2015 to 2016

I promised myself last year to write an annual reflection post at the end of the year and on my birthday, so here it is- my year in review.

My religion is spirituality. I was never religious, always thought of myself as spiritual. This year, I’ve been fortunate to read Swami Vivekananda’s books, and boy have they transformed how I think! I’ve gained clarity on my WHYs and have come to discover practices that have sworn me to sanity (or insanity, as it may seem to many). I meditate daily, without fail, and believe in cosmic intelligence and the Infinite One. I have been able to develop strong reasons to not support or believe in a particular religion, for I’ve studied material that talks about evolving the human body as it is, and reaching a higher state of being. I’m not against anyone or any religion, I’m just stating my personal views: that all religions lead to the same truth, and one God. Ignorance is not healthy, holding a particular worldview without knowing why is lack of self-awareness, and religion is meant to help you get past the layers and lift the veil to ultimate self-realisation.

God, family, business- in that order. I watched this movie in which a footballer always talks about three things that he holds sacred: God, family, football- and that made me think about my three core reasons. For me too it is God and Family, and then there’s business, for one and one reason only, to impact lives. Bhagavad Gita made me realise that because of the position/family/circumstances you’re born into, you have certain duties that you need to fulfil to elevate your being to the next level. As someone born into financial security, I feel my duty is to create value and prosperity for others- and my background is most suited for business because that’s what I’ve been raised around and all I’ve ever wanted to do.  While many people view business is selfish, I am greatly opposed to that for the core essence of a business should lie in helping others, and that is where I get my passion for social enterprises. I often meditate on ‘love and abundance’ for the words fill me with a sense of purpose.

Finding love. This is the decade when all my friends will be married, most of them already started with it this year. To all my friends looking for love, I only have one advice: Your life needs to already possess and be abundant with the love that you are seeking. It won’t be new love when you find it, but a reflection of the love in your heart that you will share with a partner. Stop feeling like you always need a significant other to validate your presence, you need to learn to enjoy being single too, and that way you’ll be able to attract and build a healthy relationship. Needy and lonely are states we impose on ourselves, because of how we perceive our external surroundings. Value and cherish your life as it is, believe in grand possibilities but love every single bit of the present, and that’s when you will attract a partner that deserves you: when you are at your highest state of self-esteem and self-love.

Nothing in life is an accident, but everything is a miracle. I can’t exactly explain how deeply meditation has changed me but I can confirm this: I often dream, wake up to, or realise certain truths that I feel come directly from my heart. You have to learn how to acknowledge opposites- there’s good and evil, pessimism and optimism, evolution and involution, and that’s just how the cycle works. There can never be one without the other, where there is life, there is bound to be death. There are only two ways to live life: you believe that nothing is sacred OR everything is. Everything that happened this year has turned me into a believer of the law of cause and effect. Good attracts good, just focus on good, and you will learn how to escape evil and return to good, every time. There will always be negativity around, but you have to find a place within you, the place that’ll keep you safe, where you can re-introduce yourself to the good. I don’t mean to come across as a preachy-hippy, but I can tell you this: I’ve seen how my thoughts affect the quality of my day.

Work incessantly, work to live life to the hilt. While a lot of this post is turning out to be about trusting the timing of your life, and believing in the higher power- it doesn’t mean that I’m asking you to take a backseat until its all done. Yes there are things beyond your control, but you have to find your own meaning through your efforts, and you must put in the work without caring about the consequences. Discipline is freedom, when you find the work that fulfils you or even as you are trying to find it , you can design a life of discipline to achieve freedom. I aspire to live a life of discipline, in fact I felt my top form as I was training for Ironman, cause it filled me with a sense of satisfaction and contentment because I was working hard on something. I was able to compartmentalise my time and efforts with everything, and my whole life gained a new idea of balance. The first try didn’t work out- I got a ligament tear, but that didn’t make my journey any less beautiful, for I wasn’t training to reach the finish line (in my head, I already had crossed it multiple times) but for the virtue of discipline.

As this year ends, I promise to spend more time with my two loves: travel and music. Next year, I want to explore more places, meet new people and produce some music. I don’t have any idea how to, I don’t even know if I’m good but it’s something that I’ve always secretly wanted to do- just to live life one notch up. While I haven’t planned the details how the HOWs for those two yet, definitely on the menu are: publishing my first book, completing the Ironman, finding a way to harvest kinetic energy and giving a TED talk.

Happy New Year! Welcome 2016, we’re gon have a blast!

