Monday, August 8, 2016

Three sources of inspiration

A few weeks ago, a series of three unrelated things came together to form a fiercely inspiring moment for me.

I heard a talk by an investor and holocaust survivor, Arnold Van Den Berg.  He spoke about focus and how his father espoused it as being the essential element of having survived the death march. A 24 hour, 20 mile walk between concentration camps, on a couple of slices of bread, when he was malnourished and weak to start with. He said the only thing that got him through that was a faultless focus on putting one leg in front of the other and locking the knee each time. If *any* other thought entered his mind, the knee would have given way. A fall would have followed. And, falling was not an option because you got whipped and shot if you couldn't continue walking. If you wanted to survive, you focussed one hundred percent on your knee.

I need focus.

I met an entrepreneur who works a fulltime job. She said she doesn't hesitate to invest in herself and never fails to be positive, patient and persevering. Against all odds she was a happy and successful person. She was a great person to talk to and I realized that the difference between the masses and those like her was hardwork and nothing else. When I mentioned that to her, she said she wakes up at 3am everyday. My first thought was "Is that even possible?!".

I need to work harder.

Then, what sealed the deal was a quote by a politician. He was talking about his working class parents and that though his mother wasn't the lecturing kind, she told him this: “You can either be right or you can do right. If you want to be right go ahead and be a pessimist. If you want to do right, be an optimist.” For a while, I've been what I've considered a realist. Having worked on the field in a non-profit in India for a few years I allowed myself to grow some cynicism, and thus reality became pessimistic. After years of hearing that I shouldn't be a pessimist from my most trusted mentors, and feeling inner dissonance that it would be wrong to ignore everything I knew, this quote did it for me. Yes, I could be right all I wanted. But was that important?

I need an attitude shift.

I've been waking up at 4am for the last few days and find myself doing that easily now. I've been trying to utilize my extra hours well. I'll get there soon.