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Geet Sethi
18. The Zone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
19. Demons in the Mind. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
20. Use Stress to Calm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
21. Middle-Class Drive. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
22. Life Can Be Unfair…but Persistence Annihilates Luck
Table of Contents II. SUCCESS vs JOY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
1. Success: The Corruption of Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Copyright . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vi 2. Temptations from Apsaras. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Acknowledgement. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii 3. Success is a Social Concept. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
About the Author. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viii 4. Fame. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
I. JOY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 5. Handling Fame. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
1. The Meaning of My Life is Joy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 6. I Would Rather Do Than Know. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
2. Growing Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 7. Coping with Pressure: Eliminate “If”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
3. The Experience of Joy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 8. Dealing with Basic “Fight-or-Flight” Anxiety ������������������ 41
4. A Deluded World Champion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 9. Visualization. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
5. Rebuilding from the Ground Up. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 10. Knowing the Path vs Walking the Path . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
6. The Joys of the Sweet Spot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 11. There is No Such Thing as Competition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
7. The Mind-Body-Soul Alignment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 12. Playing to Expectations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
8. Pure Action. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 13. “Rising” Away From Your Joy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
9. Your Life’s Passion: The Arena of Pure Action ���������������� 17 14. Golden Handcuffs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
10. Joy and Multiple Intelligences. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 15. Character Flaws Creep In. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
11. Concentration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 16. Life is a Challenge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
12. Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory �������������������� 20 17. The Challenge of Transcending Defeat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
13. The Numb Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 18. The Challenge of Transcending Pain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
14. “Multitasking” Doesn’t Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 19. Meeting the Challenge: Mental Equilibrium ������������������ 55
15. Consistency. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 20. Simplify. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
16. Humility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 21. Harmony with Family. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
17. I’m But an Instrument in God’s Game. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 22. My Journey from Control to Emotion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
23. Kiran’s Path to Joy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
24. Duties. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
25. My Struggle with Joy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
26. Joy!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
Copyright Acknowledgement
Copyright © 2004, 2013, Geet Sethi and Sunil Agarwal. My co-author friend Sunil Agarwal and I spent many hours ex-
ploring my lifelong struggle to rein in the mind. The result of
All rights reserved worldwide.
those conversations has been collected into this book with the
This book was self-published by the authors Geet Sethi and Sunil Agarwal. hope that my experience may serve as a guide to you in your
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any means, own search for joy.
digital or otherwise, without the express permission of the authors.
For permissions contact Sunil Agarwal at

Copy Editor: Matt Stevens

Design: XXX

Success vs Joy contains brief excerpts from the following works:

“The Matrix.” Copyright © 1999, Warner Brothers Pictures.
Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Copyright © 1983, Howard Gardner.

Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons. Copyright © 2006, Howard Gardner.

Vedanta Treatise: The Eternities. Copyright © 2006, Parthasarathy Avula.

All copyrighted material appears under the fair use exception to United
States and other nations’ copyright laws, and under the fair dealing exception
to Canadian and other Commonwealth of Nations copyright laws.


Version e1.0 (2014)
About the Author

Born in India in 1961, billiards legend Geet Sethi, has won nine Dedicated to
world championships and held numerous world records. He is Kiran,
the only cueist in history to have scored a 147 (maximum possi-
ble) break in a snooker match and made a break of 1,000 in com-
petitive billiards. to My Parents
A major sports hero in India, Sethi is a recipient of India’s
highest sporting award, the Khel Ratna for 1993, and both the
Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award in 1986.
Sethi lives in Ahmedabad, India with his wife Kiran, an edu-
cationist and Ted Fellow. They have a son and daughter, Raag
and Jazz.
Currently he is promoting a non-profit venture called
Olympic Gold Quest committed to supporting promising Indian

1. The Meaning of My Life is Joy

For 40 years, I have fought an internal struggle in meditative
silence. This personal combat has taken place almost entirely
around a green baize table in a dark room, the genteel surround-
ings sometimes at odds with my inner self. I’ve engaged in reflec-
tion in an attempt to evolve through a game that appears to have
been destined for me. It’s now time for me to share the thoughts,
sensations, and feelings that made me aware of myself.
This is not a book for athletes. It is for you, who have strug-
gled to find meaning in your life, in your own way, just like I
have through my game.
The meaning of the word “joy” is often misunderstood and
its value easily forgotten, underrated in the speed of today’s
world. I believe I speak from the heart and with conviction, giv-
en that I’ve spent countless hours in complete solitude, trying to
align myself with my natural being.
I now believe that it is the act of staying in the moment that
gives immense, immeasurable joy. To me such joy is the ultimate
and true measure of success. I define the meaning of my life as
being in these moments of joy.
2. Growing Up Success Vs Joy

2. Growing Up 3. The Experience of Joy

As a child, I would spend many hours on my own. I learned to When I first picked up a billiard cue, I was fortunate that no one
enjoy solitude. I remember I was a stoic as a child as well; I rare- was watching. I played, from the start, for the sheer exhilaration
ly revealed my emotions to others. I loved flying kites, playing the game gave me. I had no benchmarks, no pre-conceived stan-
with marbles, and gulli danda, an ancient Indian street game that dards to attain, and no need to impress anyone. Looking back, I
might be the progenitor of baseball and cricket. When I wasn’t was also lucky not to have been an instrument being played by
playing games or swimming, I would read and listen to music. somebody else, not my parents, teachers, cousins, or classmates.
Even today, I’m quite content with myself; I do not have to so- I played for myself and I played for the sheer joy of the moment.
cialize to be happy. Thus, as a kid, I had no great burning desire or ambition. My
My father was in the government service and I was told decision to play billiards was intuitive, not logical. Every time I
that I should “study and always be somewhat above average in would go to the table, I’d tell myself that I simply had to keep on
school.” I was never asked by my parents to be first in my class; improving the benchmarks I set for myself.
and as such, there was no pressure on me to excel academically. I hit the balls as I saw them, time and time again, and then
Fortunately, from the age of 11, I started performing quite some more. I concentrated, not simply on what might have been
well in sports. I took part in the national swimming champion- out of kilter with my technique, but also on what was inherently
ship when I was 12. My father did not mind me playing all day right. I was fortunate that no one kept track of the score, least of
as long as I was a “B” student. all me. At the age of 13, I became hopelessly and utterly addicted
My parents never spoiled me when I was young. I was not to an experience that I could not verbalize at that time. But it cer-
given the kind of pocket money that might have led me astray. tainly didn’t incorporate counting the points as the balls fell into
Even as a child, I learned the virtues of discipline. I would cy- the pockets.
cle 15 kilometers to school, come back home in the evening at Along the way, I discovered the pleasures of concentration.
five o’clock, and 30 minutes later, again cycle for 10 kilometers I played. I experienced joy. There was nothing else on my mind.
to an hour-long swimming session. This was not aimless leisure- Since my childhood, I have been obsessed with the joy my game
ly swimming but a structured coaching course, which involved has given me. I have been addicted to it. I have surrendered to it.
swimming at least 2,000 meters. By the time I returned home, it The game was, and is, a form of meditation for me. When I
would be almost 10 p.m. By then I would be totally exhausted am on the table, I am lost to everything else. There are no distrac-
and would slump into bed quickly to enter the deepest of deep tions; nothing else matters. That is my experience with true joy.
This was my typical schedule for three years. I grew accus-
tomed to such a rigorous routine early in life. I realized much 4. A Deluded World Champion
later how such a routine helped give me strength and willpower.
I grew up believing in myself. I was alone, yet never lonely. As I

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4. A Deluded World Champion Success Vs Joy

grew, I realized I really didn’t need to be with anyone. I did not 5. Rebuilding from the Ground Up
question anybody and I did not want to be questioned. There
was no pressure on me to perform. I wanted to be left to myself. This was a period when my mind became enmeshed with con-
From age 13 to 24, I had no aspirations to become a world fusion over my technique. I realized I had to return to practic-
champion. Nobody in my family was obsessed with anything the ing very, very hard. After six months of non-stop social interac-
way I was with billiards. tion, I went back into my solitude. I began practicing 14 hours a
So, even when I won my first world title, I didn’t really think day. I started to reconstruct my technique almost from scratch,
I’d achieved anything significant. That moment is still a big blur attempting to get my cue action right. I slowly rebuilt my game
for me. after much confusion, frustration, and despair. Those 14 hours of
For almost a year after I first won the world title, I would daily practice were critical.
be regularly invited as the chief guest for various functions, the Slowly, I rediscovered the joy of being happy with what I did
openings of shops and restaurants, and launching products. and with myself. By 1991, I had again achieved the alignment
People would listen to each and every inane remark I would and control in my cue action, and in 1992 I won the world profes-
make on some television show or the other. sional title. For me, what was most important wasn’t the title it-
One day I woke up to the fact that I had acquired a rather self, but the fact that I had been able to reconstruct my technique
high profile. All of a sudden, strangers would stop me on the and rediscover my game. That gave me immense joy.
street to shake my hand. I was signing autographs on aircraft These years that led to my world professional title were a
boarding cards. spell of rediscovery; it was a time when I went back to basics,
It was all so heady that I almost ended up believing I was in- when I once again played for joy.
deed the “Chosen One.” But chosen by whom, chosen for what?
Without realizing it, I had become caught up in an intoxication
that was pretty useless for me most of the time. 6. The Joys of the Sweet Spot
After I captured my second world billiards title, in 1987, I se- Many years later, when I first took up that baffling, yet beguiling,
riously started considering billiards as a profession, as a means Scottish export known as golf, I was practicing down at the driv-
of enhancing my own lifestyle and that of my family. But a year ing range when I struck one particular ball that felt like a feather.
later, just as I decided to make the game my profession, my form That little white sphere became airborne, not with the force of
collapsed. my body, but with a perfect connection of club to ball. Such a
My mind was too focused on the result to be able to concen- connection is the culmination of perfect alignment, rhythm, and
trate on the game. timing and is called the sweet spot.
Fortunately, I realized that I needed to get back to work on An accomplished player in virtually any sport and certainly
the table, because it was only at the table that I truly experienced in any ball sport will have experienced the addiction of the sweet

