Polymath Letters (25/02/2020)

The silly games your mind plays with you

A quick note before we start: In the previous email, I talked about my new ebook Art of Goal Setting. If you haven’t bought it yet, now would be a good time to buy it because the 20% discount ends in 24 hours.

Now, let’s get to today’s email.

Today I want to share with you an important lesson I learned while writing my recent book. When the book was almost complete, I did an experiment. I edited the entire book in one day. I sat down in the morning and worked on it for the whole day, till evening. I took only one break for lunch. I called it Hell Day — inspired by the concept of Hell Week in the training of Navy SEAL officers. I generally don’t work like this. I just write when I feel like writing and stop writing when one idea is down on the paper. But I am always open to experiments, and hence I tried simulating a Hell Day for myself.

During Hell day, my mind tried many times to make me quit. Every time the thought of stopping the work came in mind, I simply saw the irrational, automatic behavior of the mind. I think the reason I didn’t quit was that I was aware that it’s just the nature of the mind; I don’t have to do everything it says me to do. I have this gap between my mind and my life.

Every time the thought to quit came, I thought about two things:

  1. I made a decision

  2. and there’s no negative side to following this decision

Quitting made no sense. Now don’t try to copy that mental dialogue, please. This sentence came to my mind naturally; I didn’t craft the message to tame my mind. Instead of copying the self-talk, try to realize the truth that will organically sprout such self-talk.

At the root are the games that your mind plays. You’ve always let your mind drive your life. I think realizing this truth, and cultivating a gap between your mind and your life can significantly help you quit bad habits and addictions. At the root of your bad habits is just your attachment to your mind. Once you develop a command over your life and stop letting your mind control your behavior, quitting addictions becomes much easier. I talk about this in the book also.

And what about hard work? To be honest, I did this experiment to test myself. I talk a lot about going with the flow and following the path of least resistance. I never really forced myself to work hard on anything. So I wanted to test if I am rationalizing myself to not work hard due to laziness.

Look, situations will come in life when your ability to work hard on something will be tested. You should be able to work hard when it’s required. So, by planning a personal Hell Day, I tested myself for that ability. Turns out, quitting during hard work is just a trap your mind constructs, and if you have a level of detachment with your mind, then it’s easy to avoid that trap. I’d suggest planning a Hell Day for yourself to see the games your mind plays with you. It’s fun to watch, really. You will laugh at those silly games once you watch them from a distance.

See you next week.

Namaste. 🙏

Art of Goal Setting - Book Released!

A deep dive into Desires, Goals, and Success.

As you already know, I was working on a book about Desires and Goals. The book is released. Buy it here: Art of Goal Setting.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve developed a mental framework I use to decide which desires to follow and which ones to drop. The first section of the book is my attempt to put that framework on paper. You will see the source of desires, where they hide inside your mind, and how they affect your life. After reading the first three chapters, your view towards your desires will completely change.

The second section of the book focuses on building plans around the desires that you choose to chase — we typically call this process Goal Setting. Here’s a general flow of the process:

desire —> plan —> action —> result

People think that they fail at step 3 — action. But the reality is they fail at step 1 and 2. People don’t analyze their desires and end up chasing things that do not move them to take action. And people try to jump directly into action without any plan. Action without a plan is a recipe for failure.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

A close friend of mine joined special forces last year. After listening to his training stories, I’ve been fascinated by how the elite warriors and army generals operate on their missions. Based on the military-approach, I’ve developed a new Goal Setting framework — Mission Oriented Goal Setting, MOGS for short. This framework will not only skyrocket your success rate of completing goals, but you will also feel the thrill of a commander going on a mission. You will treat your goals as navy SEAL officers treat their missions.

I’ve also included a chapter on removing distractions, bad habits, and addictions from your life. This is critical because no matter how hard you try to climb up in life, your bad habits will always drag you down. The biggest enemy of success is Distraction.

If you decide not to buy the book, that’s fine. But since you are subscribed to my emails, I want to share with you some snippets from the book, regardless of your buying decision:

“We must realize that every individual is unique. Human brains have a very
dense neural network. And that neural network is very malleable. EVERY individual has a unique set of genes, upbringing, and experiences in life. As a result, everyone's mind is shaped into a unique entity. By copying other people's goals, we are erasing that uniqueness.”

“On the journey to control your thoughts, all you need is a mind and awareness. You have both. Always. So don't let any pseudo-spiritual guru tell you that you can't control your thoughts because that's reserved only for his private students. Just like any other skill, you can learn this too.”

