Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Hard Things (and other pieces of inane advice)

A lot of my friends on Facebook are urging me to read the Business Insider's list of what makes you a successful person. I'm a confirmed listmaniac, but this list bothers me. It has some useful advice, but it just puts so much pressure! It encourages you to adopt a focused lifestyle, which is not a bad thing at all. Except that for a lot of people, it ends up becoming a choice that takes over your life so that the only time you feel happy are weekends, and sometimes not even then. As the wise Anmol Joneja said in his infinite wisdom, when he learned that a loved friend had not made any plans for the upcoming weekend - "Always make plans for the weekend. They're the windows into what your life is supposed to be." It's funny, but it's also a little sad.

My take on the list follows. I've only responded to those elements in the list that moved me. Like I said, some of it good advice, some is dull and obvious, and the rest will just kill you if you followed it for any long periods of time. I've lived by some of last kind, and learnt some valuable lessons. You're welcome.

You Have To Do The Hard Things.

You have to make the call you’re afraid to make. Yes, but first, be sure of what you want to achieve in that call. Is it taking you further into another 'kickass' workplace where you will have to do a lot of 'hard' things and then live your real life only on the weekends?
You have to get up earlier than you want to get up. But get to bed early if you're planning to get up earlier. Inadequate sleeping destroys brain cells. Irreparably.
You have to give more than you get in return right away. And not grudge it, and not brag about it, and not constantly remind the people you gave to. Give for the fun of it.
You have to care more about others than they care about you. Again, and not grudge it, and not brag about it, and not constantly remind the people you care about. Care because you care, and when you don't care, don't pretend that you do!
You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore. Choose your battles, please. Not every fight is worth getting injured, bloody and sore over. And give yourself some time to heal.
You have to lead when no one else is following you yet. Ummm, but at some point, do turn around and figure out why they're not following you yet? 
You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is. Oh absolutely! Especially if no one else is!
You have try and fail and try again. Yes, but how many times? When do you turn the page of the universe's catalogue and say, okay I'll try this instead!
You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath. This person has obviously never run. When you're out of breath, slow down, stretch, smile at the other panting people, sip some water, and then run faster.
You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you. Be kind, and walk away from the cruel people! The world is full of good, kind people, don't waste your time being kind to the undeserving ones.
You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled. This is the attitude that promotes rat races and sweatshop cultures. Why not have a sensible conversation and set reasonable deadlines?
You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong. Unfortunately, this is true.
You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you. Oh this is the most important one!! Also the biggest piece of b.s. Keep moving sure, but first make sure you know where you want to go, and make some course corrections once in a while!

You have to do the hard things.

But you don't just have to do the hard things. I wish everyone who reads "motivational" stuff like this, also read the Desiderata - Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.....With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

In doing the hard things, it is so easy to forget just how beautiful the world is. 


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