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7. The Mind-Body-Soul Alignment Success Vs Joy

spot. And it was this sweet spot that I felt as a 13-year-old, after Most of us would like to believe that we are intelligent and
only a few months of exposure to my game. that we appreciate and understand this. Intuitively, most of us
It is not as if I manage to play that perfect stroke all the time. know what is good for us in the long run. But we do not listen to
But I just keep trying. The joy is in the effort of aligning one’s our inner voice because of the distractions around us.
entire being, not the outcome of the stroke. It is in the trying, not We believe we have to control other people or events to be
necessarily in the passing of the test. able to bring equilibrium to our lives. Controlling others is not
what I want to do or enjoy doing. I much prefer concentrating
on that which brings me happiness and joy by keeping my mind,
7. The Mind-Body-Soul Alignment body, and soul in perfect balance and harmony. This is what I
strive to achieve.
The meaning of words often depends on the context in which
they are deployed. You could ask someone the definition of a
word such as “alignment.” The dictionary meaning of “align-
8. Pure Action
ment” would be “in a straight line.” However, for a golfer it
could mean the path that is facing a target. Success is a good thing. Success or failure is a result of our ac-
For me, “alignment” means an individual’s mind, body, and tions. But a focus on the outcome rather than on the action is not
soul working in perfect harmony. This alignment is the basis of pure action.
performance and, most importantly, of finding the true joy that True success is said to be a result of “pure action” by Swami
we all aspire to, the joy that eludes us most of the time. A. Parthasarathy, in his book Vedanta Treatise: The Eternities. He
One of the most important things billiards has taught me is describes “pure action” as action that has three qualities—con-
that it takes an immense amount of self-control and discipline centration, consistency, and humility. Pure action lies in hitting
to keep your mind aligned to your body. It is the same in life. the sweet spot.
We have to keep working toward this goal all our lives, in order When you can achieve pure action, you will experience the
to perfect the harmony in our actions. When the body works in precisely attuned state that I call “joy.” Joy lies in that infinitesi-
harmony with the mind, it provides a winning combination—not mal moment when all thoughts, aspirations, hopes, goals, and
only in a game, but also in the pursuit of joy for the moment. beliefs become non-existent. There is no thought or focus on the
Sounds simple? It’s not. It took me 30 years of non-stop ac- outcome. Joy is that compressed moment in which your inner be-
tion, 10 hours a day of hard and passionate work, to understand ing is in complete harmony with everything.
the importance of being able to align my mind, body, and soul in
rhythm. Notice that I’m not saying that it took this long to under-
stand how to do it; I learned that long ago. It took me that long to 9. Your Life’s Passion: The Arena of Pure Action
groove it as a routine with some level of consistency.
For every person, there is a great passion—an engrossing

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10. Joy and Multiple Intelligences Success Vs Joy

endeavor that best suits you. That passion, whatever it is, is the “flow”), and concluded that it is supplementary to intelligence,
arena where you pursue joy. It is not necessarily a lifelong pas- rather than integral to its functioning. I, myself, consider joy to
sion, as our interests change as we grow. Nor is it necessarily an be an end, and use of intelligence to be the means to that end. I
exclusive passion. Depending on your stage in life, your natu- have my own spiritual beliefs as to what that joy might signify,
ral bent and your circumstances, you might sustain twin pas- but they’re not central to this book. It’s enough that pursuing joy
sions for hiking and your family, or writing and basketball. But brings balance to your life, and that finding it makes you happy.
it needs to engage you down to the core, and be a primary focus If you’re currently looking for your passion, consider each of
for your energies. the eight forms of intelligence, and see which ones “sound like
you.” Then, free associate. Think of pursuits that go with your
types of intelligence. Think back across the years of your life, and
10. Joy and Multiple Intelligences try to remember the moments when action itself made you hap-
py. Not action for someone, not action to attain something—just the
Each of us carries a kit of mental tools for understanding the action alone. There is an instinctive wisdom in the human body
world around us, and acting on what we see. While all of us and mind, where great happiness marks an event deeply in your
have the same basic set of tools, the tools in each individual’s kit psyche. Listen to it.
vary in power and flexibility. This is due to a mixture of learning, In my own case, I was fortunate. I stumbled across my pas-
practice, and genetics. sion when I was young, and never let go. All I can tell you is,
Formally, this concept is known as the theory of multiple in- keep trying different things. Keep learning, and don’t give up.
telligences. First articulated in 1983 by developmental psycholo- Listen to your instincts.
gist Dr. Howard Gardner, it posits the existence of eight forms
of human intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical,
spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and nat-
11. Concentration
uralist. All healthy human brains rely on these eight intelligenc-
es, in various mixes, to interact with the world and with the self. Swami Parthasarathy defines concentration as “the intellect
When you consider the totality of human endeavor summed supervising the mind to remain in the present.” Intellect, as
up in these words, you begin to appreciate the tremendous, excit- Parthasarathy describes it, is the faculty of reasoning or un-
ing scope of joy. Depending on your own makeup, you can find derstanding ourselves objectively. “Mind” relates to a person’s
joy in new abstract thought, pure physical action, or your rela- determination, will, imagination, or memory. Parthasarathy’s
tionships with others. You can find it in mathematics or soccer, “intellect” corresponds to Gardner’s intrapersonal intelligence:
teaching or parenting. “knowledge of the internal aspects of a person: access to one’s
Joy is not, itself, part of the multiple intelligences. Dr. Gardner own feeling life, one’s range of emotions, the capacity to effect
himself has discussed joy (as being “‘at one’ with the world,” or discriminations among these emotions and eventually to label

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12. Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory Success Vs Joy

them and to draw upon them as a means of understanding and momentarily distracted from the present—the irrevocable stroke,
guiding one’s own behavior.” the frame, the match, and of course, the tournament.
The mind has a tendency to run away from the present. It It is remarkable how in one-hundredth of a second a thought
can create an illusionary world of its own. It can fall prey to spe- that enters your mind can take you thousands of miles away—to
cious reasoning. It can be influenced. It brings back thoughts of some other part of the world or even to another planet. The mind
the past or creates anxieties of the future. has to be continuously reined in and supervised so that it does
The mind breaks your concentration and if unsupervised, not run away.
will not let you be in the moment. It would be interesting to analyze frame-wise what must
have gone through Wattana’s mind after his thoughts mean-
dered into that street in Bangkok. At that crucial juncture, his
12. Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory mind was only on the house, which he so deeply wanted to pur-
chase. Though he subsequently missed ball after ball, he still re-
Here’s an amazing story that illustrates concentration and un- mained confident. But he realized that concentration had been
derlines its importance. It is the story of James Wattana, a young surrendered, and he desperately tried to get his mind back from
man from Thailand who uprooted, and traveled to England in Bangkok and into the match arena. Yet the mind has a will of its
1989 to compete on the professional tour, when he was only 18. own, as Wattana discovered to his frustration. Hard as he tried,
Wattana was from a lower middle class family. His mother his mind refused to play ball because the subconscious desire for
managed a snooker club in Bangkok. In his third year in England, that dream house was so dominant.
he reached the semifinals of the Mita World Masters, a snooker Suddenly there was an urgent need for recovering his concen-
tournament in which the first prize was a towering £200,000 (at tration and Wattana ordered his mind to come back to the table.
the time it was the biggest winner’s check in the game’s history). The mind obliged, but not fully; even as he got some concentra-
Despite suffering from a virus, Wattana was doing well tion back, his opponent Jimmy White began to click into his own
against the celebrated Jimmy White in a best of 19-frames match, rhythm and fluency substituted for weakness. Fear overwhelmed
and led 8-6. The audience at the National Exhibition Center in Wattana as he saw his dream house disappearing. Note that the
Birmingham was stunned when Wattana missed a straightfor- key words here are “his dream house.” His mind, almost as if in
ward shot that proved pivotal. He went on to lose 10-8. auto mode, had gone back into the dream house. Earlier, he was
Immediately after the match, in the pressroom, a reporter savoring the moment when he would buy it; now he was fretting
asked Wattana why he had lost after seemingly being in control. over the possible loss of something he never actually owned.
He replied with great candor, “When I led 8-6, my mind wan- Living in the future is professional suicide. Living in the past
dered to a street in Bangkok where there is a house that I want- is sometimes even more dangerous. The past can keep resur-
ed to buy for my mother with the prize money.” His mind was facing. Wattana collapsed completely and lost the closing four

