Walls around us!

Something I wrote for a Toastmasters speech a few years back.


I took the first sip of my drink and settled into the chair. The dim light in the room set the mood for the night. Three friends meeting after a long time. It was one of those days when the conversation careened from the totally bizarre to the most thought provoking. That is when my friend stood up and made the announcement. He was going to become a school teacher for the under privileaged children in India. He had it all planned out. The city, the school, the children, the way he is going to fund the operation. Everything to the minutest detail.. We listened in awe until he concluded on a surprising note. He was going to do this 10 years from now.

Greg Mortenson decided to climb the K2 peak in memory of his sister who had recently passed away. On his journey up the mountains a member of his group fell sick and they had to abort the mission. On the way down the peak, Greg lost his way and wandered for days until he reached a village. There, while he was being nursed back to health, he noticed that the children in the village did not have any means of basic education. He promised to return and start a school for them. After initial hiccups to raise sufficient funds Greg setup the first school in northern Pakistan and today his organization runs 78 schools for under privileged children around the world.

Mother Thersea came to Calcutta as a young missionary. As a catholic nun, she had no resources of her own except the clothes on her back. She was not even educated in the local dialect or aware of the local culture. But, she was so moved by the poverty that she witnessed in the streets of Calcutta, that she felt compelled to break away from the norms and build an organization dedicated to a simple principle. She was determined to provide the poorest of the poor the ability to live and die with dignity. Today .Missionaries of charity is one of the most recognized organizations around the world.

Alex was suffering from terminal cancer. One day she had to go into the hospital to get a stem cell transplant. While in the hospital she told he mother that she wanted to help the doctors collect some money to carry out deeper research into cancer treatment. She left the hospital and started by opening a lemonade stand outside her house. That day she collected 2000$. By the time she died, Alex had raised 1 million dollars for cancer research through her Alex Lemonade stand foundation. Alex was eight years old.

I can go on like this about the scores and scores of people who have achieved incrediblethings from seemingly modest backgrounds. But that is for another day. Today I stop here to ponder what is it that makes these people so special? There is only one thing that comes to mind. They got into action as soon as the thought struck them. They did not wait for the stars to align or the perfect time in there life to begin the journey. They did it as soon as they felt enlightened. That my friends is what makes them so special.

Six years ago I had an epiphany. I decided that I wanted to get an MBA. The first thought that came to mind, the 1,20000$ it would cost me. I would also mean 2 years of student life. I decided that I would wait a couple of years to build my resources to do it. Four years later, I revisited that thought. But then I was busy in a startup and could not afford to spend the time to write my exams for it. Six years later I lament that I still do not have that MBA.

Though my MBA goal is not as noble as the one Greg, Mother Teresa or Alex had in their lifes, my point is this. If you do not get down to doing what you want to do today, then you will have a hard time justifying the time to do it tomorrow. Imagine if Mother Theresa had decided that she would wait for a few years to build up the resource to start her mission. Or if Greg decided that his family was more important than starting that school. What if Alex had waited for four more years to start her lemonade stand.

Let me ask some of you a simple question. Do not over think this or dwell on it. What is the one thing that you really want to do in life?

Now think about this, why wont you start working on it today.

As a child we are born with no boundaries to our imagination. Everything is possible in our little minds. As years go by we begin to build walls around us. These walls are built one brick at a time. We soon begin to confine ourselves within these walls because it feels safe and secure in that region of familiarity. The education we got as a child, the job that we have, the family around us, the house we own, the car we drive everything begins to make us feel safe and secure. Then comes a thought to achieve something great. . Alas, there is no space for that journey within the confines of those walls.That is when we think about taking a step beyond those walls and venturing out on a journey of the unknown But in fear of leaving something behind, we put it off for another day.

Today I ask you to stop and take a deep breath. Open those gates and look beyond those walls. The opportunity is there if we are willing to let go of the things that we are holding on to so tightly. If you look carefully, the things we are unwilling to let go are not that precious in the first place. Once we let go and take that first step outside those walls we will realize that the dream we had about a life that we wanted to live was just outside those gates.

As I took the last sip of that drink and heard my friend continue on with his dream, I thought to myself, the possibilities are endless if I am willing.

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