Sunday, 19 May 2013

Courage To Walk Alone

“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”

This is one of my very favorite quotes. It celebrates individuality and embraces the idea that in order to live, we must not follow, but lead ourselves.

So often we all fall into the assumptions life should be lived according to what our religions, traditions or learned moral values teach us. The comfort of knowing what is expected drives most to live a predictable life. We all get into a routine and when we begin to wonder where life went; we are old and gray, regretting all the things we did not do. Many of us day dream about things we are only brave enough to do in our imagination and when it comes to taking that first step to putting that dream to work, we doubt ourselves.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. - Steve Jobs

We doubt because we allow fear to question our commitment to the crowd; we allow fear to convince us we will be scolded and shunned for taking that first step to walk alone; we assume traditions and moral values are beliefs which cannot be bent or edited to become our own version.

Whatever is done for love always occurs beyond good and evil! ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

When you are struggling with taking that first step to walk alone, ask yourself if that step is done for LOVE. LOVE for yourself and LOVE for LIFE. Often times we allow ourselves to stay stuck in a bad, miserable or unhealthy situation because we are afraid of the backlash we may get from the crowd if we decide to leave. If you live your LIVE with LOVE as your main driver, you will only reciprocate that energy and more will come right back to you.

There are old heads in the world that cannot help me by their example or advice to live worthily and satisfactorily to myself; but I believe that it is in my power to elevate myself this very hour above the common level of my life. ~ Henry David Thoreau

In a crowd, people are like each other and strive to be so. Walking alone, your example is yourself. You learn to be better than you were yesterday and realize dictating your own life is more beneficial than using someone else as your example to be like. Many influential people in the world walked alone, they realized their potential was only limited when they compared themselves to someone else.
It’s not what you are that holds you back; it’s what you think you’re not. ~ Denis Waitley

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Power of Your Vote

“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”   Abraham Lincoln

In this general election of May 2013, most of us have something or the other in mind in terms of issues, parties and candidates that is going to determine the next leader of this nation. Even after 65 years of independence, it has never happened that all the electorates have exercised their power of vote.

It is a grim reality and we need to ask as to why we do not exercise the biggest power vested in us by the constitution of Pakistan. There is no denying the fact that our country is facing a large number of problems ranging from corruption to terrorism to the economic crisis. By choosing not to vote, it is our fault that we bring into power an incompetent government and thus we are the ones who should be blamed for all the problems of the country.

“It is better to vote for what you want & not get it than to vote for what you don't want & get it.”     Eugene V. Debs

 Please don’t just sit in your house and complain about bad government, leaders or roads; poor electricity supply, health care, quality schools; the corrupt police, kidnapping, armed robbery and other worse things happening in our country.  If we want a better Pakistan, we must take action and join the efforts to make it happen. God will not come down to do it for us. He has blessed our country with rich human and natural resources; we cannot expect him to come and physically help us to manage those resources wisely. Heaven help those who help themselves.

A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.
If we don’t take action, things will get worse. Corrupt rulers will continue to waste and steal our money, and make us suffer unnecessary hardships. Let’s not forget that it is our money that government is spending. The money that corrupt politicians are stealing belongs to every Pakistani. If we didn’t vote, then we don’t deserve to have any say about how our country is managed and how does it fares. Our Ignorance, Our Non-Participation, Our Misjudgment could even take the entire nation to the pits of darkness.

“What most people didn't realize in the Western countries is that here (in Pakistan) it’s not a question of having supporters, it’s a question of getting these votes to the polling stations.”  Imran Khan

We often make excuses about the lack of time to actually go to the polling booth and vote, but we have to decide whether that is really a constraint.

“Have you ever stopped to ponder the amount of blood spilt, the volume of tears shed, the degree of pain and anguish endured, the number of noble men and women lost in battle so that we as individuals might have a say in governing our country?  Honor the lives sacrificed for your freedoms: VOTE.”    Richelle E. Goodrich

Even if you are among the enlightened few who actually vote in every election, then too it is time to introspect. It is time to contemplate the real issues that will decide our mandate. You need to clearly demarcate the priorities for our nation. To help ensure that others understand how important their vote is, we need to take as many people as we can with us to the polls. Don't depend on a ride to get there, walk if you have to.