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13. The Numb Mind Success Vs Joy

frames in only 37 minutes; while White went on to beat Malta’s I believe that concentration is binary. You are either concentrating
Tony Drago for the title the following day. or you are not. The mind can focus on only one thing at a time. I
This cautionary tale illustrates the frightening power that the get distracted for five seconds or so every now and then. That is
mind possesses when it stays in the moment and the immense enough for my entire being to be enveloped by that stray thought
self-destruction it can bring by wandering into the future or the and to go off to another place—a fantasy world or a world of
past. insecurity. If I do not consciously keep supervising my mind to
keep stray thoughts from infiltrating, I find that thoughts come
at random, without purpose or warning. So the act of supervis-
13. The Numb Mind ing the mind is a conscious, on-going effort.
As responsibilities towards work, family, or society increase,
Thirteen months later, there was another astounding incident, the mind gets stretched. In such situations, I have to endeavor to
again featuring James Wattana as its central figure. Wattana was distance myself from others so that their concerns and problems
playing in the 1992 British Open in the English town of Derby do not affect me. This carries the risk of making me appear cold
when, on entering the venue, his manager imparted some ter- and unfeeling to some. That is not the case. But I need that dis-
rible news—Wattana’s father had been shot in Bangkok. Wattana tance to completely wipe my mind of everything other than what
did not flinch. He carried on, beat Tony Drago to reach the quar- I wish to concentrate on. To serve others, I must temporarily re-
terfinals, and compiled a maximum break of 147 in the process. move my focus from them to concentrate upon the task.
The same Wattana was now responsible for the highest break
possible in the sport of snooker. A break of 147 is a feat like a
perfect game by a pitcher in baseball, or 10 wickets in an innings
15. Consistency
by a cricket bowler. In the backstage dressing room, after leaving
the arena to a standing ovation, he was told his father had died. Consistency is the second element of pure action. It is built
How did Wattana do it? The only possible explanation I through perseverance and hard work. Consistency means
can offer is that his mind must have become numb. The shock the ability to stick with what you have to, come what may.
completely blanked his mind. He played as if he was a zombie. Consistency is the quality possessed by the great badminton
Whatever state of turmoil his subconscious mind may have been player Prakash Padukone, which made him not want to watch
in, his cue delivery was at its purest. His mind did not waver a movie for six years because it would have interfered with his
even infinitesimally from the present. That is the ultimate power training schedule. Consistency is a fairly simple concept to un-
of concentration. derstand but extremely difficult to apply to one’s life because of
the innumerable diversions and desires thrown our way.
A “consistent” person will understand how to manage the
14. “Multitasking” Doesn’t Work day-to-day distractions that preoccupy most of us—it could be

22 23
16. Humility Success Vs Joy

problems in a relationship with one’s spouse, it could be an is- manufacturing his cue, the table on which he is playing, the balls
sue concerning a child’s education, it could be related to one’s he is hitting, and so on. Then there is the input of his coach. One
health…the list is endless. must also recognize the contribution of parents, spouse, children,
You have to regularly convince yourself that the only impor- and friends who have, often silently, spared no effort in giving
tant thing for the moment is what you wish to do for yourself. the love, the attention, and the sustenance that built the foun-
Nothing else should matter. dation. One can easily ignore these contributions, take them for
This is a mental skill, and like any skill, it can be honed granted, and start believing that excellence is entirely the prod-
through exercise. You can build your mental ability to be consis- uct of one’s own effort.
tent through repeated practice of your chosen craft. Rehearsal of Humility comes from the appreciation that there may have
a well-known action allows you to build your ability to focus, be- been a million circumstances that arranged themselves for your
cause it makes the other variables in your mind stand out. When benefit and enabled you to fulfill your potential. True legends
you can see the distractions, you can learn to let them go. In my realize this, and therefore, play down their achievements. For
own training, once I achieved a certain standard, I acquired con- them, humility is second nature. They learn to respect and accept
fidence in my ability to replicate my actions at that high level. I the fact that forces outside their own selves have, in a major way,
achieved consistency, which in turn reaffirmed my confidence in been responsible for their accomplishments.
Practice honing your technique into a groove.
Practice building confidence. You need it in pressure 17. I’m But an Instrument in God’s Game
Practice gaining understanding. When you understand the The 18th century Austrian musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus
stroke, you understand the game; more importantly, you under- Mozart once said that he felt as if God was playing an instrument
stand yourself. through him.
From a more secular point of view, when I look back, there
have been millions of circumstances and situations that arranged
themselves in an intricate pattern that allowed me to be what
16. Humility
I am. It would have been pointless to try to comprehend all of
The third essential aspect of pure action is humility. It is not as these, let alone to try to manipulate them all as I went. The influ-
if individual effort is unimportant. What is equally, if not more ences on our course through life are far too many to understand,
important is to possess a spirit of humility to realize that you are and the great majority of them are beyond our control. As an in-
not the only one responsible for your accomplishments. dividual with limited powers, the only response that has made
A billiards player, for instance, should acknowledge the sense is for me to humbly accept that I am afloat on a current of
contribution of the person who has spent considerable time life, and that it guides me even while I guide myself.

24 25
18. The Zone Success Vs Joy

This has helped me to understand a fascinating story told experience on three occasions. In this state, I could actually see
by the African-American civil rights activist, the Reverend Dr. myself playing.
Martin Luther King, Jr. King had carefully prepared the text of If one reaches such a level of intense concentration, playing
a very important speech he was supposed to deliver. When he the game becomes absolutely effortless. At such moments I find
spoke, however, what he said was not what he had prepared ear- that I’m able to control the balls with pinpoint precision—liter-
lier with such diligence. His extemporaneous speech moved mil- ally to the last micro-millimeter.
lions. His words, he said later, had come straight from God. I have watched many great athletes enter what may be called
King lived an eventful and passionate life, and focused on “the zone” or “perfect zone”—a phase when they can do no
the goal of liberating a disenfranchised populace. Through him wrong.
passed millions of currents; upon him broke millions more. He When I am in this state of trance, I’m completely unaware of
rode the river of events even as he sought to navigate it, and the world around me. My concentration is at its peak, my game
even to channel it. That he accomplished all these things with- is being played without any flaws, and still, I am in a sense out-
out capsizing—that he sailed well until the moment he died—is side myself.
a testament to his humility and his focus. A trance does not last very long, perhaps for a few seconds,
The river of lives on which King sailed is what some people or at best for a few minutes. In such a state, you feel you are one
call “destiny.” The ability to open himself, in humility, in order to with the universe. You are wide-awake and yet, you cannot seem
channel them through his spirit and into words and deeds, is the to sense that you are breathing.
ability to tap into the force of God.

19. Demons in the Mind

18. The Zone
Exactly what is it that prevents a person from focusing on that
After a high-quality match, particularly the final of a tourna- which he or she wishes to pursue the most? The enemies of fo-
ment, I find myself emotionally drained. I tend to “celebrate” cus are the demons in the mind. These demons are usually self-
with a hot soup and an early night because I find I am emotion- created, and they result in a breakdown of the alignment of one’s
ally, mentally, and physically drained. I remember back in 1993, mind, body, and spirit. It is only after one understands how these
after I won the finals of the world professional championship in demons come into being that one can start the process of pushing
Mumbai, I didn’t even have the energy to stand. All my friends them aside, if not destroying them altogether.
were gathered there to celebrate my victory, but I was exhausted While playing a game such as golf or billiards, a player needs
and slept like a baby. to focus and concentrate on aligning his mind, body, and spirit.
There is another state that players reach. It is much like He cannot let his attention waver. He cannot afford to be dis-
an out-of-body experience, a trance. I have gone through this tracted by extraneous elements. Instead of concentrating on the

