Monday, June 19, 2017

Noise within

A marketing executive, from Vasco, visited Pedro to promote his company’s range of products. He received a call from his boss. The visitor seemed irritated as he spoke on his mobile , ‘I am in Margao’ he declared. Pedro was surprised as they were sitting in his office in Panaji. It was pertinent to note that the three cities were separated from each other by nearly an hour’s drive.

Intrigued, Pedro queried, ‘Why did you lie?’ The salesman replied, ‘If I had told my boss that I was in Panaji, he would have definitely asked me to get some toast from CafĂ© Central’. Pedro shot back, ‘What if he asks you to get some cookies from Morning Star Bakery located in Margao?’ And he continued, ‘what if your boss is in Panaji and bumps into you?’ The salesman broke into cold sweat.

The salesman did not imagine other possibilities as he was conditioned by the noise within. The noise within kept insisting that his boss would ask him to purchase toast if he knew that he was in Panaji. In his haste to escape his imagined predicament, he was putting himself into worse scenarios that come along with misrepresentation.

So often, we respond to stimuli based on perception and we resort to falsehood. Our assessment is affected by our previous experiences. We presume the worst based on such prejudice. Most lies are born of the noise within which keeps bearing upon us the burden of experience or that of wrong assessment.

While experience is a great teacher, it should not blind us to other possibilities that may exist. More importantly, deceptions are a two edged sword with the sharper knife on the side of the deceiver. Truth may bring hardships but it would not create worries that falsehood brings along. The noise within should be consistently aligned to integrity, not to wrong assessment, especially the ones based on experience.

Ignore the noise within that leads to untruths
Every stimulus needs the response of truth!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, June 12, 2017

Thousand Times

In my training sessions, I share that martial arts films have similar stories. The protagonist is a simple, nice guy. And the antagonist is an expert in martial arts. In the fight between the good and the bad, the bad one wins as he is stronger and skilled. Hence the hero goes to a master to learn self-defence and attack.

He is exasperated when the master teaches him only a single move and insists that he practise it again and again. The hero pleads with his master, ‘Please teach me more moves’. The wise master replies, ‘it is not the thousand moves that you know that will help you… it is the one move you have practised a thousand times!’

We see it all around us. Singers and musicians involve in the ritual of riyaz! Batsmen practise the same stroke that they want to become better at. Bowlers strive to bowl the yorker again and again, in the nets. Novice artists keep drawing the same strokes till they become proficient. Actors keep repeating lines till they are flawless.

Of course, it is not just enough to do something a thousand times; one must do it the right way. Pedro says is you keep practising the wrong way; you will get it perfectly wrong! The constant and conscious drill of doing the right thing in the right way gets us to be better and better.

So should we restrict to only single moves? While it is good to know many moves, the ones that matter will be ones you have done many times! Interestingly, in every sphere, the fundamental moves are few and the rest are variations. So it makes sense to work a thousand times on the fundamentals.

Never mind thousand moves that you claim to know
Those done a thousand times are the ones to show!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, June 5, 2017


Once in a nature camp, I spoke on the tendency to abuse water as a resource. Drinking water was going to get scarce, due to destruction of water sources by indiscriminate development. A bright boy pointed, ‘With technological developments, one day it will be possible to treat sea water and convert into drinking water’. He felt that it was possible to find new solutions to problems created by development.

After appreciating the lad for his intelligent intervention, I said, ‘The Jaipur foot is an important technological development for those who lose their limbs. But would it be correct to amputate our healthy limbs just because we have a remedy? Does it make sense to scout solutions for problems we insist on creating?’

Development is a connotation that means different things to different people. It can be as personal as our self-centredness or as global as wider concerns. It can be conditioned by immediate needs or liberated by a desire to leave a legacy. It should be a corollary to the advancement of humanity. It can be about a better future not just for us but for the generations to come.

Embracing fundamentals based on a vision of equity, justice and self-reliance, for the entire humankind, should be the priority. Development cannot be walking the path to the future whilst destroying the present. And most importantly, it is about having the courage to leave the wrong road and walk only the one which benefits all the people and the environment around, not just of today, but of tomorrow as well.

Creating problems and finding solutions is a recipe for erosion…
Development is when our Earth is nurtured for future generations!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, May 29, 2017


Last Monday, six books of plays written by Suchita Narvekar were published. The books are scripts of successful plays that have completed many shows. Speaking on the occasion, she mentioned that an acquaintance remarked, ‘Six books? You wrote six books? You must be having a lot of time at your disposal.’