“You have to come out for yourselves on the 11th. Remember May 11. In the Quran, Allah says: 'I never change the fate of a nation unless they themselves strive to change their fate.' You have to come out to change your fate.” Imran Khan

Voting is force. It is violence unleashed, power wielded. It can mean the difference between justice and injustice, between prosperity for some over others. Every individual has power, and that power is magnified when many come together. Like a thousand gusts of wind forming a tornado, or a thousand drops of rain forming a storm, unified power of individuals becomes group force that is unstoppable. That is the beautiful violence of action wielded the violence that creates peace because it raises no guns but raises a voice.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” John Quincy Adams

It is time to cleanse politics of all nonsensical elements.  So come out and vote. Vote for the right reason, for the right person and for the right purpose. It is our power and our duty, so let’s not waste it.

“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”                            John F. Kennedy

Pakistan is a democracy and we choose our leaders, so why not choose the best ones. For a better future, ask questions and demand answers. We have to decide where we want to see our country after five years and it is our responsibility that we vote judiciously.

“Do the unexpected. Take 20 minutes out of your day, do what young people all over the world are dying to do: VOTE.”  Rick Mercer

So I am going to do the unexpected, I am going to cast my vote in this General Election of May 2013. Are you?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Be a Risk Taker

I believe risk taking is the most important skill in life to be learned out of all the other skills.  Imagine how dull your life would be if you never took chances.  Everything great in life requires a little bit of risk to make it happen. Becoming a risk taker seems to have a negative connotation to it.  The word brings up images of danger, hazards or even loss.  But no matter how dangerous the idea of risk taking is, there is an even greater danger of not taking risks.  Risks are a key ingredient to living life to the fullest. 

Fortunately, the skills of becoming a successful risk taker can be learned.

Get in the mindset:

The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re looking at risk the right way.  Think back to a time when you were socializing with a group of people and you told a joke you thought was really funny, but no one laughed at it.  That joke is an example of a small social risk.  Perhaps you were embarrassed or thought negatively about yourself, but really it doesn’t matter.

I know it may seem strange to start off a post about how to become a successful risk taker by illustrating a failure.  However, I am here to tell you there is no such thing as failure.  There is only feedback.  In the above example, the feedback you got was that the joke really wasn’t all that good.  The only conclusion is to not tell the joke again and try something else.

Entrepreneurs act very similarly.  If you look into the history of many successful businesspeople you will find a long history of unsuccessful enterprises.  Since all we see from the outside is success, it might be hard to realize all the setbacks they dealt with.

Start Small and then Go Big:

The best way to become a successful risk taker is to start small.  Try an exotic kind of food you’ve never eaten before, take a road trip somewhere, or just start talking to more people.  Just get in the habit of saying yes to new things.  Some things might not be as good as you expected, but you’ll be surprised to see that how often you find something great.

Once you build up the habit of trying new things, you’ll want to experiment with some bigger risks.  Plan a trip to another part of the world, join a new club, ask out that attractive person or take a class in cooking.  And if you’re really up for it, you can start up your own business, take a year off to sail around the world or do something even more amazing. If you keep at it, eventually you’ll get really good at taking risks. 

Your success rate will go up since you’ll have all this risk taking experience behind you.

Overcoming Your Fears:

Risks by their very nature are risky and that can be a little frightening.  This fear is natural, but can be a roadblock in things you want to do.  When you understand how fears limit you then overcoming them is easier. Fear just needs to be understood.  That’s why starting small and working your way up to bigger things works.  It gets in your head just how little there really is holding you back.

Also understand that sometimes fear can take another form in excuses.  This appears when someone has an idea to do something, but something, one thing, is holding them back.  They’ll often claim this one thing is “preventing” them from doing what they want to do. Admittedly some circumstances (physical abilities and demographics for instance) can prevent you from doing what you want.  

However, in many cases the excuse is just a form of fear holding you back.  Recognizing this will help you overcome this hurdle.

Risks vs. Gambling:

I want to clear some myths about risks though.  One should never take on something that is too much for them to handle if it doesn’t work.  One example would be to put all your money into a single insecure investment.  That is gambling and is not advised.