26 27
20. Use Stress to Calm Success Vs Joy

stroke, a player could be wondering, “you know my tee-off was shouldn’t applaud yourself for good strokes. Some players like
not very good.” The very thought of anything other than the im- cheering themselves, to divert themselves from stress. I am not
mediate task can manifest itself into a new demon in the mind of among them. If I kept on saying “Come on Geet! Come on Geet!”
the player. while I was playing, I would only end up becoming agitated. I
These demons are negative thoughts that keep recurring. have to be ready for the next stroke, then the next, and then the
They are just disruptive ideas that haunt you. The more you one after that. The secret is to forget the past, including the good
think, the more they will overwhelm you and destroy your con- strokes, and give the present your best. I would rather remain
centration when you need it the most. It is vital to be able to con- calm and concentrate on my technique and enjoy the sweet spot.
trol the thoughts that race through your mind. In sport, the term “killer instinct” is used frequently. For me,
To become a master of your mind, you have to learn the art someone with killer instinct can remain in the present, complete-
and the science of discarding that which is negative, the demon ly oblivious to the state of the match. Yes, there are athletes who
that destroys your alignment, the idea that blocks your path to fo- scream and shout during a match, but that is merely to release
cus and lays waste your concentration in a millionth of a second. tension to soothe the nerves. There is a calm before and after a
In order to exorcise the demons in your head, try to prac- storm. That same principle is true for the mind. To me, “killer
tice how to remove all thoughts from your mind. This cannot be instinct” is another expression for concentration.
done overnight. It is a very long and lonely road that takes years I met Rahul Dravid, a former Indian cricket captain, a few
of practice. Try to habituate yourself in doing this everywhere. weeks after he was first dropped from the Indian cricket team.
You will develop the power to be able to concentrate and focus I was training at the Kanteerva Stadium in Bangalore as part of
on what you really wish to. our preparation for the Asian Games to be held in Bangkok in
As we will see, a very important tool for removing stray 1998. I saw him push himself to the limit. He was working on
thoughts is simplifying your lifestyle. A dissipated lifestyle cre- his physical fitness. His trainer Bidu was throwing a heavy sand-
ates many demons. filled ball the size of a soccer ball at him. Rahul himself was lying
on his stomach and was catching the ball above his head. This
is a difficult enough exercise to do with a cricket ball, but with a
20. Use Stress to Calm heavy ball it becomes almost impossible. Just imagine the impact
on his shoulders.
All of the role models whose stories I tell in this book have one I saw Rahul punish himself like this for almost an hour. He
trait in common—the ability to remain calm in the most stressful later said that he felt the need to work on his upper-body fitness.
situations. They welcome stress, embrace it, and have, over the Every morning he was there, earlier than all the other state-level
years, learned to convert it into serenity. athletes who trained in that stadium. He had no regrets about be-
It may be obvious that, in the moment of play, you shouldn’t ing dropped from the team at the time.
berate yourself for bad strokes. It might be less obvious that you I could only see fine lines of determination etched on his

28 29
21. Middle-Class Drive Success Vs Joy

sweat-laden face—lines that were carved by a burning obsession home. I know in my bones that I would have contrived to get at
to improve his own benchmarks of excellence. that billiards table, one way or another. However, my parents’
He was actually enjoying the hard work, and relishing the achievements smoothed my way. I was born at a time and place
monotony and pain. He sensed there had been a drop in his peak where I had the incentive to climb and a ladder to climb with.
performance and in order to get that back he concentrated on An upcoming athlete must have the fire in his belly to chisel
leading a highly disciplined life. Self-discipline led to calmness, the flab of bad habits out of him. While you can build self-disci-
which became ever-evident in his visage. The calmness on his pline under any circumstances, as a practical matter I benefitted
face had become part of his being and his self. His mind was still. from the balance of circumstances that came from a good mid-
dle-class background. I had more to gain, and less to lose.

21. Middle-Class Drive

22. Life Can Be Unfair…but Persistence
I’m grateful I was brought up in a middle-class household. I be-
lieve that too much luxury during the formative years and the
Annihilates Luck
security of financial comfort can dull the spirit of enterprise. The game has taught me many lessons. One is that Lady Luck
Conversely, some children of well-to-do parents cannot deliver cannot always be with you. It is a stone-cold certainty that your
because of their in-built anxiety to outperform unrealistic bench- luck will run out one day, perhaps when you least expect it.
marks. They equate winning and losing in sports, or their level of Good times and bad are a part of life. Our existence would
academic achievement, to the gain or loss of their so-called social otherwise be pretty boring. It is said that a certain amount of ad-
status. versity is good for everyone. On many occasions, I have missed
I believe that children should not be spoiled by giving in to an easy shot because the ball rolled over some invisible speck
all their desires without them having to work for them. They of dust on the table. Was this a case of bad luck? Should I have
will never struggle enough to go through the pain and value cursed my fate? On the contrary, one should always keep in mind
the pleasures of accomplishment. I believe that character is built the numerous occasions when the same invisible particle of dust
only through intense and incessant discipline and perseverance. might have caused the ball to move in a favorable direction!
Without going through the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears As one achieves higher standards in one’s actions, the ele-
during youth, you cannot hope to build character. ment of luck tends to diminish. If I analyze the millions of shots I
I am aware that growing up in a happy middle-class family, as have played over the last 30 years (over 10 million), I would have
opposed to growing up in an environment of emotional insecu- to acknowledge the fact that my luck has evened out. For every
rity or fighting for survival, conferred certain practical blessings occasion that luck deserted me, there would be an occasion when
on me. I had the luxury of being able to focus on a target, without it came to my aid. What I’m saying is not exaggerated.
having to live with major insecurities, emotional or financial, at The more you commit yourself to action, the less influence

30 31
22. Life Can Be Unfair…but Persistence Annihilates Luck

luck can have. If you act a few times, luck can materially influ-
ence your total experience. If you act a thousand times, you an-
nihilate luck. Only merit remains.
One has to remain stoic in the face of both good luck and bad.
To allow a sliver of bad luck to distract you is to stand in the face
of the principle and definition of concentration. So, learn to ac-
cept the bad times with the good. And remember that the more II. SUCCESS vs JOY
you act, the more you take fortune into your own hands.

1. Success: The Corruption of Joy

The fabric of my life changed in 1992. Winning the professional
world championship (my third world title) made me a public fig-
ure and all that goes with it. There were material rewards as well.
I started wearing a Rolex and got myself a big new car. I start-
ed becoming easily influenced by other people, especially those
who were rich and powerful.
With recognition and riches at the age of 32, came a corrup-
tion in lifestyle. It came insidiously but enveloped me. I started
living my life in terms of measurable results and did not get
exhilarated by joyous feelings. My concentration had been dis-
turbed. With success came distress. My world had changed. The
distractions that inevitably come with fame and success had en-
veloped me. The game was no longer the end but a means to-
ward achieving the end.
The only redeeming factor during that illusionary phase of
my life was the fact that I could still play billiards with utmost
concentration. The moment I put my palm on the table, these dis-
tractions miraculously disappeared.
However, off the table, I was no longer enjoying myself. My

2. Temptations from Apsaras Success Vs Joy

life had become an intricate web of distractions with me firmly succumbing to our own apsaras? How does one achieve mastery
trapped in the middle. These self-destructive distractions ranged over oneself?
from wanting to build a house, to wanting to establish a busi- My ultimate answer lies in what, for lack of a better single
ness, to wanting to make money, and so many other new desires. word, I call obsession. One must have a burning desire to pursue
Everyone around me talked about my success, nobody about the truth and not deviate from one’s chosen path. One must pos-
my enthusiasm for the game. Briefly, I forgot about the joy I had sess a positive attitude that does not dissipate one’s intellectual
experienced from the sport. Once again, I went through a phase and spiritual energy. For me, this happened when I became ad-
of intense soul-searching and redefined my priorities. Soon dicted to the joy I derived from the first ball I hit. All other de-
enough, the answers started to reappear before me. I turned to sires paled in comparison.
the core within myself and again awakened to the joys of living Yet how do you shelter this fire, once you’ve kindled it, from
for the moment. To me this is the only way to be. the apsaras that might quench it? If you are listening and learn-
ing, the passing years bring skill in controlling your mind. At the
same time, they bring new challenges and burdens. They com-
2. Temptations from Apsaras prise illusionary success—the nemesis of joy.

Discipline of the mind is the key to joy. However, distraction

compromises discipline…and life’s distractions are myriad. This
3. Success is a Social Concept
is a truth as old as humanity, and all civilizations have their par-
ables of temptation. Society has its own definitions of success, bruited in the media
There is a famous mythological story about Saint and received, rather than discovered. In that sense, success is a
Vishwamitra, who was always in deep meditation. Lord Indra, very social concept. Therefore, like any fad or fashion, “success”
in order to test how steadfast he was, sent the beautiful heavenly is not an absolute truth. If there were no society, there would be
nymph, or apsara, Menaka, to disturb him. The story goes that no external yardstick to measure who is “successful” and who is
Menaka was successful in distracting Vishwamitra from his aus- not.
terities for a period of three years. The meaning of success, as generally understood by society
If you allow yourself to be distracted, there is every reason today, is the accumulation of status, fame, money, and power.
to believe that your performance will suffer. Just as Vishwamitra Yet, when you take “success” apart, item by item, you discover
allowed himself to be seduced by Menaka, there are distractions that none of these things is anywhere near as good as they are
galore—alcohol, clothes, parties, money, sex, sycophants, travel, purported to be. When you put them together after analyzing
or even a job—–that take one’s mind away from what it is trying them separately, you see that their sum is toxic.
to do. For me, success is a job well done. Success is not about achiev-
How should one guard against these temptations of ing fame, accumulating money, or having power and influence in

