You see that elephant on the branch ? That’s me . With a instagram handle motuandco(motu and co) created with my friend – I was the certified elephant on social media too
As nursery kids when we were asked the question – which animal do you want to be , kids would eagerly shout back , lion tiger , deer , rabbit etc etc At the very end of the line when everyone was silent , I would mumble elephant -and the class would burst into peals of laughter .
The teacher asked kindly– “why do you want to be an elephant , beta ?” and I said shyly – because they are the most intelligent and patient species with a huge memory . And since my father was making me learn the Bhagvadgita then – I needed that memory. Imagine the amount of mental RAM needed for 700 shlokas and that too in a 5 year old kid ! And come on , you cant deny elephants look the cutest , most cuddly and loving animals .So , I was really surprised people didnt want to be elephants!
I was a sickly kid , thin like a reed and wanting to be an elephant , not knowing that one day Nature would grant this stupid wish when I least wanted it
Till the time I was married off – I was slim and trim by all social definitions – not that I followed any fitness regimen. Infact I just hated exercising or dieting but I just was blessed with being slim. When my son was born – again I was slim – but I had developed a ravenous appetite ( or should I call it elephantine appetite ?) and used to finish packets of Bourbon biscuits ( aah the delicious cream between those chocolate wafers …….just yumm!) whilst feeding my son . They were my best companion on long nights when my son and his antics kept me awake .
Laddoos – both the motichoor variety and the healthier atta and besan laddoos – crisp, sugary ,laden with ghee and with an oh so divine taste -were encouraged given that I was lactating and therefore supposedly eating for two . Unfortunately , the supposed second eater did not eat 😊 . What a betrayal that was !
Very soon I looked like a khate peete ghar ki bahu . So, when my old relatives met me they said lovingly– “ badi healthy lag rahi hai !” For Punjabis – I guess only fat people are healthy! I thought this part of health will magically disappear once I join back work but that just remained a distant dream. I remained “healthy” and then started showing signs of the blessings of khaata peeta ghar – ie laziness , fatigue , backache all due to the weight which had jumped from 48 to 78kgs .
I knew I had to lose weight and get active so the nerd in me decided to read up all there was to read on nutrition and weight loss . Heck my sister in law was a dietitian but as they say ghar ki murgi daal barabar ( the resident expertise available isn’t valued). So I read all possible sources of knowledge and very soon became an authority on all kinds of diets – Atkinson diet , South Beach diet , Keto diet , lemon shot diet , paleo diet ,macrobiotic diet …..well the list is endless . I read and retained like an elephant but didn’t move – again like an elephant . The inaction was just killing me . I didn’t fit into anything from my wardrobe , I didn’t have the energy to play with my young kids , I couldn’t trek and heck I could no longer see myself in the mirror as it was an elephant staring back! Childhood wish granted!
Even when I gathered the resolve and tried, procrastination and resistance became my worst enemies – I will do it tomorrow – let me cheat today , I shall follow the plan from tomorrow . Let me rest today , I am tired – and I will exercise tomorrow and felt quite like an elephant nicely lazing around in a pool. I had all the knowledge but I couldn’t implement even a single bit .
Finally ,one day I joined a gym and got a personal trainer – like an elephant gets a mahout(trainer) – and that’s the day this wild elephant ie yours truly got tamed . The trainer would challenge me , dare me and push me . The rush of chasing and winning ,of triumphing a tough set of squats or lunges or pushups – was a high like no other . My legs would ache terribly and yet I would be pushing though to get that high.
No wonder elephants and infact no other species is as irrational as human beings – going on – despite the cramps and the aches .
I learnt – the comfort of procrastination is laden with guilt . A guilt that destroys our self worth and self confidence slowly but surely . I read and re read about the one percent rule . A one percent improvement everyday totally transforms you , a 1% decline everyday plunges you to the depth of despair in no time . Compounding is a bitch and unfortunately it happens on both (positive and negative ) sides . It had been happening on the wrong side for me so far.
From the know-all , see all perspective of the elephant on the branch- despite knowing everything – I couldn’t effect any action – but once I took consistent action – my animagus changed from elephant to a doe ( Harry Potter fans…..remember anyone ?) and I was pretty kicked about it too . Discipline about eating came on its own and the cravings for laddoos , jalebis and pizza subsided . I figured procrastinating about ordering jalebi might be a good idea infact .
I learnt a thing or two about procrastination and its impact at work too.
Corporates are also like elephants – slow to move and decide and StartUps are projected as nimble , agile and fast – exactly because of the slow speed of decision making and inaction in large organizations . The inaction is triggered by the paralysis of analysis – where leaders just keep going deeper into data and information without taking any action– which is nothing but a brilliant strategy of our procrastinating mind – and which pushes us towards risk aversion and fail safe actions and sometimes no action whatsoever .
That’s why a “Bias for Action” has been embedded as a key success value and operational leadership standard in my company . The leadership encourages action over endless debates and forgiveness over endless permission and approval seeking . Action ,isn’t about reckless experimentation, however, I learnt or in other words it isn’t about shoot first and ask questions later but its about acting fast with the necessary knowledge and not waiting ad infinitum for more information. Its about taking calculated risks and experimenting thereby breaking the first resistance barrier.
In anycase I think the most valuable lesson for me was the exorbitant yet hidden price of procrastination . It may appear harmless and may give you a fuzzy feeling but it vanquishes your soul. Swami ji too has written so much on conquering resistance and endorsed the Nike tagline of “ Just do it” But getting started is one thing and keeping the mental elephant dancing everyday with rigor and consistency is quite another .
But for now the elephant in me has transformed into a wise old sage – but one that’s biased towards action . Very soon I plan to make it into a meditating elephant . Hathi baba will be back soon ! stay tuned for more .
Pic credit : Inspiration from the editorial by Medhashri ji. Sourced from Google