Being wary of success

When we don’t meet our expectations or the targets we set to achieve; we are often told to take solace in the fact that failures are a stepping stone for success. We are reminded to introspect ourselves and find out where we went wrong so that we would not repeat the same mistakes again.

However, our successes are always met with adulation and praise and we are made to feel that we have done everything right. As a result, we often fail to introspect and ignore the role of chance that might have played a part in our success. Rarely do people ask us to introspect when we surpass their expectations. 

Consider India’s recent Champions trophy triumph. We only talk about how well India played  in the tournament and how they deserved to win the cup. But it was actually a couple of minutes of  English self destruction in the final that gifted India the cup. Of course, they did play well to get to the final but on another day India could have been on the losing side and we would immediately find a host of reasons for their loss. But for us a victory overshadows all the small mistakes which (un)fortunately did not have to play a major role.

The major reason why we dont ask others to introspect in their moment of glory is that we are bothered only about the final result and not the process leading to that outcome. We dont ask a kid who gets a perfect score on his class test, if he had skipped certain portions but was lucky not to see them on his test paper. A full score means he is a prodigy: No further questions please.

Another reason is that we are afraid to ask someone to take some time to think about his success. We feel that it would roughly translate into something like “Sorry pal, you dont deserve this. You were very lucky” which project us as a jealous person.

In the end, it is upon us to ensure that we don’t overestimate our capabilities or underestimate the role of chance since it is a failure to introspect after a success which often causes our next defeat

Why this kolaveri?

We all have faced kolaveri moments in our lives due to certain people. Moments when we feel a rage building inside ourselves. Moments which leave us scrambling to hide our faces. Moments when we feel there is no use trying to explain things to them. Moments when we just pity them.

Well, this blog aims to share some of  my kolaveri moments. Though these kolaveri moments were experienced with different people, for simplicity’s sake, I am describing these moments keeping in mind a fictional Auntyji, her husband Uncleji and their three children: Bade Bhaiyya, Chinku and Little Tina. While most of these kolaveri moments are true, some are cooked up for the sake of continuity of these conversations.

Me: Auntyji, please take these sweets. I am happy to inform that I have got admission into NIT Trichy where I will be pursuing engineering.

Auntyji: Thats nice Beta. But why are you going to Tiroochi?  I hear only about students coming to Chennai to study engineering from all over India.

Me: *head slam* But Auntyji, NIT is among the top institutes……(stops me)

Auntyji: Its ok beta, you should study what you want. Besides, whatever happens is for one’s good. So, dont get disheartened if u didnt get admission here. Oh, did I tell you about Chinku? He is in his final year at the prestigious Champulal college. Nearby only. Comes home daily. Studies well, only 3 arrears but now all clear.

Me: *bang**bang**bang* Oh, thats nice aunty.

Auntyji: Yes, we are very lucky. He can come home daily and enjoy. I feel sorry for you dear, you have to go to Tiroochi. Very hot climate. And hostel life would be tough, adjusting with local tamilians and all. But anyway you will come out tougher.

Me: (Oh for goddamn sake,atleast pronounce it correctly. Its Trichy not Tiroochi) Thank you aunty.

Little Tina comes running in.

LT: V bhaiya, you are going to live separately and study? How come? Bade Bhaiya and Chinku all studied in home only at Champulal college. Why dont you join there V Bhaiya?

Auntyji interrupts

Auntyji(whispering): Ssshh Tina, don’t be so rude. Now wish him all the best.

LT: Sorry V Bhaiya. All the best. Hey, what will you be studying in Tiroochi Bhaiya? Hey firstly where is Tiroochi Bhaiya?
Brings out a globe and asks me to locate it.

Me: *blank* Engineering. TRICHY is close from here.

LT: Yaaaay, engineering.Is it computers? My brothers who always do geeky stuff with computers. Will u teach me computer after engineering bhaiya?

Me: No no Tina. I will be studying Instrumentation engineering.