34 35
4. Fame Success Vs Joy

society. Success should be personal and have nothing to do with cause. You were committed completely, and persevered in total
what society may think. isolation, and derived true joy from that activity. So suddenly, if
I met a 14-year-old swimmer who said that her ambition was you are the focus of the media and society’s attention, you are
to win the Arjuna award for athletes in India. The reason why she famous. But you have little or no control over that fame. If you
had oriented her life toward this goal, however, had nothing to base your happiness on something over which you have no con-
do with anything that was within herself. She wanted to win be- trol, you make yourself extremely vulnerable.
cause no one from her home state of Gujarat had won the Arjuna Being anonymous, in a sense, ensures that you continue to
award for her sport. I asked her to remove the thought of the experience happiness and joy from pursuing a particular kind of
Arjuna award permanently from her mind. She loves swimming activity. Because nobody knows you, you are quite happy doing
and experiences some sensation of elation and satisfaction when what you are doing for the sheer pleasure it provides—for that
she practices. But at such a young age, the expectations of others moment of joy or sweet spot. Alone on a desert island, you are
had corrupted the girl without her being aware of it. least concerned about what society thinks or about beating your
Billiards has taught me how to retain my mental equilibrium competitor.
under a variety of conditions: when luck is not on my side, when But the moment you achieve a measure of social success, you
I am playing badly and trailing, when I am playing well and become sucked into a vortex of expectations. Your mother will
leading, when I am winning everything, and when I am losing inevitably be proud of your achievements; your relatives will
all the time. And somehow I feel the ability to retain that mental want to place you on a pedestal; your neighbors, your manager,
equanimity is reinforced when one plays and lives for the sweet the public, and so on—everyone would like to carry you on their
spot rather than the money and fame and power. My weakest shoulders. What happens next? Your attention is diverted, your
moments, those situations when I lost my nerve, were at times time is misspent, and you are not mature enough to handle all
when greed took over my entire being and I started playing for the attention you are getting. This is one way in which society
success, rewards, and trophies. first sucks you in, and then devours the so-called successful.

4. Fame 5. Handling Fame

Fame is an experience created by society and the media, who I have often wondered what would happen if a champion were
come together and decide that a particular activity or person is immediately whisked away from the location where he had won
worthy of their interest. Suddenly you are famous. What have a tournament and kept away from media and fans. By denying
you done in this act of becoming famous? You have excelled in a him access to praise, adulation, and sycophancy, I believe he
particular activity. would come back to win over and over again and also remain
You were able to excel because you were committed to a uncorrupted.

36 37
5. Handling Fame Success Vs Joy

If I did not have a single impurity in my mind, I would per- joy. Fame in itself does not bring you joy; it only brings distrac-
haps be able to make a break of 5,000, as against my current tions. I believe the ultimate experience is the joy of making a full
world record of 1,276. Of course, my world is not hermetically effort in reaching out to the core within.
A college student once quizzed me on how it felt to be fa-
mous. I replied, “I experience the same emotions and feelings 6. I Would Rather Do Than Know
that you do. I experience emotions of jealousy, greed, anger, and
calmness just like you. Fame is media-created; and, as I have no We live in an age where information production is exponentiat-
control over it, I don’t pay too much attention to it. I derive true ing. But the more that communications links saturate our lives,
joy from the activity that I pursue and not the media’s attention. the more some people begin to mistake data for understand-
And I know that the media’s attention is focused on me because ing. Think about how much time you spend on absorbing the
of the excellence I have achieved in my discipline. So the impor- thoughts of others. There are news, commentary, social media,
tant thing for me is continuing to pursue excellence and joy in television, radio, poetry, novels, historical and reference works…
my sport.” even this book.
Solitude, for me, has become a state of bliss. At times, I actu- Possession, and demonstrated mastery, of acquired thoughts
ally feel I’m one with the universe. The foundation of my charac- is a mark of society’s “success.” They are taken as signs of lit-
ter has become very deep and strong. I have faith in my abilities eracy, intelligence, and power. Objectively, however, they are not
and in myself. good proxies for understanding.
I am not particularly fond of attending marriages, anniversa- A wise person can direct you toward the path of enlighten-
ries, or other celebratory functions. Even when I do attend such ment and help you understand the wisdom of the Almighty. This
social occasions, I tend to keep to myself. is a noble accomplishment, for both the wise person and yourself
While my behavior is instinctive, I’ve realized that it’s con- as his student. But joy itself can come only from what you actual-
sistent with the pursuit of joy. An extrovert likes talking to many ly do. Truth, in regard to living, must be lived. To learn, therefore,
people about many topics. Such a person’s mind is more likely to you must act.
be cluttered than that of an introvert. While other people might Secondhand truth is thin gruel in comparison. The kind of
successfully strike other balances, my own quiet nature has entertainment that a medium such as television provides is ex-
helped me to withstand the pressures of fame. It has helped me ternal in nature. It cannot be compared to the joy one gets from
to find, and protect, inner peace. actions that you make happen yourself. As my son was growing
There are some who work but remain unsung. Their bench- up, I often told him, “Do not be a passive person receiving too
marks of excellence are not splashed across newspapers; their much entertainment through TV. Try and see less TV, and instead
pictures do not appear on television screens. Be that as it may, do something that will provide entertainment through your own
they are achievers all the same if they are doing what gives them efforts instead of merely receiving it.”

38 39
7. Coping with Pressure: Eliminate “If” Success Vs Joy

In the Information Age, there are many compulsive seekers This, in turn, hampers your ability to concentrate on the pres-
of information. Of course, there are some who have to gather ent. All your well-honed playing techniques will fail miserably
information continuously to effectively fulfill their professional simply because your mind is no longer in control of your body.
responsibilities. But for others, access to information is a source Your intellect is not supervising your body or your brain, because
of power and a certain social currency. The problem is that their it is chasing after the endless permutations of “if.”
bank balance of information and regurgitated opinion may just “If” is not just a menace to your focus in individual tasks. It
provide them status, and not necessarily knowledge or wisdom. erodes your peace of mind when you dwell on “if” across the
The reaction of his peers may make such a person feel proud of broad arc of your life. People tend to repeatedly question the
himself. But pride is not joy. roles they are playing. One could ask, “Was I born to be a lawyer?
Avoiding this pitfall can have its side effects. I often get a Would it have been better if I had taken up journalism instead?”
feeling that my light conversation skills are limited. I am not In my opinion, to dwell upon such hypothetical and speculative
well acquainted with all that is considered newsworthy. I do not questions is a complete waste. Think about it: Can you unwind
avidly pore over all the pages of a newspaper. At social gather- your life to that early stage, and live it again? No. Because that
ings, I often find myself just listening to what others have to say. fork in the road is irrevocably behind you, does it serve any pur-
However, I don’t feel inadequate. I am not defined, either to oth- pose to think of it? No. Once your mind takes flight into the past
ers or myself, by my bank of knowledge. I am defined by what I or future, it cannot remain in the present. Your energy and time
do. are better spent on your challenges in the present.
The best way of relieving this kind of pressure is to tell your-
self that at the end of the day, you have to justify your actions
7. Coping with Pressure: Eliminate “If” only to yourself.
What if you do lose? Having lost many times myself, I can
It is critical to learn to play under pressure. You feel the pres- tell you this: A loss does not mean the end of the world is nigh. In
sure because your thoughts have moved ahead. The word “if” the long run nobody else cares. Just have the discipline and the
is on your mind. You think, “if I get this, then I’m going to win.” commitment to give your best as often as you can. What matters
Alternatively, “what if he gets it and I don’t?” most is your enthusiasm for the game and not the outcome. The
“If” is the most dangerous word in my dictionary. I have very results of the game matter far less than the process of learning. Play
consciously learned to keep it out of my life. It dissipates my en- for the sake of playing and you will feel the pressure evaporate.
ergy, drains me emotionally, and transports me to a forgotten
past or an uncertain future.
Thoughts of “if” cloud your reasoning. “If” creates a cer-
8. Dealing with Basic “Fight-or-Flight”
tain pressure within you. This pressure snowballs into fear and

