Rajan Bala
A soul-stirring first novel…could well be the first of its kind in India written in English …
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Meenakshi Mukherjee
It is a novel difficult to put down.

Charu Sharma
What can I say? Take a bow Hari.
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Dear students,
Let me first thank you all for taking the time to be present here for this talk on ‘Lifestyle management’.  Let me bring out the disclaimers. I am not the world’s leading expert on lifestyle management. One or two things that share today may make a difference to the way you go about with your career and your life. And if that is achieved I think my coming here had achieved its purpose.

My novel ‘The Men Within’ is a story of school kids who have to win a championship at any cost. It is about dreams and how to achieve them. A tough goal with limited resources. How does one motivate someone to die? What’s the cause? If you are the coach of Deccan Chargers what would you do? Would you take the challenge?

The key is easy. Humans love to be good, to excel. Everyone has the streak in them. Only problem is that most of us want recognition, fame and money before we excel. Right? Appeal to the excellence within. The men within the boys. The potential within you. How good are you? Are you good enough for this? Boundaries are stretched. Limits are pushed. Excellence is touched. Magic happens. Someone becomes a Shahrukh, a Dhoni, a Tendulkar... Extrapolate it to your life, your business decisions.

Let’s get down to lifestyle management. I don’t like this word. To me lifestyle is the way we choose to live our life. Our signature on this life. We can burst out of the seams, we can hold ourselves back. Pretty good. It’s a choice. What then are the areas that constitute of our life, the areas where we leave the unique signature. We have the physical realm (health, looks, beauty, relationships), the spiritual realm (happiness, joy, peace) and the material realm (money, cars, houses etc) and whatever categories you can think of.
Ideally there should be a balance between all these. Normally there is no balance. Stress is there because we focus on one at the cost of another, I want one so badly that I ignore another. Health for money, relationships for career etc etc. imbalance leads to breakdown and so on.
Balance. That’s the key. Easier said than done. How does one balance all these? I don’t know. You probably know – being fashion designers. But I know this much, there are two types of balance. One of the flat ground variety where you are standing on safe and secure ground. Another, where you are standing on the edge of the cliff.
If you want to find that balance in your life where you get the best of all you want in life, you must tread this zone. On the edge of the cliff. The zone of excellence.
Imagine walking along a path from the safe ground to the thin cliff. As you go, it’s the same you, the same feet. You’re laughing at people who fall off. You are so good. But then the danger of the cliff arrives on the side, then what if I miss a step?
And somewhere we stop.
But if we believe that all I need for my feet is probably a cliff which is five inches wide and it does not matter if the drop is 10 cms or a few miles, then you are onto something else.
This is the balance of a tight rope walker. The balance of someone who believes they can, whatever the height because they know how to walk that thin line. This is the line where excellence breeds, where people who know what they can do best and have prepared for it exist. This is the zone where you must head for. This is the balance we must look for.
It’s a whole new ball game. It’s all about belief. Like a swimmer can swim, a cyclist a driver. A mountain climber. A word that can take you really far out in life. Not just across the cliff. It can move mountains. It can change the world. Believe in yourself. Don’t have to buy it. It’s just a thought. Tell yourself. I believe I can do it. I believe I can. Sometimes life can be as much uncertain as a cliff.
Belief separates excellence and mediocrity. Not talent. Eg. Sharukh, Amana, Gates. The heroes have enough reason not to be there. How do we earn the belief?
Do you believe you are the best? Are there doubts about your uniqueness? Answer yourself honestly. How good is your self esteem? Now work on it.
Can we sustain this belief? You must. Dhoni’s example of the T20 win shows it. It is when the odds rise that you hold the belief. Don’t go running for outside approval.

You are already on this path. You are heading out to the thin zone. I am too. I quit my job with no backup and no money. I believe that the day for creative content will come and when it does I will be waiting.
I held my belief. When I quit and said I’ll write books they laughed. But I stuck on. Said that’s what I like doing now. If I’d known how crazily the publishing world behaves I might not have.
Okay enough about belief for the time being. We’ll get to my favorite topic. Me. And my book. Want you to see if what I have to say about the process of writing a book makes sense to you when you go out into your careers, your worlds.

I had a dream. A book. On the shelf. Saw some stupid stuff and decided I can do better.
What’s your dream? Have you got any dreams? For yourself.
The thought that stuck me was, are dreams only by default or can we design them. There are no defaults in the business world. So why are they in our life? A bad decision can cost much. So lets see how things, seemingly impossible things can be designed. I. Dreams. Do you have any dreams? Can you see your dreams? Can you feel your dreams? Are you scared of your dreams? How big are your drams? Are they your own? Get clear about it. Not about small or big but your own dream. Your signature.
Make your dreams clear. Why am I doing this? When you see your dreams you will realize how limited we are even in our thinking. The same dreams, the same limited dreams. Is there anything new?
Belief. I knew I had what it takes to write and keep an audience interested. Sometimes it’s not easy to believe. All you need to say is I believe I can. - Take ownership for it. Can you tell others about it?
I took ownership. Writing is lonely so I have to do it alone. But in other areas where you collaborate, you need to own. For good or for bad. That’s the only way to put your heart and soul, your signature behind it. Tomorrow, people must say, hey, this was done by x.