It is pertinent to note that Suchita is a player of many parts: an enterprising entrepreneur, a passionate theatre person, a popular jockey on radio, a responsive and socially conscious citizen and a super active person. Obviously she has her plate full! Yet she was able to find the time to write and publish her plays.

Time is a resource that is equally available to everyone. Yet some like Suchita can find the time to do many activities while others seem to repeat the refrain, ‘I have no time!’ Pedro says that every time we declare that we don’t have time, it means that we don’t how to or we don’t want to. While the former is about time management skills, the latter reflects the resistance coming from our attitude.

If we all have the same hours to the day, everyone is equally advantaged to do the things we want. Hence the cue lies in the desire to do things. Hence, persons like Suchita find the time to do many diverse things as they are driven by a passion to do those things. And if we do all the things we like, we lead fuller lives. Eventually it is the busy who can find time because they are motivated to do so!

Fill up life with purposes born of passion
Find the time to involve in many actions!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, May 22, 2017

Cheerful Choice

Facial expressions are a response to a stimulus. They are signals of emotion and social intent as a reaction to a situation or event or an individual or even a thought. However there are times when this choice is sans stimulus. This is reflected in what I like to call the neutral expression.

The neutral expression is one you wear without any stimulus, not even thought. It is the visual that others notice when you are by yourself. You could be walking, waiting or watching, all without knowing that you are being observed. It is the face that a candid camera would capture.

Some wear a blank expression, some have a persistent frown, some seem gloomy, some seem tired, some seem seething... but there are ones who seem perpetually pleased. Their eyes are alight with bliss. The smile curve is never reversed without reason. Being with such persons is a boon as their cheer is infectious.

Being cheerful cannot be a single choice of wearing a beaming expression. We need the internal trigger of positivity. We must be at peace with disappointments and doubts. We must look forward with hope. We must let go of hate and vengefulness. We must unlearn conditioning that introduces negativity in our attitude.

We cannot choose our situation at all times. We cannot choose results to our efforts. We cannot choose reactions of others. But we can choose positive thinking… of belief and hope… never mind the stimulus or the absence of it. Our neutral expression can be sunny even when we face darkness born of fatigue or failure… we will be enthused and energized… and so will others who see us!

Never mind the stimulus or the lack of it…
The choice to be cheerful is worth every bit!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, May 15, 2017


Yesterday, my facebook friend Pramod Kudchadkar passed away after losing out the battle with illness. His eyes (cornea) were donated along with his body to be useful to someone else. The cornea will help two persons have their sight restored and the body will aid many directly and indirectly. Truly an act of altruism by the one who pledged and the family who honoured that pledge!

The word ‘altruism’ was devised by French philosopher Auguste Comte in French, as altruisme, as an antonym of the word ‘egoism’. He derived it from the Italian altrui, which in turn was derived from Latin alteri, meaning ‘other people’ or ‘somebody else’. It is about selflessness as a practice born of the concern for others.

Altruism is when an individual performs an action at a cost to himself but it benefits another individual, sans any expectation of reciprocity or compensation for that action. It is pertinent to note that altruism is different from sentiments of obligation which are predicated by relationships. Altruism is beyond relationships and hence it benefits others.

This world will be a better place if more and more of us choose acts of altruism. This ethical creed insists that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others. Besides other ways of helping others sans any expectation, it includes donation of blood while alive and pledging of eyes, organs to be donated after death. Like Pramod let’s choose to be useful to ones who we don’t know, even when we are no more!

Death cannot deter true benefit to others…
If altruism is chosen over burial or embers!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, May 8, 2017

Precious Gift

A wandering woman found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller and she opened her bag to share her food. He saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveller left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

However, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. ‘I've been thinking,’ he said. ‘I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone.’

Sharing could involve collective use or outright gifting of one’s possession. We find it easier to share joint use, but find internal resistance if asked to part with valuables… be they resources, knowledge or skills. So often, for most of us, sharing is a comparative and reflexive activity. We give gifts to only those who give us gifts.

We are seized by insecurities towards our possessions. Consider knowledge for instance. Those who readily gift knowledge to the others are more worthy than the greatest of scholars who refuse to share their knowledge. In my occupation, the most admired trainers are not the ones who are the best at what they do; but ones who have ‘nurtured’ other trainers.

The ability to gift without any preconditions of transaction leads to a great treasure. By letting go, we liberate ourselves. By sharing, we enhance our relationship with the other person. By gifting, we empower our attitude and abilities. Such an attitude of unconditional sharing is the most precious gift that we can possess.

let go of the insecurities of possession
precious is the gift born of liberation!

~ Pravin Sabnis