40 41
9. Visualization Success Vs Joy

While the deeper questions of “if” can aggravate it, there is a the experience that is going to take place in as exact a manner
certain basic level of anxiety before major life-tests that can’t be as possible. Don’t visualize holding up the trophy, instead try to
eliminated. I’m speaking about the adrenaline surge, familiar to recreate your strokes and the control with which you strike the
everyone, that’s built into our bodies to cope with the ancient balls.”
tests of physical combat, and that survives into our age where Most people visualize what might happen in their lives along
civilization poses more subtle challenges. negative lines. Instead of visualizing themselves playing well
Anxiety before a match is a human experience that cannot and enjoying themselves, they think about missing shots and the
be eliminated. I believe that it is good for the system, in that it consequences that could follow. The mind needs one-hundredth
subconsciously strengthens the mind to focus on the job at hand. of a second to lose its focus and concentration.
I just accept anxiety as part of the whole process of playing a So, force yourself to visualize only in terms of executing the
match, without allowing it to take over my whole being. And I perfect stroke. If you do this for ten minutes before going to sleep,
find that as I play the first few strokes, my concentration is so it will work wonders for you. It reinforces your subconscious to
intense I soon forget about the anxiety and every other emotion enjoy yourself while you “play” the next day. And with the focus
that serves to distract me from my game. of joy, your outcome will be far better.
There are many good players who indulge in a quick swig
of alcohol to soothe frayed nerves before or during matches.
Famously, there are athletes throughout the world, in every 10. Knowing the Path vs Walking the Path
sport, who resort to stronger illegal drugs to do the same thing.
Regardless of the substance, this is lethal. Even though it may One of my friends is a serious golfer. His stated goal is to become
control nerves initially, in the long run it destroys the mind. In a scratch player—essentially, to play at a professional level. He
fact, the prolonged use of alcohol, quite apart from any other knows and realizes the effort that he must make to arrive at his
physiological implications, goes on to deaden the brain cells. Of goal. He agrees that in order to further strengthen his game he
course, the psychological and physical dependence fostered by needs to hit 500 balls a day, all alone, and not step on the course
drugs and alcohol are tremendous sources of vulnerability and for now.
confusion. He wants to, but will not.
When I first saw him hit this barrier, I asked myself, “Why?”
Was it lethargy? Lack of courage? Fear of failure? The insecurity
of losing self-esteem?
9. Visualization
I eventually asked my friend what was preventing him from
A very experienced person once taught me visualization. getting to scratch, and he confessed, “I need to practice alone at
He said, “The night before an important game, visualize least one hour every day and I don’t get the time. Sometimes I
yourself making the strokes you want to. Try and live through come to the course straight from a party where I’ve been drinking

42 43
11. There is No Such Thing as Competition Success Vs Joy

the whole night. I want to improve, but there are so many social the only thing.” Billy Shankly, a very successful manager of the
engagements and other things that I just don’t get enough time English soccer team, Liverpool, had his own version— “Football
to practice.” isn’t life or death. It’s much more important than that.”
Here was a 38-year-old who has the talent and interest to im- I disagree.
prove. But, did he want that scratch handicap so badly that he For a performer there is no competitor. In the book of suc-
was prepared to withdraw from social interactions and the tem- cess there is, but not in the book of excellence. Competition exists
porary high of a quick drink? He was looking to me for some only in your mind. Talent and practice can hone your skill, but
advice. the discovery of excellence will come from the discovery of the
I found myself remembering, of all things, the character self. So you have to forget the opponent and delve deep within to
Morpheus from the film, The Matrix. He said, “There’s a differ- master your own frailties and insecurities.
ence between knowing the path, and walking the path.” My In an individual sport such as golf or billiards, it is easier to
friend already knew the answer to his question. The real ques- relate to this, but even in team sport one has to look within. In
tion was, was he willing to walk the path? cricket, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are two athletes who
I told my friend to forget society, friends, and parties. “Give exemplified this introspection. I never heard either talk about
yourself two years. Just focus on the game. If you still don’t reach their opponents. Of course they faced exceptional, solid, and or-
scratch, then go back to your heady life.” dinary bowlers, but they didn’t care who the bowlers were. For
The desire to reach the all-encompassing level of involve- them, the bat was in their hands alone, and what they did with
ment where one benefits from constant moments of joy needs to the ball depended only on them.
be so strong that everything gets thrown into the background. There are some who develop a contrived hatred for their op-
Concentration is built through lifestyle and not through any ponents, believing this will enhance their performance. They
formula or mantra. A person who leads a simple uncluttered life- are merely fooling themselves. The whole game is about finding
style and focuses only on the activity of his interest and his fam- harmony and that elusive alignment of body, mind, and soul.
ily will, in the long run, develop far more concentration than, say, This alignment cannot be discovered with a road map of hate. It
someone who parties every night and who is tempted by food, can only be found with peace within and peace with the world
films, materialism, and any other distraction that may catch his outside.
fancy. There are certain athletes who hype themselves up with ges-
tures, punching the air with fists and other such gesticulations,
which they think will induce a rush of adrenaline. This may
11. There is No Such Thing as Competition prove to be beneficial in highly physical and contact sports such
as rugby and wrestling, but in most sports I find that this be-
Some of us become programmed to think that winning is all-im- comes a distraction rather than a means to help you focus.
portant. As Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t everything; it’s Instead of being hyped up, it is imperative to remain calm,

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12. Playing to Expectations Success Vs Joy

on an emotionally even keel. For that, you need to focus on your spectators, and was weighed down by their collective expecta-
breathing and be zoned-in on the present. tion. It was because he was human and understood his humanity
all too well. His record will not be beaten for a long time and his
feats with the bat will always be remembered, but he would not
12. Playing to Expectations succumb to a billion people imploring him to bear their burden.
I consider Sachin to be a great athlete, not just because of his
After a match, there would always be someone who would ask skills, but also for his ability to withstand the pressure of a billion
me how I missed a simple, straightforward shot. My answer to expectations. When you looked at Sachin, you saw calmness and
this question has been, “Please appreciate the fact that I’m hu- serenity on his face. Where did this serenity come from? Did it
man. I pursue perfection, but I realize that I will never be perfect. come from the knowledge that many millions have great expec-
There is always something more to learn, there is always some tations of him? If Sachin started worrying about what his fans
incident or thought that creeps in and dislodges my concentra- expected every time he walked out to the crease, he would not
tion.” I then counter, “Why don’t you ask me about the 600 shots have displayed the level of equanimity he did. Nor would he
I got right before I goofed up on one?” have performed as brilliantly and as consistently as he did for a
You must realize one thing: however good you get, you will quarter-century.
never be perfect. Also, you can never control the expectations of Take Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar, both legendary cricket-
others. That is why it’s so crucial to disregard these external ex- ers. All the records they have created did not affect them. If they
pectations; and, just as important, to keep yourself completely had succumbed to what others expected of them, I very much
unfettered by your own expectations. doubt they would have been able to play the kind of cricket they
Continuously striving to raise benchmarks does not guaran- did for more than five years or so. To have the ability to disre-
tee that you will not falter. That is why I strongly believe I should gard the expectations of others—shrug them off, if you like—one
not play in order to live up to someone else’s expectations of me. has to first remove all expectations from one’s own mind.
I would go crazy if I did.
Spectators and fans have exceedingly high expectations of
their favorite players. Consider the way in which the perfor-
13. “Rising” Away From Your Joy
mance of the Indian cricket team arouses such intense passion.
Cricket has become a vast entertainment industry. Yet there are a When some people achieve what they originally set out to do,
few players who are mature enough to be able to maintain their their passion begins to diminish. They find their energies dis-
composure in tense situations. sipated because they have to tackle many other issues. For in-
The “god of cricket,” Sachin Tendulkar, may not have per- stance, a senior executive may be asked to follow up on actions
formed well in each and every match he played…but that is not and implement already approved programs, whereas his true
because he was trying to live up to the expectations of a billion joy comes from planning. Or a managing editor in a newspaper

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13. “Rising” Away From Your Joy Success Vs Joy

is unhappy that she is spending all her time in administration To understand why these things happen, we must ask what
and managing people instead of writing—the activity she enjoys makes them happen.
most. Both these people are pushed to lose focus on what gives
them the greatest satisfaction. In the long run, they’re headed for
a burnout. 14. Golden Handcuffs
I have compared notes with many people over 40 who have
been at the pinnacle of their professions, and many have con- Society tends to romanticize hierarchy in organizations rather
fessed they were not exactly enjoying what they were doing. In than the satisfaction that people derive from their work. It re-
fact, some of them were quite miserable. wards conformance, decade upon decade, programming the
A very bright man who became a CEO never really enjoyed whole trajectory of people’s lives. We need to pass school, sit for
his work. An important aspect of his job was to listen to what oth- exams, take up full-time jobs, get married, and raise children.
er people in his organization were saying and also to look at their Somewhere in between we lose touch with what we are really
presentations. He soon realized that his actions could influence passionate about…if we ever have the chance to discover it.
the working of his organization only in a minor way. Eventually, Once we’re embedded in the working world, complete with
he was forced to leave his job. In fact, he was delighted to leave. adult commitments, all too often we find that our immediate en-
He realized that he could do so much elsewhere and no more in vironment confines. That is why our benchmarks get pegged at
his company because of forces beyond his control. rather low levels. They are usually based on standards that have
Despite his creditable academic record, I knew he was just already been set by others, for reasons that have little to do with
not cut out for corporate life. Despite being an extremely good our own needs.
human being he was rather confused about what he wished to If we succeed in navigating the hierarchy, the massive invest-
do. He simply couldn’t identify what would give him maxi- ment we’ve made in that process forges a pair of golden hand-
mum satisfaction. He had studied in the best educational insti- cuffs to our achievement. At great cost, we’ve won a good salary,
tutions and turned out to be skilled in whatever he did. He rose solid benefits, status, and the respect of our peers. What we’ve
in his organization and then started rapidly losing interest in his invested in the effort is matched by the material cost to ourselves
work. He didn’t enjoy working in the company environment but and our families if we were to drop these rewards and try some-
couldn’t find an alternative. thing different. So, we’re successful. And we’re miserable.
All these people were dissatisfied despite the external trap- Here’s an example of a woodcutter. How does he experience
pings of success, because they believed they were not involved joy? It would be when he hits his sweet spot—that is the moment
in the activity which was their core competency or which they when his axe hits the trunk of the tree at the exact angle with the
enjoyed the most. They felt guilty that they were not being true right strength. The way the woodcutter breathes, his physique,
to themselves. and the way his body is aligned have all got to come together in
one perfect, synchronized, effortless motion. He does not have to