LT: Oh wow. It about making musical instruments isnt it? I love music bhaiya. I am also going to become instrument engineer like you. And I am not very intelligent like my brothers to work on computers.

Auntyji: See Tina, now you can ask bhaiya to make violin for your music class. You wanted new violin no?

Me: (Why did I even come here?)

Part 2:

Auntyji: Hello, V beta. So thin and dark you have become. You must be suffering there. Here have some peda. Whats that beta?

Me: Its my android phone aunty.

Auntyji: Nice…but I don’t understand beta, this android and iphone and all. What is the difference between them and Nokia- DoubleX DoubleY. Both are used to call and send message and even my phone has camera also and snake game too.

Me: *bang* These phones are different in sense that they have different operating systems blah, apps blah, customizability blah…

Auntyji: I don’t understand these engineering terms beta….Anyway leave it.

A few days later when I am trying to unravel a tight shoe lace knot when uncleji stops by and removes the knot in a jiffy.

Uncleji: What is this V? U are engineering student and u don’t know how to tie shoe laces.

Next time, when I fumble in trying to screw a loose nut of my table fan, uncleji stops by and does it in a jiffy.

Uncleji: You and all an engineering student.

Me: (Yeah right, I study Digital Signal Processing and Control systems. How in the world is studying engineering related to these situations)* smiles like a dork* Thank u uncleji.

The End

P.S- Kindly pardon the pathetic use of the English Language in some places. It has been done to represent the situation realistically.

When luck becomes a problem

The dictionary defines luck as good fortune or adversity brought by chance and not through one’s own actions.   Luck can be experienced in two different situations.

Situations where we do not have control over the outcome such as winning a lottery or losing a game of dice or suffering an accident etc and situations where we can control the outcome.

It is in the latter situations that luck can have an adverse impact on our minds.

Consider two students A and B who prepare for an exam. A studies exactly half of the portions while B studies the other half. In the exam it is found that the questions largely pertain to the domain which A prepared for. So, A scores much higher marks than B though both studied exactly the same amount.  Naturally, both would believe that luck was the reason for their outcomes considering both of them knew each other’s preparation levels.

The unlucky B would ask himself why he wasn’t as lucky as A and that he might continue his same practices hoping that luck would favor him the next time, like it did for A. Chances are that he would again likely be unable to meet his aim of a high score.

Meanwhile, A would no doubt feel elated at his performance in the exam. However, he fails to realize that it defeats the larger purpose of mastering the subject. Furthermore, he might continue the same practices for the next exam and could suffer the same fate as B did.

Let’s take another example of a batsman who plays reckless shots but ends up scoring a century due to sheer luck. Dropped catches, balls narrowly missing the stumps and missed run out chances all would have played a part in his century. The next batsman gets inspired by watching him and plays his first rash stroke the first ball he faces and gets out due to a fluke catch. Here also luck had  affected the outcomes.

The first batsman might continue to play the same way in the next match and would get out soon while the latter would also continue to play the same way hoping that luck would favor him the next time with no guarantee of success.

These examples illustrate the dependence on luck in situations where we have control over the outcome.

Instead of attributing one’s success or failure due to luck isn’t it better to avoid the dependence on luck and instead concentrate on preparing for all possible difficulties which may arise in the situations thereby guaranteeing success always ?  For you never know when luck can help you.

Why do people listen to music?

People listen to music for a variety of reasons. We can choose the way we want music to respond to our requirements. It can satisfy whatever we want to seek by listening to it. Therein lies the beauty of music.

Based on my experiences, here are the different types of listeners.

The Moodies

These are the ones who turn to music to alter their mood. Some who feel sad listen to music to lighten their spirits, some listen to relax after a tough day at the office, some listen simply because they feel happy and some listen to avoid feeling lonely. These are by far the largest group of listeners.

The fans

This type of people listen to music for fun. They simply enjoy listening to their choice of music. Period.

