Tough Times Don’t Last; Tough People Do

Siachen Glacier: The average winter snowfall is more than 1000 cm (35 ft)
and temperatures can dip to −50 °C

The present situation has been singularly responsible to re-look at our priorities. It has forced each one of us to introspect. Among my family (and friends) we’ve started a game, these three words will not be used in our vocabulary: Virus, Covid, Pandemic … use any other word for reference (atithi or guest – atithi tum kab jaoge? Guest, when do you plan to leave?)

The lockdown had eight major takeaways: one. Let’s be humble. We are not indispensable. There are greater forces than us. two. Let’s take care of nature. There is just one planet earth and it needs to breathe. Our actions have to be considerate towards nature. three. Frugal living is beautiful. It helps us connect with ourselves better. four. Flexibility is a virtue. Keep an open mind. What brought you here, may not take you there. five. Put health first. It has to be a priority. six. Success or failure depends on extraneous factors. Chill. seven. Connectivity is a necessity. and eight. Last but not the least. Being is more important than doing. We are human beings not human doings.

A number of people, once they hear that I’m an infantry man, have walked up and asked me this one question: “Sir, how did you face bullets?” (Qs could also be like, how did you control your emotions? Were you scared? so and so forth).

Where did we get the confidence to face oncoming bullets? The foremost confidence building measure is TRAINING. Training instills confidence. Training is assuring; you are better than your adversary. Training prepares us for adverse situations. Situations where your amygdala takes charge and prepares your body for the ‘fight or flight mode’. It prepares your muscle memory. You don’t think. Your body moves on auto-pilot and all you see is like Arjun; ‘the eye of the bird’. In all our training, the one things that stands out loud and clear is the re-wiring of our brains. The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.

Train, Train and Train some more

We know these times (tough times) won’t last. We have to be stronger and we will last. We will come out winners. Success (whatever your definition of success is) is the direct function of training (deliberate practice) and sustained effort; lage raho munnabhai.

How do ordinary people, people like you and me, people from all walks of life – join the forces and perform extraordinary feat? If you pin it, it all boils down to: a. Develop your muscle memory. Your life could be dependent on it. b. Discipline. I cannot harp more on the importance of self-discipline. c. Live a healthy lifestyle/routine. Have a good nights sleep (7 hours) and wake up before the sun peeps out. Eat healthy. Live healthy. d. Physical fitness must be a priority. Give 45 to 60 minutes daily for fresh oxygen to travel through your billion cells. e. Mental robustness. Nothing can affect my positive attitude. My life; my choice. f. Be a team man. Camaraderie. Team player. one for all and all for one. g. Have pride in the organization you work for. Don’t like it, then quit. It’s your choice BUT once in, unflinching loyalty. These help you making good choices for life. Our lives in the uniform is dependent on our buddy. He covers your back.

Of course there will be failure enroute? Its only natural. You’re not KOed in boxing so long as you get up. Have faith in yourself. Have confidence and trust the plan. The divine plan. Don’t turn around to ask, ‘Why me?’ Like this guest that’s visiting our planet – it has impacted everybody. Just like you don’t question the rising sun from East – its bound to happen. It’s a given. Come what may. Take it that failures (guests) are bound to happen. Come what may. So be it. Work around the challenge. When one door shuts, five windows open? See which one suits you and and take the plunge.

Remember, your experiences define you. Make memories. Look for opportunities that help you build your repertoire. Each year take it upon yourself to take on something new. It will help you focus. It will help you achieve. It will help you enhance your skill set. It will help in your life with a direction. A motivation. It builds your self esteem, your self belief and your self motivation.

The one question that you need to ask during these times: Will I come out stronger or will I come out weaker? This is the time to ask: What is my statement? If I had to describe myself in ONE sentence, what would that be?

It All Begins with YOU

The COVID-19 and the resultant pandemic, along with the lock-down has had a all of us cooped up in our homes. During the interim, I had a number of online sessions. Interacting with the YOUth across the spectrum, if there is one thing that stood out for me, it would be how the YOUth adapted/ adopted to this period. In a vast number of cases it had to do with uncertain future, demotivation, anxiety, job loss and resultant stress/ depression.

Some of the words (and the resultant emotions) had to do with the economy (depressed), psychological impact (negative), anxiety, fatigue, stress, suicide and so on and so forth. While, some of us saw it differently; opportunity to connect with family, a healthy lifestyle (and hygiene), environment (and its positive impact, with lesser emissions/ green house/ ozone layer), connect with nature (pets & plants). In a number of cases, it was how you looked (and handled) the issue.

I believe that a lot of this has to do with your “self talk“. What do you tell yourself? What do you tell yourself when you are faced with a situation/ challenge/ issue/ problem? Some of the chatter (inside your head) is what you’ve heard over the years – your parents, your elders, your teachers. This goes a long way to pattern your thinking. While growing up, if you’ve been constantly told that “you cannot do it” or “it’s beyond you” or similar words, its a belief system that takes shape in your mind.

There are a number of ways to overcome this writing in your head. It starts with your self talk. In school, we had a prayer (early mornings) and the lyrics went something like this: Humko man ki shakti dena, man vijay kare, Dusaron ke jai se pehele, khudhko jai kare. [Oh God, Grant us inner strength to be victorious over our minds, Before victory over others, may we gain victory over ourselves.] In those halcyon days, we never understood the deeper meaning of the passage.

Each day, early morning, what do you tell yourself. Of course, there will be challenges. Of course there will be ambiguity. Of course, things will not move as you want them to OR as you planned it to be. In the uniform, we said, “If you plan for three options, be sure the enemy will adopt the fourth”. So be it. Do you give up? That is not an option.

So your self talk should be on something on these lines. ” XYZ you are good. You’ve always been good. Look at your results (and recollect some of the wonderful achievement of yours). You can do it. Yes, there have been times, when you could not do it due to … but having addressed that, there is no reason for you to fail. Let give it a try.” Thoughts on similar lines, would also help.

Unless you believe in yourself, fat chance, that the world will believe in you. Unless you radiate confidence, slim chance, that the world will feel confident around you. Unless you demonstrate peace, calm and in control, people around you will panic. It begins with YOU.

Post-pandemic the one question you need to ask yourself is: Will I come out stronger OR will I come out weaker?