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15. Character Flaws Creep In Success Vs Joy

worry about the movement of his arm or his wrist. He is focused At times I’ve lost touch with reality. It is like those company
on the point of contact. bosses who fall victim to complacency and forget where they
Think for a moment what the same woodcutter would do were when they embarked on their career. A CEO might forget
if you were to offer him five times what he is earning to do a the time he worked as a door-to-door salesman twenty years
completely different job for the rest of his life—perhaps laying ago. The mind is indeed a source of wonder. We remember what
bricks. He may take up your offer and be tempted by the en- we choose to remember. Corruption of the mind happens insidi-
hanced lifestyle. Indeed, he may even end up becoming a profi- ously. Assume you have a perfect grip while playing billiards.
cient bricklayer. Instead of all your fingers touching the butt of the cue, one day
If, however, his heart and his soul were not in his new job, he you may suddenly discover that one finger is touching the cue a
would not be able to hit the sweet spot again and again. Ask the little lighter than it should. You may subsequently reach a stage
woodcutter who reluctantly became a bricklayer: “Would you when you are playing with one particular finger not resting on
like to be successful on our terms and conditions, or would you the cue at all. This is how a fault can slowly creep into a play-
like to experience joy on your terms?” er’s technique. You may start believing your technique is correct
His answer should be obvious. But all too often, the inciden- when actually it is not; the bad technique became second nature
tal baubles of success—money, power over others, status—strait- to you because you allowed it to creep in.
jacket people like the woodcutter. The terrible part is that it’s The short point: watch it. Do not let character flaws creep in-
a straitjacket that the woodcutter chooses to wear. Once again, sidiously into your life. You may find that they are there to stay.
knowing the path is not the same as walking the path.
The solution is to continue learning and practicing with the
faith that you will eventually come across something that will re- 16. Life is a Challenge
new your purpose. I have seen this happen again and again, in
sport and in life. The real “I, me, mine” is independent of any- I’m not scared of challenges; in fact, I welcome them. Whenever
body’s expectations—be they of parents, partner, children, col- I have time to sit down and relax, I keep asking myself what is
leagues, or friends. In the long run, you cannot live your life ac- the meaning of my life and other such philosophical questions. I
cording to the expectations of others. Courage is in doing what might not have any real answers, at least at the beginning. But I
you believe is right. And by living your own life with healthy know one thing for sure—whatever it is, I want to go for it and
purpose, you will be able to serve those you love with far more grow. The day we think we know it all, we might as well be dead
energy, and far less strife, than you did before. and gone.
You must possess the ability and wherewithal to criticize
yourself. Only then will you be able to learn from your mistakes
and not repeat them. Accepting the truth about yourself will
15. Character Flaws Creep In

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16. Life is a Challenge Success Vs Joy

compel you to find out who you are and come to terms with your spouse starts believing and treating you differently because of
frailties. your achievements, will be the day when you will come to your
It is very easy not to accept one’s own faults. We are invari- professional end. Because then you may actually start believing
ably biased towards ourselves and find it tough to acknowledge that you are “special.”
our faults and limitations. The first step is to recognize the fact If you keep challenging yourself, within and without, your
that you are not perfect, but a human being with limitations. life will remain a source of joy.
Only those with strength of character are able to listen to their
conscience, their inner voice, and then act accordingly. I define
character as the courage of conviction to be your own self. 17. The Challenge of Transcending Defeat
I have learned to accept what others say about me with an
open mind. Not everyone who is critical of you is necessarily There are those who cannot stomach defeat; they get demoral-
your opponent. Many are critical because they want you to re- ized easily. There’s a wonderful kid from Ahmedabad who took
move your shortcomings. And we would not be able to improve to billiards after he saw me play. He was so obsessed with the
ourselves if we were not able to recognize our limitations. sport that he dropped out of school when he was in the tenth
Let’s say you’re addressing a thousand-strong audience on a grade so that he could concentrate on improving his game. He
subject dear to your heart. Slowly you see 999 people walk away, fell madly in love with the game and would spend ten hours a
with just a solitary man left sitting and listening to you. Most day working on his technique. There was a time when I got high-
people would be dejected and depressed. But that is because ly inspired just watching the intensity of his spirit. This kid was a
there is no mental equilibrium. Anger, depression, and agitation natural and picked up the nuances of the game quickly. Everyone
are manifestations of the ego. A trained mind will finish and en- predicted he was destined to become a world champion. But he
joy the oration with that audience of one. had an attitudinal problem. He just could not cope with the fact
If I were the speaker, I then would go back home and do some that he could lose.
serious introspection on why 999 people walked away. That’s a He had been placed on a pedestal, not only by his friends,
moment of truth. Rather than become agitated, I would accept but also by his family. When those close to you start believing
that perhaps I was adding little value. I would then do some- that you are special, you start thinking that you are “the Chosen
thing constructive about it, even if it took months or years of labor. One.” That is mental suicide. This happened in his case, and
Take it from an introvert who now does motivational speaking he just collapsed under the weight of his own and his family’s
throughout India—this works. expectations. In his very first year on the professional snooker
If you are a celebrity, the public may treat you as someone circuit, he reached a creditable 160th in the official world rank-
“special.” You are not; no one is. Even if you’re “successful”— ings. His second year turned out to be disastrous. He lost his first
especially if you’re “successful”—it’s crucial that you encourage, match. And when he fell at that first hurdle, his dreams and ex-
and accept, honesty from those closest to you. The day your own pectations were shattered and he gave up playing.

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18. The Challenge of Transcending Pain Success Vs Joy

To persevere, you must focus your mind on the game—not pain in the left part of my head and my intellect was trying to ig-
the results. It is fine to be ambitious. But the nobility is in the nore the pain. My mind attempted many tricks to divert itself and
playing. not feel the pain, but after 50 minutes it gave up and succumbed
If you want social status through a game, or any other life en- completely. I did not move my body or uncross my limbs, but my
deavor, you will certainly be disappointed. The world does not head drooped as I suffered the last 10 minutes with pain the only
really care whether you lose or win. sensation in my entire being.
There is liberation in that truth: The world does not care if you
lose. You play, you work, you grow for yourself. If you stumble,
it does not matter. If you fall entirely and plow your face into the 19. Meeting the Challenge: Mental
dirt, so what? You’ve just learned how to keep standing up. Equilibrium
You live for yourself and the joy that life gives you. Nothing
else. That evening S.N. Goenka, who conducts these courses through
audio and video discourses, told us about mental equilibrium.
That, he said, is the one trait that enables us to maintain our
18. The Challenge of Transcending Pain cool. When we are angry or ecstatic, we tend to lose our mental
In 2004, I started to explore Vipassana, as a way to purge my Mental equilibrium allows us to dispassionately view the
mind of clutter and rediscover the joy of living in the moment. events around and within us. Goenka asked us not to become
Vipassana is a very effective meditation technique, which was paranoid about the pain. He inspired us to believe that all events
created by Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) some 2400 years are temporary and that this pain is also temporary. He asked us
ago. It is a time to go inward, to rediscover the joy of the connect to focus on the pain. We were to just observe it and be detached
with the self, and to reinforce the worthlessness of petty anxiet- from it. And, most important, we were to let our mind be in con-
ies, insecurities, and feelings of envy. These realizations are the trol of the pain.
stuff of enlightenment. It was sound advice and the second time I sat for the
The first course involved remaining silent for eleven days. athistan—sitting without moving—I managed it effortlessly. I sat
This included no visual or physical contact with anybody. continuously for an hour and 20 minutes. The pain was acute,
On the third day we were asked to sit in one posture for one but my mind was sharp and was viewing it dispassionately.
hour without moving our limbs. Whichever posture was cho- After one hour, the pain almost disappeared. Mental equilibrium
sen, there was an intense pain in many parts of the body after had allowed me to be dispassionate to the intense pain.
35 minutes. The last 10 minutes of the hour were particularly This lesson, learned under controlled circumstances, has
excruciating. much bigger implications for how we approach the rough-and-
The first time I tried this, I found that there was an intense tumble of life. I believe the one quality that we need at a crucial

