Author: Mayur Gudka (Page 1 of 2)

Three Questions for Personal Growth

Assessment is a critical part of any personal improvement framework.

Reflection is a wonderful assessment tool.

Weekly reflections on actions and their results is a good habit to form.

It’s not something I do on a regular basis, even though I know I should be doing it.

While I continue to improve on this habit, it’s also a habit I’d like my children to develop.

But, you can’t get granular with children. It just doesn’t work that way. Even with adults, it can get tedious after a while. With their short attention spans you just can’t be too granular on topics like this. Especially if you want to continue doing this in the long run.

Rather, I feel the assessment should be of very high level with kids.

I’ve come up with three simple questions I’m going to start using with my kids on a weekly basis, preferably Sunday evenings.

Here they are:

Question 1 – What have you completed?

Question 2 – What have you improved upon?

Question 3 – What have you failed at?

The first questions is about progress, second is about growth, and third is about experimentation.

They’re all critical components of personal growth. You can’t have growth without experimentation, and you can’t have progress without growth. Oh, and without progress life just becomes a hamster wheel … doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results.

One last thought.

Celebrate! Regardless of the answers they give, Celebrate! Celebrate not just their successes or failures, but celebrate your kids for their courage, their resilience, their grit, celebrate them for just being kids.

The Culture of More

The culture of more is wrong.

The culture of more is right.

Both statements are accurate … depending on our focus.

What are we focusing the “More” on?

Is it More Money? More Cars? More Houses? More Family Time? More Vacations? More Conversations with Friends? More Sports? More Community Service? More Dining Out? More Movies? More Reading Books? More WHAT?

The “Focus on More” in turn depends on our personal values and priorities in life.

And, that is where we invest/squander our resources.

Two Choices

Can you imagine what advice you would give to yourself, the day you graduated?

I wondered that this morning. Here’s what I wrote.


Congratulations on your graduation!

Life begins now. You’ll be presented with two choices every morning.

  1. Go through the day.
  2. Live the day.

The good of it – You’re in control of this choices.

The bad of it – If you don’t decide, you automatically choose the first option.

Neither decision is right or wrong. It’s simply YOUR decision.

I hope you have the courage to follow your heart.

Here’s a secret: Day becomes much easier, if you make that decision before you get out of bed.

Romancing with an Idea vs. Loving the Act

My 6-year-old loves the library. She diligently visits it bi-weekly and checks out 5-6 books per visit. At home, she keeps the books on her writing desk. Two weeks later, she returns them to the library and repeats the cycle. While at home, the books simply sit on her desk. She never opens them.

Ask her if she likes reading books, and she’ll always answer in affirmative. She loves books, and she means to read every single one of them. Yet, she simply does not.

Let me rephrase. The idea of reading books is very romantic to her. Yet, she does not because the love for reading (the act) is not there yet.

Going to gym is a wonderful idea. Millions sign-up on January 1st, each year. Yet, come February … you know what happens. The idea of going to the gym is very romantic. But the act of exercising, is not very lovable.

At our home, we buy fresh fruits and vegetables every week. We also throw away a bunch of rotten fruits and vegetables every week. Again … the idea of eating fresh, healthy vegetables is very romantic. But the act of preparing meals with them, is not very lovable.

I was oblivious to this difference all my life. And because of that, I’ve put myself through too much heartache. Just because I’d find the idea romantic, I’d sign up for it and soon regret it. However, because I’d committed to it, I’d go through it regardless while being miserable throughout the entire experience. Running was one of them. I quickly discovered I’m not the runner type.

Martial Arts on the other hand … now that’s an idea I not only find romantic, but thoroughly enjoy practicing and improving.

Decision time. Now that I finally understand the difference between the two, I’m going to stop committing to every idea that seems romantic at the outset. Rather, I’ll give it a short test run to see if I love the act. If I don’t, the idea does not get my commitment, or my resources.

This simple idea will allow me to have many experiences, but only be committed to those I truly enjoy.

Someone pointed out that if I stuck with an act long enough, and showed discipline, it may just work out.

I somewhat agree. While an act requires discipline for one to be successful at it, I believe enjoyment of the act is a prerequisite. If I don’t enjoy it, I’m unable to be disciplined at it.

Have you had experiences where you were miserable? Did the idea of doing it seem romantic? Yet, the actual act was anything but?

100 Hours

Magic happens when you combine hard work with discipline and intelligence.

100 hours is what I was thinking about this morning.

What can you accomplish if you had 100 hours?

If you give a project, or an idea 10 hours a week for 10 weeks, that’s 100 hours … how much progress would one make?

10 hours a week seem too much? That’s 2 hours a day, an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, Monday to Friday.

What about 50 hours? 5 hours a week for 10 weeks? That’s one hour a day working on a personal project, or an idea. The weekends are still free.

52 weeks in a year. If one takes 10 weeks at a stretch, works on an idea and takes three weeks off to relax and rejuvenate, and continues the cycle, that would equal to 4 large projects with 3 weeks of relaxation between each.

Theoretically this makes sense. Practically, it’s a test about discipline.