“More important than the desire is your intent behind that desire. Do you desire that thing out of anger, for an ego boost, for fame, out of jealousy, or something else? Never chase a desire without knowing the place it is coming from.”

“When you get into the habit of observing your mental images throughout the day, you'll see how many silly dreams your mind keeps watching. All these dreams are tiny desires lingering in the back of your head — silently adding misery to your life like a slow poison.”

“If you do not have enough awareness about the patterns of your life, you will emulate patterns of other people blindly. Without self-awareness, you do not have a reference point to make the comparison.”

“To set process-oriented goals, ask these four questions:
1. What do I want to do every day?
2. What do I want to get?
3. Why do I want to get it?
4. How can I get it by doing what I want to do every day?”

“You get limited time and energy every day. At some point, your goals will compete with each other for these limited resources. And if one goal stops you from using the resource for another goal, these are conflicting goals. As a result, you won't get optimal results in any of the goals.”

I can go on, but I might end up converting this email into a mini-book, so I’ll stop here. If you want to buy the book, buy it now because there’s a 20% discount for the first five days. Also, if you do not find the book useful, I’ll fully refund your money. There’s no risk on your side. Buy — Art of Goal Setting.

See you next week.

Namaste 🙏

Testing your Limits and Living your Ultimate Potential

You never really know your upper limit until you test it

I often watch Animal Planet and Discovery channels in the evening with my dad. Mostly it’s about watching Bear Grylls eat random stuff, but occasionally something new comes up. Yesterday, a show on Animal Planet was showing how lions were not able to get sufficient food due to the hot summer. Some elephants happen to be wandering in their area. Generally, lions don’t attack elephants, but at this moment, due to hunger, a group of 5 lionesses decides to attack the group of elephants. The lionesses somehow manage to get a young elephant on the ground after a tough fight. That day they got to taste an elephant’s flesh for the first time. Lions in that area never eat an elephant before.

You never really know your upper limit until you test it. I talk a lot about doing things that come naturally to you. Working more in flow. But testing your upper limit every once in a while is not a bad idea. It reveals your true potential.

If you deadlift 150 lbs right now, you might want to try two reps of 200 lbs one day (maintaining proper form). Or if you write 500 words each day, write 5000 words one day. You will notice that there’s a carry-over effect of doing this. After deadlifting 200lbs, you’ll be more confident doing 150 lbs. After writing 5000 words in a day, you will become more comfortable writing 600-700 words per day.

One caution when you are testing your limits: make sure it’s just a burst, don’t make it prolonged or regular. And take proper rest to recover from the extra stress.

Before you blindly take this advice into your life, I want you to ponder on one question: “why test the limit?” Are you trying to increase your upper capacity? Why so? Those lions were hungry and took the risk of attacking the elephants because their lives were on the line. You are probably not at the edge of dying with hunger.

We like to give examples of lions and wolfs to motivate people into action, but remember, most of the hunters in the animal kingdom are lazy creatures. Predators don’t waste their energy attacking prey until they are hungry. Humans have built safe societies where your chance of dying with hunger or attack is slim. Then why add the extra stress of testing your limits? Why chase growth?

I chase growth because it doesn’t make sense not to do work with your ultimate potential. If I can efficiently write a thousand words per day without getting exhausted, then it doesn’t make sense to write only 500 words per day. In case if I am not able to write 1000 words per day right now, but I have the potential to grow to that level, then that potential is hidden inside me, and it doesn’t make sense not to reach that level.

We have a limited time on this planet, why purposefully choose the mediocre way of doing things? You will die no matter what you do, but it makes more sense to live this temporary life with the full potential you have. Why take your potentials to the grave with you? A life not lived with its best potential is a wasted investment of Nature. Nature bestowed you with amazing potentials, but you chose not to reveal it.

Now don't assume I am asking everyone to become a superhero. I am saying be the best potential YOU, at this very moment. You might be a successful writer, and the best you can do is write more. But someone might be trapped in addiction, and the best he can do is get out of the addiction. There's no global ultimate potential; it varies from individual to individual. The question is, are you living your best possible potential or wasting Nature's most amazing creation?

Upcoming book release

The book on Goal Setting is near completion. I will put the book online next week. The book is divided into three sections:

  1. Desire Management

  2. Setting Goals

  3. Achieving Goals

The first section is very heavy in philosophy. You will dive deep into your mind and explore the secret pathways of desires. The truths mentioned in this section have completely changed the way I treat desires in my life.

The chapters in the section of Setting Goals will help you configure your goals in such a way that chasing them doesn't add more misery to your life. Most people fail to achieve things in life not because they lack the capability, but because they make some simple mistakes while setting goals. This section will make sure you don't make those mistakes.