 

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Communication, Mindset & Vulnerability

I often find myself questioning my thought process and my mindset. Is your thinking a product of your own beliefs or of the society you were conditioned in? How much of you and your mindset is really you, and how much has been influenced and shaped by your environment? I’ve realized the importance of spending time alone and living away from home for a while when you’re young, for it helps you choose what you nourish your mind with. You start developing your own ideologies, methods, ways of dealing with elation and stress and life in general. Having that personal code to face life with plays a major role in long-term success, as you know yourself and know what you’re capable of. Once you realize your value and your worth, the question shifts from settling with what’s available to striving for what you aspire. That shift is essential for real growth.

On a personal level, I treasure beautiful minds. I love the feeling you get when you are midway through a conversation, and you can feel the person opening up and letting you in. Once you’re in, you realize how much treasure is hidden behind misguiding appearances. In a single conversation, you’re able to experience life through someone else’s eyes, come face to face with their insecurities, ambition, dreams and failures alike. If the person is set on inspiring and changing lives, that beauty is tenfold.

There are people who have had transformative experiences and strive to live a life that has meaning. Once you discover what ‘meaning’ means to them, you are able to unleash their most sacred possession and develop a real bond with them. The people who feel everything deeply, are the hidden gems of the society, as their intense take on life, can help you live several times in the same lifetime. For them a failure is not an end, a victory is not a celebration, for every morning they celebrate life and every night they end their day in bliss. Bliss that comes from knowing that you gave the day your all, you faced it with resilience and made it through.

These are also the kind of people who know that if they protect their mind, then they have the ultimate control. So when you try to step into their zone, they’ll flinch several times before you make it inside their circle of trust.

I’m writing this for I finally acknowledge the fact that most people live their lives emotionally shut down and stunted. Don’t try and conceal the beauty of your struggle, for every life is a battle of its own. Be better because of your journey, and don’t let the outside ‘noise of happiness’ fool you into believing that struggles aren’t universal. Everyone is fighting something, everyone craves for something more- that’s just how life is structured. While I admit to not being vulnerable enough, I realize that the best conversations that I’ve ever had, are with the people who let others in. I’m challenging myself to be more open and honest, and I hope this inspires you too.

Communication is strategic everywhere- be it business, relationships or networking. Rather than trying to be the person who’s got his/her shit together all the time, it’s better if you admit when you don’t. It helps in creating an environment where you can co-creatively address issues and arrive at solutions. Being more vulnerable personally, will help you thrive professionally by improving your skills of communication.

Conquer the inner dialogue

Conquering the inner dialogue is absolutely the most important aspect of endurance training. There’s often a constant struggle sometimes between your body and your mind that makes you want to give in and stop. However, in that moment if you train your mind to replace the ‘can’t-do’ thoughts with what you hoped to achieve at the onset of training and your goals, you can go on for much longer.

I’ve seen that most people in endurance sports start because of either of the two reasons: they have something to prove, mostly to their own-selves (the dropout rate is high when it involves proving something to others), or they have at one or more points in their life have felt victimized by a certain adversity/mishap and aim to regain control of their lives. Once you feel something on a very deep, personal level, you start trying to make every experience in your life match the extremity of what happened, or what you went through. Most people won’t understand what I wrote above, but those who know, really know. In my opinion, it all comes down to seeking control and power in your personal life.

Nietzsche was of the opinion that all men aren’t equal, as it is ultimately a game of power, with people having different levels of ambition and ‘will to power’. I’d like to suggest that while outwardly power and ambition might be a distinguishing factor, the control of the inner consciousness and self-awareness is what truly differentiates men. The more you tap into the inner power, the more empowered and driven you feel in the outside arena. It might seem preachy and idealistic to not let anyone or anything from the outside to affect your internal game, but the ability to bounce back after a certain influence is what matters. We are human and do not exist in isolation, so it is almost impossible to not let the world affect you, but how soon you gain control on your mind after, is the defining factor.

Having said that, I do believe that some of the endurance athletes I’m lucky to have in my life, are also the most loving and caring people I’ve ever come across. There is a certain charm that these people have because of their passion and their commitment to excellence that makes you feel alive in their company. They make it seem like life is a drug, that they’re always high on and breathe. These people have successfully undone their negative conditioning, know how to stop their thoughts from beating their morale down and can overcome life’s disasters with grit and valour.  These qualities demand utmost respect, and just witnessing them for real in my life, keeps me motivated.