I’m going to give it a shot. My discipline muscle needs a lot of work. This would be a good experiment. Will see what happens.

Inner Scorecard

We all need a compass of values, the ones we set for ourselves, not because they look good to others, but because we believe in them wholeheartedly, and then we need to let that compass guide our actions in life.

Warren Buffett has a term for it – Inner Scorecard.

Problems arise when we do things to conform to other people’s expectations of us. That’s dumb living. Also, a source of great many of our problems.

Rather, why not act, live, and conform to only those standards that we set for ourselves. If we believe something should not be done, let’s not do it. Vice versa, if we believe something should be done, avoid it at all costs. It’s not going to be easy. There may be a lot of opposition. So what? When all is said and done, we’ll be proud because we lived up to our own standards, not to those dictated by others.

It takes courage to go against the tide, to dance to one’s own rhythm. It’s going to be hard, but we’ll figure it out.

For, that is the only way to truly live. It leads to a satisfied life. Rest is all a show, perception manipulation, for the sake of ego and status to impress others.

I’m still working on this myself, and I’m years away from where I would like to be. If you understand this post, and decide to implement the idea, start small and go easy on yourself. The transformation can take years, maybe decades. No need to beat ourselves up. Change takes time. Recognize that. The important thing is the direction of our movement. Speed comes later.

Yeah, I know this post got a little heavy, but those are today’s thoughts.

It’s something to meditate on, and work on it for a long time.

An Experiment of Monthly Goals

Several weeks ago, I had a thought. Rather than set annual resolutions, why not set small monthly goals and be mindful about achieving them?

I am constantly in experimentation mode with something or the other, so why not experiment with this as well? This was towards the end of February.

So I set a goal for March 2022 – Learn how to do a Headstand.

Let’s fast forward to end of March – I could stay in a headstand with my feet straight up, well-balanced. The most I stayed up was under a minute. It was far better than 1-second headstands that I could do before.

I enjoyed the tiny challenge. But more importantly, I learned a few things about goal setting in the process. Here’s what I learned:

  • I need to enjoy the process. If I don’t enjoy it, it’s not a good goal for me. Without enjoyment, I’m simply torturing myself for the sake of “goal”. I can usually tell within the first week or two if I love it or not.
  • Keep the pressure off. I kept my expectations very low. Any progress I made at the end of the month was acceptable. Even no progress would be okay.
  • The results must be tangible. I could measure how long I stayed in the headstand position, independently without any support. This gave me a daily measurement of whether I was progressing forward or sliding back.
  • It was okay to quit if I found myself miserable with it within a week or two. Because come next month, I would set a new goal with something else, and attempt it again.
  • It can’t be a forever goal. It has to have an end. Walking daily is a forever goal. That’s not a good goal for me. It’s something I will do as and when I feel like it because I enjoy it, but my goals need a clear end.
  • More I worked on the goal, more motivated I became. It added energy to me and my goal, not drain energy out of me. That was a very important lesson for me.
  • Goal setting is a process that needs to be personalized. It not a one-fit solution for everyone. I needed to customize it for myself so I can position myself for success. There are other guidelines for goal setting out there that are not conducive to me. If I use those, I’d be setting myself up for failure.

I own a company called Enjoyable Books. I am looking to grow my email marketing database for it, and one of the ways I am exploring is by doing presentations of book marketing ideas. So, I set that as my objective for April – Build a Book Marketing Ideas Presentation.

So far, I’ve worked on it every day of April for about 30-45 minutes each day, and I am about halfway through my first rough draft. Most importantly, I look forward to working on it when I wake up.

I am enjoying this process, and I can already see that as I reflect on my year in December, I will have a string of successes to look at.

For May, I’m contemplating what to work on – my harmonica skills, or fiction writing skills. I am not very good at either. I’m leaning towards harmonica, simply because it’s going to be a busy month, and that can be practiced any place, anytime. Whereas writing will need some dedication.

If you’ve never considered setting monthly goals, I highly encourage it. It’s an amazing experience. Keep a dairy if you can, or even a piece of paper of all the things you’re experimenting with. When you look at it in future, you just may marvel at yourself.

Here are some more ideas on my list for upcoming months:

  • Play the harmonica
  • Write short stories
  • Learn to swim
  • Solve Rubik’s cube
  • Do full splits
  • Run a mile (Currently I can run no more than a quarter mile).
  • Do a 5-minute Horse Stance
  • Learn horse riding
  • Do a cartwheel
  • Create a Podcast

I am confident the list will continue to expand in the future. It seems like an exciting adventure. Hope you try it out too. Let me know.

Success comes from hard work and luck.

Without luck, very few people are successful. Hard work alone will not cut it.

The above idea does not sit well with many people. They don’t like the idea that hard work does not guarantee success. They’ve grown up all their life hearing, ‘work hard and you will succeed’.

That’s an inaccurate narrative, at least when you’re talking large scale success.

Warren Buffett often talks about how luck played a crucial role in his life.

If hard work alone was the prerequisite for success, construction laborers would be the wealthiest people on earth.