The Achieving Goals section will help you take action towards your goals. There's no meaning of giving you a goal-setting framework without giving you proper tools that aid you in taking action on your goals. This section will come handy when things go south, when you lack the motivation to work on your goals. It won't give you motivation; it will show you practical solutions to real problems you will face while working on your goals.


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Kobe's Biggest Lesson to the World

Find your Craft and Love it with all you've got.

I am not big on Basketball. I came to know about Kobe from the book Relentless, by Tim Grover. Tim mentions in the book how dedicated Kobe was to his game. I was in the middle of the book when the news about Kobe’s unfortunate death came in.

After Kobe’s death, people started posting stories about how hard Kobe used to work. From the book Relentless, and these stories, it seems he worked harder than most other players in the game.

In one of the interviews, Kobe explains: If I practice four sessions per day, and other competitors practice two sessions per day, after four years there’s no way the competitors will get a chance to cover that up, they will always stay behind.

But behind the glamours of his insane work ethic, something is getting buried beneath the surface. That thing is his LOVE for the game. Kobe loved Basketball with all his heart. His love shows up in his poem Dear Basketball. Here are the lines that struck me the most:

"I played through the sweat and hurt

Not because challenge called me

But because YOU called me.

I did everything for YOU

Because that’s what you do

When someone makes you feel as

Alive as you’ve made me feel."

The YOU in the poem is Basketball. You can feel his deep love for the game. He mentions in several interviews that he was lucky to find this love at an early age. Kobe also shared how he exposes his children to different activities so that they can find their love too. I think this is the most important message we should take from Kobe.

  1. Find your Craft

  2. Love it with ALL you’ve got

Kobe didn’t show us how to work the hardest; he showed us how to love the most. He showed us what true love for your craft looks like. Unfortunately, most people coming across the hustle-stories of Kobe will try to emulate that attitude (the Mamba Mentality, in Kobe’s words) to whatever they are working on. Most of them will fail for obvious reasons and end up adding unnecessary anxiety to their lives.

Don’t forget what Kobe said:

“Because that’s what you do

When someone makes you feel as

Alive as you’ve made me feel.”

Basketball made Kobe feel alive; what makes you feel alive?

Namaste 🙏


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PPS. Connect with me on Twitter at @CrazyPolymath.

Polymath Letters (29/01/2020)

No desire is going to make your life complete

Before starting the email, here’s a gift for you: Letters.PDF. I compiled all previous newsletter emails into this PDF file for your weekend reading.

Let’s get to today’s email.

Today I want to share a realization about desires that changed my life. Last year, in December, I visited Kerala with my best friend. It was a wonderful trip, and one of the best experiences was a stay in a mud-house in the middle of the Chinnar forest. Here’s the view outside the mud-house:

The picture doesn’t do justice to the layers of mountains peeking through clouds and the dense forest around us. But you get the idea. I got to spend two days in a jungle with the closest friend I have. A dream come true.

But.

Something was bothering me. I was feeling very excited on the surface, but deep down, I was feeling the same, as I always felt — a neutral feeling. Strange to describe. This feeling reminded me of the day I launched my first book Pursue your Passion. The book sold 100 copies within two days. I was awestruck. I couldn’t believe this is happening. The feeling of that high stayed for about a month, but after a month, everything was back to normal. All the days were once again the same as they always were.

No matter how big of an achievement you accomplish, the joy from that experience stays only for a couple of weeks. Right now, you might have some desires — some you are working on, and some you are procrastinating on. But the fact remains the same: when you fulfill these desires, your mind will find new ones — new worries, new anxieties, and new problems to solve.

When I tweet such realizations, people often ask what to do then? What’s the solution? Understand this: what I mentioned is just a pattern of the mind; it’s not a problem to be solved. However, there’s one thing you can do: don’t expect something from a desire that it can’t give you. No desire is ever going to make your life complete. Does this mean my life will always be incomplete? No, on the contrary, when you stop chasing completeness, the sense of incompleteness vanishes. You will see that the chase of completeness was creating the illusion of incompleteness in the first place.

Take a step back and recall all the desires you fulfilled in your life — small, big, easy, hard — any desire. Did any of those desires, when fulfilled, made you stop desiring more? Did achieving any of them made you think, this is it, my life is complete now. You still kept having new desires, right? Once a desire is fulfilled, you start looking for new things.

One caution before closing the email — don’t force to stop desiring. A desire to not desire is also a desire. As desires come and go in your life, keep observing the truth behind them; any change that has to occur will occur naturally.

Namaste 🙏

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