Inner dialogue: I can’t. I’m tired. I didn’t sleep well. I was out late. I have a long day ahead. I am not made for this. I didn’t eat much. I’m sore from yesterday. What are the others thinking? Am I looking okay? Are my clothes the right fit? He/she shouldn’t have said or done that or he/she should’ve. I can’t do this. This isn’t for me.

Replaced with: I’m getting better. I’m going to focus on one step at a time. I can. I’m focused. I want to get better than yesterday. I will keep going. I will try. I will focus on me. My only competition is me. My focus is me and my performance. I’m committed to my vision. I have goals, and I’m going to for them.

Honestly, sometimes just saying the right thing, to yourself, at the right time, can change the course of your whole day. Try to control your inner dialogue, kill the outside noise, and you can conquer it all, I’ve learnt that from the best.

This is not only true for just endurance athlete or sports training, but also for life, in general. Most of the times without realizing we’re constantly telling ourselves how we aren’t good enough, inadequate or powerless. How we can’t do certain things or can’t achieve what someone else has achieved etc. Come to think of it, everybody starts at level zero, it’s your drive that takes you places, you gotta decide where you wish to exit life. If you try to proactively control the inner dialogue, you’ll be able to see yourself for who you truly are: loved, powerful, and absolute.

Questions that I’ve been working on

Most people set out and spend their younger years looking for answers to make sense out of life. I was obsessed with figuring life out too, but a recent realization left me wondering if it is ever about answers at all?

I’ve discovered that it all comes down to the right questions for our own, unique selves rather than the set list that the world sets for us. How can all of us be given the same questions when our capabilities and personalities are each unique? We must proactively create a specific line of questions for ourselves, our lives, tailored to our goals and ambition.

I’ve arrived on some questions for myself, that I’m constantly thinking about, almost obsessively. I feel comfortable sharing them, as I’m doing real groundwork on them, and have now aligned my focus completely to the questions I created for myself.

Question 1: What work should I be doing that will create a significant impact on generations to come? How do I create an organization that shelters and protects my employees and their families’ futures?

Laying a strong foundation based on people as its pillars is important to me, as it is integrity, generosity and ambition that I respect the most. Giving people an atmosphere to grow, to feel secure in, not only for themselves but also their kids is what I’m trying to build. If, in this life, I’m able to do work that empowers and creates prosperity for the people involved for decades to come, I will feel that I’ve had a meaningful life.

Question 2: How do we make technology accessible on a grand scale? 

Our biggest problem is also our biggest opportunity in this case, as it gives us a chance right now, to build the future world. I do agree with Peter Thiel when he says that technology  is the most significant force of our times, even more than globalization. I’m crazy optimistic about our future, but that optimism has to be constantly fueled by work done in the field, we need more lives to feel the positive impact of technology.

Question 3: How do we create new resources that benefit the society? What issues do we need to be working on?

Advancements and progress as a society come from taking bold steps to create a different future. We need to be unraveling new truths, new technologies and new methods of doing things.

Question 4: How do we educate and create jobs for the current generation, while planning for our future generations?

Is the work that we’re doing protecting interests of our current generation? Also, is our plan in place to create a secure future for the next generations?

Question 5: How do I use Aqaya to create prosperity through empowerment?

Aqaya means Eudaimonia, we’re building on ideals of belonging and benefiting others, flourishing, thriving and exercising excellence. How do I create multiple avenues and streams to attract the best talent to benefit people in huge numbers?

Question 6: How do I create and access a platform to interact with the brightest minds of our time?

I’m a firm believer in the fact that what differentiates the most successful and sharpest minds from the masses is their consistency and access to a different wave of information. My efforts are aligned in meeting and interacting with the best in their fields so that I’m always fed quality information.

Most people aspire to lead a certain kind of lifestyle or become a certain someone but don’t want to put the work that demands to be input. Creating ‘something’ (could be anything) while you’re here, is the easiest way to try and leave a mark and legacy behind. In other words, you will only be remembered for your own unique creation, so what’s going to be your contribution to our history?

I’ll close this with something I wrote to myself recently, “How differently would you live if you truly believed that limitless possibilities were under your feet? Better start living that way, cause they are! Your dream is as scalable as your mind believes it is.”

How do we become superhumans?