That’s clearly not the case.

Some people also take this the wrong way and stop working hard.

Don’t be stupid. Hard work invites luck.

Work hard. Do your best in all things, and luck will present itself. Sometimes it may take years or decades before luck presents itself. Be patient. Persist. Trick is not to be discouraged and to continue working harder. For, that is what you control. You cannot control luck. You do control how you work.

And when luck arrives, you will begin seeing signs of success.

A word of caution … after luck is identified, hard work is still required. Without hard work, luck will go away.

With luck by its side, hard work will result into massive success.

On hard work

Decide … to do everything well.

No matter how large or small the task at hand, do it well.

People who do shoddy work or work that simply gets them by, do not get noticed.

People who work hard get noticed. Getting noticed … is code for luck.

And when you get noticed by the right people, you get even luckier, and success follows.

On luck

Want to get lucky?

Do three things.

  1. Work hard.
  2. Put yourself in a position where your hard work is noticed by the right people.
  3. Continue working harder, for if you stop, luck will disappear and put you back at square one.

Networking is something you will need to be adept at. If making small talk, and networking with others is not your strong suit, you will need to strengthen it. Without it, luck will often be evasive. With networking, luck will find your hard work quickly.

Networking is like swimming. You can read about it and watch videos about it. But the only way you will become better at it is by doing it.

What is the value of our life on earth?

Monetarily speaking, each human is worth about $10 million dollars. You can google the question if you want.

I was thinking more in terms of “remembrance”.

Calculating our Life Value

My first thought was … longer people remember you, greater your value.

More I thought about it, I discovered that is not fully accurate. The answer really lies in a three-part equation.

  1. How many people think of me after my death?
  2. How long will I be remembered for after I am dead?
  3. What will people remember me for?

The first two questions can be answered numerically. Answer to the third question is either positive or negative.

Let me give you two examples.

Abraham Lincoln

Let’s go through the questions for good ole’ Abe.

First question … How many people thought of Abe after his death? The entire nation did, and many other people around the world did too.

Second question … How long will Abe be remembered for after his death?

Lincoln died in 1865. We continue to remember him today, and I think it would be safe to say people will still talk about him for next several centuries.

Third question … What will people remember Abe for?

Good things. Positive things.

So, where does Abraham Lincoln fit on the value scale … towards the very top.

Now let’s look at the second example.

Adolf Hitler

While Hitler undoubtedly gives a tough competition to Abraham Lincoln in the first two question, it’s the third question where he falters.

History will forever see Adolf Hitler as a murderer.

The third question permanently fixed his place on the value scale – at the very bottom.

If the average human is worth $10 million, Hitler would be worth $0, while Abraham Lincoln would be worth billions or maybe even trillions.

Back to Life Value Equation

So, the first question really is about “Reach”. How many people will think about you when they learn of your death. Will they care? Will they not?

The second question is the sustainability of your legacy. But it heavily depends on your answers to the first and third question. Think Shakespeare, or Voltaire, or Confucius, or even Jesus.

The last question is about impact. How large of an impact have you made, and on how many lives? This is what really ought to be the true definition of success. Number of people that are better off because you lived. Larger the number, greater your success.

While the above three questions are good to calculate “value”, they ought to be re-written for personal assessment.

  1. What impact have I made?
  2. How many people has it directly affected?
  3. How long will the impact be sustainable?

Not everyone has to be the next Rosa Parks, or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Things of lesser impact done consistently over long periods of time also add up to build your life value. Here are some examples:

  • See someone seeking alms on the street corner, buy them a meal.
  • See a parent frustrated over the support their child receives at school, advocate for the parents and the child.
  • Volunteer at shelters
  • Visit senior citizens at nursing homes
  • Help a colleague get through overwhelm
  • Volunteer as an aid for special needs person

My Legacy

As I think about my legacy in life, I wonder what value would I put on it? $10 million? More? Less?

I don’t know. I need to honestly answer the three questions for myself. If I don’t like the answers, I should change some things in my life so in due time, I start liking my answers.

Failing to Prepare

I found this in my archives. Sadly, I do not know who wrote it. Certainly wasn’t me.

After a series of searches, I could not find the poem online. So, no attribution. Let’s just call the author Anonymous. Here it is. Enjoy


If you founded your house on the movable sand,
And have failed to secure a firm hold on the land,
Take advice from the Lord and His biblical tale,
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

If you squander your time on the tricks of the trade,
On discovering just how shortcut is made,
You’ve neglected to work and your skills are but frail.
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

Can you fathom a sailboat alone on the sea,
And the storm and the waves dancing violently?
Like a crew that’s untrained for the tempest and gale,
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

If a cross country runner trains only a stint,
And he practices simply by running a sprint,
He will make it part way down the arduous trail.
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

Any seeds that are sown will not vanish or spoil,
If they’re spread on the tilled and the fertilized soil.
It’s a soil that’s prepared for the seeds in the pail.
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

If you want no excuses, no worries or frets,
If you want peace of mind, ever void of regrets,
Let the wisdom sequester you far from the wail.
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

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