Planned. I read and read. I worked on the structure. The chapters. The character sketches. My themes. I identified one theme. Several unfinished ones. This is my third full novel. Several half baked ones lie in my study. - Then start putting a plan together. All the details. Numbers, time, people. So detailed that there is no chance of a mistake.
The yes factor. As we do in appraisals. In accounting. In maths. And then the most important item.
Preparation. To be as good as the next level. Researching. Dwelling into your reservoir of experiences. Picking and pulling out what can fit in. making notes. Normally preparation is 90%. If you want to be a test cricketer be as prepared as one NOW.
Action. The process of writing. It went through about 150 drafts from me. 100000 words. Written first, typed next. End to end. Adding, editing, layering. I had four audiences so had to make it easy for some, intellectual for some.
The journey is more interesting than the result.

And when I was ready to unleash it I tried different reader types. Good feedback. Alright hit the market. I had a first of a kind novel a sure shot seller.
Publishers rejected it left right and centre.  They just don’t see. Hold your heart. Bandage the ego. Believe in your product.
Finally a small publisher says yes. I sign the contract. Low royalty. No help in design. I designed the cover for them. After much editing work and several more drafts and changes, the book is ready to print. This close to printing and then it was put off for a year. Broke me.
I picked myself up again. Pursued other books. Finally we went to print. Worked out well. Good launch. Other places. I went on my own. Tickets, PR, guests, sales, press coverage. Decided that I am not here to make money on the first book.
Used my contacts to get it into some chains. Followed up on my account. Nurtured relationships. We all started trusting one another a bit. Slowly good news.
Reviews were good. Sales picked up. There were some excellent reader and bookstore feedback. Slowly but surely it touched the bestseller mark. And we were still not on the shelves. I kept seeking avenues. IPL teams, movie makers, Shahrukh, DC, Lalit Modi.
At some point I started moving on to the second book. That’s when I got an offer for a movie. Sold off the rights. Now I know that it will go on its own steam. I believe it will stay for longer than I can imagine. It will be a management book, a life lessons book and cricket coaching manual, a how to achieve dreams manual.
It will, like I told my publisher, sell 10 lakh copies. It’s a good finish for my dream.

Through the process of writing this book I learnt a few things.
Find my voice. Your signature. Don’t copy. Say it like it is. It flows. It’s you.
For that I had to know myself. I did. I could write in a layered fashion and appeal to different audiences.
Play on your strengths.
Honesty is what works in this field. I realized that its one ingredient that touches someone miles away. Feel the honesty.
Know your audience.
Speak to that audience.
Best foot forward. No holding back.

Creativity. All about you. No one can steal it. We commonly try to hold on. Don’t worry.

Back to you. The best lifestyle for you. Hit the zone more often. Its nothing but being the best you. Pushing the limits. Excellence. It is now down to YOU. Now is that hard? Is that possible? Excellence is a choice. 100% you, the best you, the tiger, the potential..
Examples. Continuum. It is not luck. Push the right hand side. 3 buckets. Mediocrity. Average. Excellence. Scale the third wall. Keep pushing until the KBC factor happens.
To me there is only one thing. An excuse or a result. Only you stop yourself. Not because you never had the opportunity. If you make up your mind you can.
The 100% example.

Why don’t we achieve excellence? Fear. Most of us believe we are not good enough. Of failure. But there is a bigger fear. More potent.  Fear of success. It will keep you in failure all the time.

Identify excellence. Perpetuate the thought.
Enjoy the process of the YES factor. 200%. Pushing limits. Covering all details. In these times it does not matter whether anyone is applauding you. You are doing it for yourself. Do it again. Stop looking over your shoulder. Be comfortable with discomfort. Set new limits. When you have two choices, do the one that’s uncomfortable. Face the fear. It dissolves.

Even if the whole world says you are lousy, your self worth must be so good that you still say I am the best. As we choose excellence, we are increasing our self worth. We are increasing our confidence. Our market value. We are increasing our clarity.

As a student then what are your plans? Your dreams? Your value? Your potential? Can you put a value on yourself?

Do it because that’s how you get salaries. Because you put a self cap. Improve self worth through your pursuit of your excellence. Not the safe zone. Be the potential you are – you’ll never know it but try and get a number there. Be fully prepared. No excuses for that. Know what is your best.

A healthy self worth will be all about your strengths. You will feel much more confident, worthy.

Tomorrow you go to the workplace. What is it that you are taking there apart from your qualifications? What is the value you are adding? Do you know what you are there for? Just a salary. A meal. A tag.
No get real. Get higher. You are there to make a difference to this world. Believe in that. Take a dream. To be the best you can in your job. To take complete responsibility for your job and to stretch all your limits. The yes factor. Don’t be another paper pusher. Make the difference. Be the difference.

Do not link your work to money. To appreciation. Do it for yourself. Now you have touched an excellence within you. Sweepers do it. Washermen do it. Barbers do it. Why cant you? Be the professional you are within.

Take this to your jobs. Your careers. Your own dreams. Your enterprises. You will leave the world a better place.
There will be times when you feel like this not working. Remember perfection is already within you. Rock and sculpture. Don’t look out. Find it within.
One other thing I would dwell on is this. Believe in yourself at all times. In your team. Trust your teammates. And good ethics always help.

When you feel good, everything works out. Everything balances out. Lifestyle included. And you get a lifestyle that’s the best.  You feel good when you grow. When you feel the discomfort. Then the real pleasure of achievement hits you.
Wishing you well.



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