The key difference between a risk and a gamble is the consequences.  If the situation you’re taking would seriously set you back or even ruin you if it didn’t work out, that is a gamble.  A risk is something that even if it doesn’t work, you’ll easily recover from it and be able to function normally afterwards.  

There is a fine line between the two, but if you carefully ease into risk taking, you’ll get a good instinct of where the line is for you. Once you learn how to become a successful risk taker, you’ll be able to do anything you want to.  Fear will still be there, but it won’t hold you back.  

Best of all, you’ll be living the life you want.  As Dale Carnegie once said, “Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes the furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.”

Do you have stories of risks that you have taken?  Or do you have anything you’ve always wanted to do, but have something holding you back?

Thursday, 2 May 2013

How to Pursue Your Dreams When Surrounded by Unsupportive People

That moment! When you decide to follow a dream is “Magical.”
It’s so exciting.  Not everyone finds a dream they truly believe in.  Even less people take action to pursue them. There’s no doubt it’s a risk, but what dreams come easy?
Besides you’d rather go for it and fail than let it pass you by without even trying. You set your plans and goals to accomplish and head out on your way.  Everything is going great.
That is, “until you tell the people close to you.”
Your friends and family aren’t as supportive as you’d thought they would be.  You expected a few questions and concerns, but the feedback you get surprises you. A few are doubtful, but many of them are outright unsupportive.
For some reason, they want you to give up on this dream.  They might think it’s too risky or that the odds are completely against you.  Whatever their concern is, the message is clear: they’re against it.

Interacting with Unsupportive People

Does this scenario sound familiar?  There’s nothing worse than finding a dream you want to pursue only to find those around you discourage it. Under normal circumstances, it’s hard to take action towards a dream.  When those around you keep telling you to quit, it just makes it even harder.
It takes a strong person to follow their dreams without support from a loved one.  Those times when you’re feeling down and distressed, it’s good to know that you can turn to someone who is supportive. That’s why it’s so important to be surrounded by supportive people.
But when they’re not supportive, they can fill your head with fear and doubt.  This just makes it all the harder. But what can you do if most people around you are unsupportive?
1. Persuade and convince them
People are often afraid of things they don’t understand.  They get an idea in their head of what they think it’s all about without truly comprehending the whole picture. This could be why the people around you are unsupportive.  Perhaps you just need to explain your decisions to them.  Once they understand your decision they might think differently.
Sit down and talk with them to clear up any misconceptions.  Be honest with them about why you want to pursue this dream. Be upfront about any potential drawbacks to pursuing this path.  Most dreams are risky so you don’t want to gloss over that. 
Make sure they realize how carefully you’ve considered this decision. You also want to share what makes you so excited about this dream.  Excitement is infectious and can bring them over to your side.
2. Come to a compromise they support
If persuasion doesn’t work, you can always compromise with them. This is kind of the midway point between going 100% to your dream and giving up on it.  Instead of dropping everything to pursue your dream, you can do it on a part-time basis.
An example of this would be someone who wants to be a professional actor, but doesn’t drop out of business school to do it.  They act in the evenings and on weekends, but have their classes to fall back on.
This arrangement can make your family feel better about your decision because if acting doesn’t work out, you’ll still have a degree so you can earn money.  It works out for you too because you still get to follow your dream – although not as hard as you might like.
3. Block their negative influence
If you can’t convince them and there is no way you can come to a compromise, you will have to block all their unsupportive behavior.  They might not like your decision, but they don’t have to remind you of that every time you’re around.
Don’t talk about it with them more than you need to.  And if they say something negative about it, don’t argue back.  Getting into arguments won’t solve anything and might make things worse.
If you’re overwhelmed by their negative influence and unsupportive behavior, you might want to spend less time with them.  This isn’t a decision to take lightly.  But hanging out with people who constantly put doubts into your head will make reaching your dreams much harder than it needs to be.
Finding the Way to Your Dream
Following your dream is hard enough.  There’s no reason why you should do it while everyone around you is telling you to stop.  It’s like trying to run a marathon with a pocket full of rocks.  It’s unnecessarily difficult.
When people aren’t as supportive as you’d like, your dreams don’t feel as magical.  Make sure those dreams don’t turn into nightmares.

Courtesy # Do Something Cool Team