How do we reach a state where we act at our maximum potential, and deliver peak performance? As an athlete and entrepreneur, this question has been on my mind for a while now. Being in an environment designed for consumption wherein we’re constantly fed information and data, I feel sometimes we need a reminder to shift our focus back to us, and not the world. We become so conditioned to focus on the external circumstances, that we forget that it is our inner engineering that is going to help us improve and survive in our environments. Also, as our surroundings are becoming more intelligent and smarter, I want to address the question of how do we improve and upgrade ourselves as humans.

If improvement in technology is happening 2x every passing year (Moore’s law), in a decade my generation is going to feel about our future technology as my parents’ and grandparents’ feel about Facebook, Iphones, Whatsapp and the idea of technology, in general. Again, can we afford to be ignorant of the fact that we often do not act to the best of our abilities, that there is room for improvement, and that our peak state is not yet unlocked. Why do we become so complacent and settle for what’s available? Why do we let security and comfort distract us from the bigger picture? Why do we not throw moonshots and challenge the societal and psychological limitations imposed on us?

It’s a shame that many people are shut down to the idea that there is a world bigger than the one that they create for themselves. They get so lost in the daily monotonous routines, that they live for the weekend, a vacation or anything that promises a sweet escape from their routinized and reactive lives. Having adopted a more proactive role in my own life, and opening myself up to this debate of personal development, I realize that there is so much scope for improvement and betterment, internally. I lose interest in conversations that aren’t about ideas, passions, progress, development and building lives, societies, economies.

A commitment to excellence, performance and self-enhancement is what we need to inculcate in the young minds from an early age. As a society, we teach subjects at school, but we miss discussing and encouraging them to think about the essence of a meaningful life. If we keep ourselves out of the debate of reaching our highest potential, we are ultimately not experiencing life in its true magnificence. Often people will restrict a certain person to one particular role, but I want to ask that why can’t we make more polymaths? Why can’t we become ‘super-capable’ and outdo our own personal bests, like we do in races or events. Imagine, a world of people, striving to become the best that they can possibly be..imagine a world of superhumans. 

In all the noise, let’s not lose our own. We think a lot about how others perceive us, and seldom about how we see our own-selves. Are we trying our best, are we trying to make the most of our lives, are we trying to reach our maximum potential? I’m curious to know what my life would look like everyday if I were doing the best I can. I’m working towards achieving my peak state, are you?

What trying to be in peak state means to me: I’m constantly trying to discover the new, beat my own personal bests, challenge what I know to be limitations, physically and mentally and develop newer passions. I hate the idea of confinement, I do not wish to be associated with one particular role, when I know that in an entire lifetime, there’s so much to see, do and achieve. The more I try to experience life, the more I fall in love with experiences I hadn’t had before. I want to keep meeting new people, while I try to be the source of joy and happiness for the ones around me. I want to keep teaching the next generation, and help them see the world through eyes full of hope and unrestricted potential. And most importantly, I want to be known to have lived as a superhuman for my time on this planet.

P.S: This ‘peak human state’ is totally scalable and has tremendous potential for growth. Through research, I will try to come up with a blueprint on how to access the highest and best versions of ourselves. Stay tuned!

Year 22: Annual reflection post

Starting out, I made a decision to transform myself and the year of ‘me’ has been the best year of my life so far, and it’s only going to get better from here. I am committed to getting better each day, as cliched as that might sound. However, those who do it, know the feeling you get every day upon waking up, when you know that it’s a fresh start, and the day has to be made grand. While there are ups and downs, the determination and fearlessness make it seem like progress regardless of how the day goes. When you’re driven to do better, live better, feel better, everything you do, every person you meet, every thought changes, and you experience abundance for being true to yourself.

Once the mind set itself I realised, that I wasn’t competing with anyone anymore, rather, creating my own segment. Most people work because they want to prove something to someone, for me, that person is myself. It’s been a roller coaster of a year but I’ve had me throughout, and I’ll always have me. When you shift from being emotionally dependent to independent, you realise that it is ultimately your own wellness that transcends into all relationships in your life. So, I choose to be happy, so I can make all the people in my life, happy! I do believe that most people come not to stay but to teach you something in life, so all the ones who’ve left me, have left me with a valuable lesson that adds to my life, for that I’m thankful.

I seriously set out this year with the mission to improve the quality of my life. For that, I decided to start meditating and while I had done it off and on as a runner and athlete off and on, doing it on a daily basis has affected me very, very deeply. I’m calmer, much more proactive, creative and am able to observe and monitor my thoughts. They say life is what you think of it, and for me, my life is love, growth and abundance.