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20. Simplify Success Vs Joy

point of a match is this mental equilibrium. We cannot allow the considerations from my mind when I act. Yet it is not a para-
event to dominate our mind. We must be dispassionate. dox that all of this rests on the love and support of my family.
What you can achieve alone, you achieve much more easily with
help. When you work to sustain joy in the teeth of all the world’s
20. Simplify apsaras, your family fights at your side.
Your relationship with your family is something you build
Genuinely successful people understand the meaning of disci- and maintain. It, too, can benefit from the principles that you ap-
pline and of total commitment to a single cause. This discipline, ply to your own quest for joy. Concentration, consistency, and
by definition, necessitates a simplified lifestyle. This is the key to humility are crucial in your relationship with your family. So,
improving concentration. too, is a zest to learn and grow.
You can get an idea of the power of simplified life by seeing Consider concentration. I like to pay full attention to what I
what happens when you simplify radically. The badminton All am doing at any given moment. There are bound to be interrup-
England champion, Prakash Padukone, once told me that for six tions; the telephone will ring and so on. But if I am going to give
years he did not watch a single movie while he was undergoing my best, I must try to not allow others to distract me. If my wife,
a rigorous training regime. He would wake up at 5:30 a.m., go for Kiran, calls while I am in a meeting, I simply tell her that I will
a 10-kilometer run, return home for breakfast, exercise, and then call her back. If I start talking to her, I would be rude and unfair
play two-and-a-half hours of badminton, come back at noon and to both her and those present at the meeting, because my concen-
sleep for two hours. He would then wake up at 2:30 in the after- tration would be interrupted. I would be absent to everyone.
noon, exercise till 3:00, play badminton between 4:00 and 7:00, do While I was playing in the Sydney World Championship in
some cooling-down exercises, return home at 7:30, have his din- 2002, I received a telephone call from my wife that my father
ner and go to bed by 8:30. He maintained this incredibly disci- had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and had been
plined lifestyle for six years without a break, seven days a week! placed on a respirator. I asked my wife whether I should return
The world sees him as an individual who has made many to India immediately, but she told me I should continue to play in
sacrifices. Ask him and he would insist there was no sacrifice at the tournament and come back only after the event was over. By
the time—only joy! There is joy in any activity that leads to per- my yardsticks, I played brilliantly during the tournament even
sonal growth and excellence. The process of growth and learning though I eventually lost in the final to Mike Russell. I was able to
is the basis of joy. Where there is joy, there is no sacrifice. concentrate on my game despite the unexpected and unwelcome
news about my father. I then returned and was able to concen-
trate fully on my father.
21. Harmony with Family The role of your family in keeping you calm is crucial. I have
I’ve been speaking of the pleasure that I find in solitude, and been married to Kiran for a quarter-century now, and her sup-
the great importance that I place upon removing all outside port and faith have been immeasurable. Before a tournament she

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22. My Journey from Control to Emotion Success Vs Joy

always makes a special effort to remain calm and supportive. If rigorous practice that marked my billiards game from my earli-
there has been a crisis at home, she will not tell me about what est days.
has happened until my tournament is over. These are among the As I moved into my forties, I was growing into my role as a
many ways she has adjusted and helped. father. Today, in retrospect, I realize that I had been suppressing
Above all, Kiran has never prevented me from fulfilling my some of my deeper emotions as part of my self-discipline. My
professional commitments, irrespective of any alarming situation children brought them to the forefront, in an unexpectedly good
that she may be facing. She knows how much joy I derive from and powerful way. They, themselves, were powerful correctives
sport and what it means to me. Even though she might well want to success. Like many people, I found it all too easy to consid-
me to be present on her birthday, she would never dream of pre- er the daily hassles of living “important.” But then my daugh-
venting me from touring or participating in a tournament that ter would hug me tightly at the end of a long day, and my son
clashes with the date. would greet me with a wide smile. With the simple truth of love,
This is not to say that the role of a partner is pure sacrifice, or they refocused me.
merely to serve as a buffer. These events have stuck in my mind Following this steady growth, in 2006, my father died.
precisely because they are extraordinary. I realized then that something was missing in my life. I didn’t
The point is that in a sound relationship, the partners con- know quite what, nor did I know how to find it. I sensed, instinc-
stantly and consciously work to strike a balance between their tively, that the ongoing push for perfection at the billiard table
individual and mutual needs. I was fortunate to establish a mu- might be interfering with my growth in other ways.
tual understanding with Kiran from the very beginning. Athletes So, I decided to take the radical step of ceasing practice, and
who have established a good, meaningful, and deep relationship of cutting back my tournament schedule. As I expected, my
with their partners perform better as a result. game gradually declined. In my seventh year without practice, I
If you have achieved a sound family relationship, this begins withdrew from play altogether. Yet all this was balanced by rich
a self-reinforcing spiral. Joy with the family leads to a greater experiences in my family.
commitment to joy at work. In turn, deriving joy from what you When I pulled back on my involvement in billiards, I thought
do actually renews your energy to be able to deal with the issues of my reasons in concrete terms: that “there must be more to
at home. life,” and that I also should acquire more and broader knowl-
edge. Over the years, with more maturity, I realized that I was
driven by the need to integrate emotion into my life. That meant
22. My Journey from Control to Emotion integrating my life more closely with that of my family…and I
have become a better man for it.
No healthy relationship remains static, and my own relationship After seven years, with my children attaining adulthood,
with Kiran and our children is no exception. In fact, it was a ma- I started training again. At this writing, in my early fifties, my
jor reason why I decided to pull back from competition and the

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23. Kiran’s Path to Joy Success Vs Joy

form feels good. On a deeper level, I feel good. I am able to touch correspondence with Kiran has helped nurture some of the in-
pure joy. sights that I’ve shared in this book.

23. Kiran’s Path to Joy 24. Duties

A pleasant irony of our life together is that, as I pulled back from You may at times be compelled to do something that you don’t
my passion to grow into my family, it was our family that pro- enjoy. The call of duty may take precedence over all other
pelled my wife Kiran into an entirely new and powerful pursuit considerations.
of joy. After reading this far, you won’t be surprised to hear that
We were dissatisfied with the quality of our children’s school. I’m not wired to enjoy delivering speeches or attending cultural
Kiran, with the drive that I admire so much, decided that she programs. Nevertheless, I may have to do precisely what makes
would homeschool them. That was a great departure for some- me uncomfortable, in order to support a larger cause—in other
one who had built her career in interior design. Working from words, playing the role of an ambassador for the game of bil-
home, she taught our two children. liards. Given that the game has provided so much joy in my life,
Then, she partnered with a group of similarly-minded par- I should be willing to sacrifice some of my pleasure for the game.
ents to start an entirely new school. This new field fascinated There is an obvious parallel in the very structure of a billiards
her. She went back to college, and then graduate school, to gain a match. During a match, you have to sit out when you miss and
formal background in education. As she progressed, she succes- your opponent is on the table. You cannot say “Since I am not
sively taught each grade level at her new school. enjoying myself, I am leaving.” You have to continue sitting out
As Kiran became fired up about education, it became a pas- patiently and not let your mind become agitated.
sion for her in the same way that billiards has been a passion for Duty is not just a thing to be endured. It can be its own op-
me since our earliest days together. The details and mechanics of portunity for growth. When I worked in the corporate sector, I
her pursuit of joy are different, but the pure action and sensation would sometimes have to sit through two-hour-long meetings. I
are the same. We now understand each other better, and are able would be bored stiff but could not just get up from my seat. I did
to support each other in our efforts with less angst, because we not have a choice. The best I could do in such situations was to
both know the pursuit and the taste of joy. try to understand what others were saying. This, of course, was
With her graduate research, Kiran came into contact with precisely what I was supposed to be doing.
new and powerful ideas that have shaped my own understand- I often tell myself that it is a real challenge to find something
ing of the mind, and of how we all seek fulfillment. They include new to learn from even an ordinary, routine situation. Even in
the multiple intelligences theory of Dr. Howard Gardner, whose trying situations I try not to let my mind wander. I have, in the
past, dabbled in three or four things together, but not found joy. I

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25. My Struggle with Joy Success Vs Joy

now believe in focusing on one activity at a time…even if that ac- will create its own success. Seek joy and success will naturally fol-
tivity is not inherently exciting to me. To focus on duty is a more low. I have learned that when I wanted success and was willing
subtle form of experimentation, of the exploration and search to sacrifice joy for it, I eventually got neither. Clearing my mind,
deep inside for joy. focusing my will, and opening myself to joy…these brought me
everything that is valuable in life.
Joy is internal—success is a creation of society. You always
25. My Struggle with Joy have a choice.

Like any other healthy person, I try to examine myself objective-

ly. While this book is the fruit of self-examination, I owe it to you
to share my own doubts. Like most people, from time to time I
wonder: “Am I fooling myself?”
At times, there is a sense of guilt. Am I too selfish? Am I anti-
social, unconcerned about others? Do I only take and give noth-
ing in return? Have I cocooned myself and built an invisible wall
around myself? Do I live in a world of illusion where I have shut
out all that I do not like, all that I consider sad, disagreeable, and
I seek the answers faithfully, but I don’t claim to know them.
This book is a snapshot of one person, in the middle of his life. It
is a hard-won, carefully-considered body of advice. I firmly be-
lieve, and fervently hope, that it is wisdom.

26. Joy!
My lifetime has been a dance with joy. In my youth, I embraced
it; in my adulthood, I rediscovered it; now, in middle age, I de-
fend it. As I grow older, and hopefully wiser, I learn that there are
more paths to joy, as well as more paths away from it.
Which comes first, success or joy? Many believe that once
they succeed, they will be happy. But success, as commonly un-
derstood, is in no way linked to happiness. Commitment to joy

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