The critics

These are the ones who listen for the sole purpose of analyzing the technicalities of music; the voice, the pitch, the tune, the instruments played etc. They perceive music as an art and judge the value and the degree of excellence of various music works.
The inspiration seekers

They turn to music for inspiration to meet their goals. While listening they visualize what they wish to do and music serves as a confidence and energy booster to them. (I belong to this group)

Of course, people may not strictly belong to such specific groups always as the reasons for listening may vary from time to time.Today a person may listen to music to relax while the next day he might listen to music for seeking inspiration. But broadly these are the reasons why people listen to music.

So, why do YOU listen to music?

Does ‘failure’ really exist?

What exactly is ‘failure’? Most dictionaries define failure as the lack of success. We define success. It is a goal which we wish to achieve. It could be getting a centum in the math exam or following a strict diet. So, when we do not achieve these self-defined goals, we say that we have failed in our task.

Let us take the examples of two students ‘A’ and ‘B’. Both are appearing for the same exam with different aims and different levels of preparation.

Lets say that ‘B’ is aiming to pass. He  has studied 40 percent of the syllabus and has practiced all possible types of questions related to that portion to make sure that he doesn’t face a new problem related to that 40 percent of the syllabus in the exam. In the end he scores 40, the number required to pass. ‘A’ believes that he has studied everything and is aiming for a perfect score. ‘A’ has practiced like ‘B’ covering almost the entire syllabus but he is not as comfortable with one chapter which leads to the loss of 3 marks. So although ‘A’ might take solace from being the topper, he has failed in his goal which was to score 100, while B has succeeded in achieving his goal of passing.

Clearly, ‘B’ has made sure that he would not fail while ‘A’ had jeopardized his chances of getting a perfect score by not preparing as hard on one chapter as he did for the others.

Before setting out to achieve our goals we often believe that we have met the prerequisite conditions to achieve it but may later end up failing. This is because those prerequisite conditions are set by us. Have we really included the solutions to all possible difficulties in it like the student ‘B’? If we haven’t done so we mostly end up ‘ failing’.( I say ‘mostly’ because you never know when lady luck can hit you )

So if we have met all those prerequisite conditions where is the question of failure?  If we make every single adjustment and be prepared for all the difficulties which may arise during our quest to achieve that goal, we will never fail. But if we have not met those prerequisite conditions, then is it fair to expect to succeed? Shouldn’t the student ‘A’ be expecting to score 97 instead of 100?

What I’m trying to say is that ‘Failure’ is a type of perception. It arises when there is a mismatch  between our definition of success and our level of preparation. For when we have not prepared ourselves entirely, we may not succeed as we haven’t achieved the goal set by us, but we do achieve something which is proportional to our level of preparation. If the student ‘A’ had aims of scoring 97, he would have succeeded as his definition of success and his level of preparation would have matched.

So when a person believes that he has ‘failed’, it actually means that he has succeeded with some other definition of success and not the one he wished for.

(P.S- This is a very complex philosophical post where I have tried my best to express my belief. You may not understand this post or disagree with me. In any case, please do leave a comment. )

Is ‘Talent’ overrated?

Many tend to agree that a ‘talented’ person is one who generates extraordinary results on his initial attempts at something: whether it is the budding cricketer who plays beautiful strokes which would make Sachin Tendulkar proud, or the young singer whom everyone believes is the next Micheal Jackson.

But is ‘talent’ really required to succeed?

We often complain of many ‘talented’ people who have not really lived up to their ‘talents’. I am one such person according to my parents, as they believe that my grades are not worthy of my ‘talent’. On the other hand, there are people like Rahul Dravid whom we didn’t consider to be ‘talented’ but have gone on to achieve great things solely due to their perseverance and hard work.

Whether the ‘talented’ people consistently display their ‘talents’ is far more important than just their ability to perform brilliant things.

So it all comes down to practice since consistent performance requires perseverance and not ‘talent’. Being ‘talented’ may help to achieve success in a slightly shorter time. But not being ‘talented’ will never be an obstacle in achieving success.

As the saying goes, “Practice makes a man perfect!”