I must acknowledge how blessed I feel for I’ve traveled the world and back. Most people cannot envision a better way of life, for they’ve never stepped out of their homes. Through my travels and my books, my mind has expanded my imagination and filled up with gratitude. If one is seriously considering personal development, the combination of meditation, traveling and books is what I would recommend, undoubtedly.

Always been a thinker and never one to share much, however, I tested vulnerability this year and shared some unspeakable truths about my life with certain people I only met this year. It has improved not incrementally but at least 10x the quality of relationships in my life. And while everyone I chose might’ve not been the right person to confide in, I’m glad I did it, for it was a personal growth experiment and it was important to me.

After a lot of soul searching and working on it, I’ve finally found the meaning I wish to give to Aqaya. It is my first venture and my baby, but it is not a real word and has no definition. I’ve decided what it will mean from here on, and it is ‘eudaimonia’, human flourishing i.e. prosperity through empowerment. One of my entrepreneur friends made me realise that how in every society there are people who fight for the next generation. Who work towards making the world better for the coming generation, and are responsible for continuation of human progress and evolution. I want to be one of those people who fight for change, of thought, especially. The logo of Aqaya has double infinity in it, and now I want it to mean continuation of progress and flourishing.

While this year, I worked with several start-ups, now I feel like Aqaya is ready for its next big steps. I felt it was important for me to experiment with various things so as to define what I wanted to spend my next few years building. On purpose, I chose to work a lot with the underprivileged , travel, run half marathons, teach Zumba, move to another city, meet new people, work on several start-ups and a lot of new experiences just so I could arrive at what mission Aqaya should be aligned to.

May this coming year, help me take the warming up of this year to another level, and bring life to what is already a reality in my head. Speaking of reality, I wrote a particular sentence after something had a profound effect on me,”My reality was painful so I created a different one.” You see, as devastated as you might be, or how much you might’ve suffered previously, is no reason to still let it affect your future going forward. You can claim your life, if you stop playing victim, and take charge of your thoughts, your vision and your ambition.

After all, “where there’s life there’s hope.” (Steven Hawking)

Twenty fourteen to fifteen.

A powerful realization came over me as I lay in bed reflecting on 2014. I felt a surge of excitement and empowerment just by the realization of the thought, as it felt so real and true.

I’m most excited about the life I haven’t witnessed yet, the people that I haven’t met, the places that I haven’t been and the memories that I haven’t made. While my present gives me immense pleasure and I’m truly grateful for my circumstances that make it conducive for me to do everything that I want to do, I’m always looking for my next new excitement. My past isn’t a testament to anything, because I’m evolving each day, and unlocking new energies within me. My past is merely a bunch of anecdotes to reflect upon and cherish. Yes, everything that happened before transformed me in some way, but I choose to make a conscious effort to not live there anymore. I believe in getting better every day, I believe in progressing in some way every single day. I do make an effort to keep in touch with people I care about, I do like to visit the same places once in a while but I’d much rather keep discovering the new. There’s so much life to live, I feel like I want to see it all before I hit the grave. I want to unleash as many adventures as I can while I’m here, so that when I’m gone, I’m able to feel like I gave life its best shot. Too often, I feel that we get entrapped by our own reality by complacence or hopelessness, forgetting that there’s gotta be a next step or a move forward. I refuse to be a victim of my circumstances or enjoy them too much, because for me, I’m already thinking of where I’m headed next. Furthermore, I made empathy and equanimity my strengths this year. I spent time with some of the smartest and the wealthiest people in business alongside sharing some great moments with underprivileged kids and adults from the streets. I worked really hard to pursue as wide a range of experiences as possible and have been able to come back to my reality, as a more advanced version of myself. To be able to experience life through others, and be a source of love and kindness for them, is a very beautiful gift. Sorrow and elation to me have become states that I can snap myself out of, for I’ve embraced how transient life is.  I’m working on getting better at life every day, and this is how I stay sane and driven. I’m out in the arena, facing all facets of life and living like a free and wild thing, hope to infect a few lives with some fearlessness.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Roosevelt

One last thing that I really want to share which I hope changes your perspective a little because it truly 180-ed mine: What’s for me, will always be for me– so while it is great to chase after people and things, its best to know that all the right stuff meant for you, will come to you in its own time. Also, at any given time in your life, you are absolute. You have all the love you need, all the resources you need, and everything that you need at that particular instant. Strive but don’t forget to be grateful for the journey that fuels the ambition, and please, please, please spread love around recklessly.

Wish you a splendid 2015, hope you make it big!