that you send out, all those people that you meet, all those times when you are tired, all those times that you get rejected, all those moments you feel like a failure, all those moments that you want to quit—those are what make you a champion.

One day, the world will sit back and applaud your success. And you alone will know the hundreds of hours of suffering that brought that success about. Your success will be the culmination of your effort, the synopsis of a life of dedication.

May that motivation push you through the difficulties of today. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a Champion!

Success and Failure Happen in our Minds!

Thought for your Day: It is in the mind where success and failure happen. True, we don’t have much say in all the circumstances, conditions and events around us. Some things are truly out of our control. But what we can control is how we view them and how we respond to them. Our outlook on them determines our reaction towards them. A massive step towards success in any area of your life is realizing that it is not the circumstances that determine where you are and where you go from here, but rather your decisions and your choices–choices fuelled by the right mindsets and attitudes. You can change your life at any moment. All you need to do is change your mind!

PS: If you would like Coaching in the area of developing positive and success-engineering mindsets, please do drop us a mail to directkoaching@gmail.com or to our FB page and we’ll be happy to help you out!

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