Life is full of “Choices”


We all face ups and downs in life. We are happy about our decisions when things go well but feel disappointed when they things don’t go our way. This is natural. However, on reflection I feel that we always have choices in life and it is up to us to make a choice. Sometimes we may end up making a wrong choice and it ok to accept it as a reality. It is not fair to believe that there were no alternatives before us.

Let us recall any incident in life. I am reminded of the first car I bought in my career. It was a second hand car. In 1987, the company gave me a loan and I could not afford to buy a new car with that money and hence opted to buy a second hand car. This car I had bought after due consideration and review amongst the choices I had in front of me. Fortunately it turned out to be a good choice. I used the car for five years and sold it at a profit after that. Assuming it had been a bad choice, can I blame my employer to give me a limited loan or blame the seller for selling his car to me. I always had the option of buying a car or not buying a car. I could have bought a second hand or a new car. I could have bought some other brand too.

So, my learning in life is that in everything we do, we have choices. We always make our decision based on the best available information in front of us. Sometimes our choice may work out and at other times it may not. This does not mean we do not choices in life. We end up blaming the environment or at least try to externalise or blame the environment for the wrong choices we make. I think this is not fair. We have to own up the choices we make and take full responsibility for the choices we make.

I chose a junior in college and opted to marry her. After due consideration and with her unconditional consent, we decided to marry. Today it is 35 years since we are happily married. Today I can say it was the right choice since it has worked for me. Assuming it had not worked out for either of us, can we blame each other. Nobody forced us to marry. Neither our parents coerced us nor anyone else. We had a choice to marry or not to marry. How can we blame anyone for our decision to marry ?

I feel life is no different. We always have multiple choices in front of us. It is up to us to take our own time, evaluate all the options and then make the best choice in our best judgement at that point of time. We have take full responsibility for our choice and be willing face the consequences if it does not work for us. When it works, we are happy to own our decision and when it does not we want to blame someone else or the environment around us.

I recently met a college teacher who very nicely explained the concept of internal locus of control. He said in life we have to believe that everything is under our control and we are responsible for all our actions. In every situation, we have a choice to say yes or no. We also have a choice to say may be. We could decide then and there or take our time to decide. In every situation, we have to believe that our decision is ours. Everything is under our control and we can make things happen around us. This way life becomes a journey of possibilities. Otherwise, life appears as a road full of obstacles.

I also recently read a very nice suggestion. We all make a “To Do” list every day for our daily chores. Most of us end up either not beginning those tasks or finishing only half of them. It was suggested that instead of calling it the “To Do” list, if we call it “Possibilities” it changes the way we look at it. It infuses a positive energy and makes everything look possible. The chances of our accomplishing the majority of them looks brighter.

Even a diabetic has a choice to eat a tempting sapota/chiku or not. If he eats, he only needs to exercise a little more that day. Nothing more than that.

Let us believe that life is full of choices and we are in full control of it.

Let us begin today.

S Ramesh Shankar

“Never say die…. Attitude”

I am a born optimist in life. I generally do not give up on anything – in personal or work life. I believe there is always a way forward if we try. I admire people who have a “Never say die.. Attitude “. Their attitude is infectious and efforts admirable.  

Life is full of choices. We can choose to be happy or sad. We can choose to try or to give up. We can choose to live healthy or otherwise. It’s all in our hands. I have met people, who will never give up on anything in life. There are such people in all walks of life.  

The first example comes from the field of sports. We do not see a great sportsperson give up till the last moment of the match. It’s their belief in themselves. Winning is journey for them and not a destination. They never rest after winning a match. They rather start practising for the next. Not to give up ever is infused in their blood and this is what makes them great.

Let me share some examples of people I have met in my life and how they have inspired me to never give up. The first person I met was a batch mate of mine who started his career with me in a public sector undertaking. He had an ambition of joining the civil services and tried three times and could not make it. But never gave up. However, what inspired me was his efforts to go to the USA to work and settle. He applied for a visa at least ten times and was rejected each time for some reason or the other. But he never gave up. He kept on trying and finally has gone and settled down there. Even in the USA, he lost his job after some years due to a recession but did not give up. He studied further by taking a break and again bounced back into a better job.  

Another inspiring story is that of a colleague at work. She worked with me and was posted in a remote location. Her husband had a congenital disease and works in a public sector organisation. She has one child who is studying well. This lady is an epitome of this attitude of “Never say die..”. She has been trying all types of treatment for her hubby and is confident that he will fully recover. She takes care of her daughter like mom and dad together. At work, I am yet to meet anyone in the organisation, who does not praise her for her attitude. Thus both at work and in her personal life, she never gives up.

I salute such people. Their self belief and their tenacity are admirable. All of us can be that way but we tend to give up when things do not go our way. It is at such times, we need to look around and get inspiration of people like these, who are like super humans, who we can be inspired from. It is like in the photo above, these people never give up and even try to keep the sun between their fingers.

Let us never give up. We need to learn from them.

S Ramesh Shankar

Excuses for everything

Almost every day begins and ends with excuses for most of us.  Let us start from the morning.  We refuse to get up from bed, when woken up by someone.  We blame the weather or the exhausting day at work on the previous day.  Then once we get up, we have an excuse not to go for the walk or the jog.  It’s raining – how can one go for a walk ?  Then we get late to work and when the boss enquires we have the common excuse of traffic congestion on the way.

Now that we are at work, do the excuses stop.  I do not think so.  When a customer calls us enquiring about a delayed delivery, we put the blame on manufacturing or some other department and explain in details how it is beyond our control.  When the customer asks as to why we did not call up and inform her, we have a box full of excuses.  We had the board meeting and two new product launches and how when we tried a few times, the customers’ phone was not reachable.

Let’s assume the day at work begins and ends with excuses.  Now, let’s move on to the gym.  As we reach the gym and our instructor enquires the reasons for our poor attendance, we have a long list of reasons.  We blame the weather, the boss, the spouse and of course the traffic is always a ready made excuse for almost everything in life.

What is interesting is that when we are late at work, we blame the traffic but when we have to go on a holiday, we are always on time to the airport never miss a flight.  We do not know how we invent excuses for things we do not enjoy but do not need excuses for things we do.

Now, let’s check at home.  We have a long list of excuses to return late from work.  Again the boss is handy and followed by heavy workload, customer visits, official dinner and so on.  We also have excuses to tell our spouse of how busy we were at work and as to why we could not call up home to inform.

We always have excuses to give our kids when they want us to take them out for a movie or to the park.  We promise to take them the following week and that week never arrives.  We have a host of excuses to postpone it multiple times till the children stop asking us or forget about their request.  

After we return home, we again have good excuses to tell our spouse as to why we could not pay electricity bills or water bills.  We have reasons to miss the doctor’s appointment.  We sometimes even forget our kids birthday party and have excuses to justify that.

It is like we may have an excuse for not wearing the seat belt in the back seat of a car as in the picture above ? We may say that nothing would happen in the back seat and nobody wears it anyway and hence why should I ?

Is life full of excuses ?  May be if we want it that way.  However, if we decide to take charge of ourselves, may be life would be different.  We have reasons to be happier.  We may not need excuses to justify our existence at home or work.  Life may be happier and cosier.

Let’s try it from today.

S Ramesh Shankar