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As human beings we are torn. We want more stuff, better relationships, richer experiences and to be known and appreciated and applauded. Our insecurities are legion and they hound us into frenetic activity as we try to quiet the shrieking, howling feverish monkey of our mind.

Dr. Rao's Featured Talks View all

Should I Keep Struggling or Throw in the Towel and Move on?

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A framework that helps you decide when to keep and it and when to give up

Aphorisms and proverbs sometimes pack powerful wisdom.  We are fond of quoting them and using them to guide our behavior or to explain it.

But have you noticed how many of them contradict each other?

We should “Look before we leap” but, unfortunately, “He who hesitates is lost.”

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You Don’t Die Because of Illness. You Die Because You Were Born!

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We are all on Death Row. Don’t bother about dying – think about whether you are living.

For many years I was in thrall to ‘some day.’

My wife and I are both tennis fanatics and regularly tune in to the Grand Slams and most of the Masters. We knew we would go to the French Open ‘some day.’

And Wimbledon.

And the Australian Open.

Last year a friend asked me when ‘some day’ would come.

I reflected and then bought tickets to the Men’s and Women’s semifinals and finals. I told my wife and she was able to re-arrange her schedule.

We went and had a grand time.

There is something we forget – we are all on an inexorable journey that will end with the obliteration of our individual ego.

The change is all around us but we try to ignore it. I vividly remember bringing my daughter home from the hospital. Her foot was half the size of my palm.

Now she is married and co-founder of a tech start-up in San Francisco.

I taught my son chess and he was amazed at how the pieces coordinated to produce winning combinations. Now he beats me routinely and is about to graduate from Columbia Law School.

I walk up flights of stairs that I would once run up. Keep Reading

You Make It All Up!!!

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I was looking for a really good example for a lesson I wanted to share with you.

Today, I found it. You will be well served in the New Year – now nearly three weeks old! – if you pay heed.

And I found this example, by happenstance, when I was not looking. In fact, I was goofing off and watching a movie.

Let me give you some background. Saroo grew up dirt poor in India. He was very close to his elder brother Guddu who would watch out for him and play with him and promised to get him lots of jelabis – an Indian sweet that they were too poor to afford.

He was also close to his mother who would hug him and cuddle him and feed him and care for him.

When he was five years old Saroo went to sleep in a stationary train that started up and transported him to Kolkata, more than a thousand miles from home.

Destitute and starving, unable to speak Bengali, the local language, he lands up in an orphanage and is adopted by affluent Australian couple. He is brought up in Tasmania.

Flashes of his childhood keep recurring and, with the encouragement of friends, he estimates how long he was on the train and maps out places that could have been his home. He then spends months visiting these via Google Earth.

Finally he strikes paydirt and hops over to India to meet his birth family. There is a tearful reunion with his mother. And then he asks, “Where’s Guddu?”

Turns out that Guddu had been struck by a train and died the same night he was lost.

He dissolves into tears and the heartache is palpable.

For the curious, the movie is Lion and it is still playing in theaters. Doubtless it will appear soon on Netflix and other streaming services.

The lesson? Keep Reading

Paths of Glory Lead but to the Grave

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In his time he may have been the most powerful man in the world

He came in fashionably late and occupied his cushioned seat atop the intricately carved marble structure upon which his throne rested.

It was a hot tropical morning but his heavy robes actually kept him cool and shielded from the searing wind. His diadem laden crown felt heavy and he refrained from turning his head for fear that it would fall.

He looked at the pulsing, seething crowd below and, instantly, they fell to their knees in homage. A far larger crowd had gathered outside the mammoth, red sandstone, walls of his palace.

There was anger in the air but it was rapidly changing to fear.

He was about to help that transformation accelerate.

Today was not an ordinary court day. Today he would let his subjects know what happened when they forgot that he, and he alone, was their divinely appointed ruler.

He leaned forward slightly to look directly below him. A dozen naked men were there, each held in chains by two burly guards. They were in sorry shape. Many had broken limbs with white bones showing through torn skin. Flesh, charred with branding irons, was suppurating.

One was comatose and only the chains kept him upright. 

They had all confessed. Under enhanced interrogation from his most skilled intelligence officers they had given up comrades and exposed the conspiracy. Even now his horsemen were pursuing the one surviving leader. He would soon be captured.

Now it was time to teach his subjects a lesson they would never forget. Keep Reading

The Real Reason You Get Angry and Fearful

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I have fielded many calls in the recent past from persons in the grip of strong emotions, primarily anger and fear.

Do you become angry and afraid? Have you ever wondered why?

Steve had a rough day at work. His boss asked him to do a report all over again even though he had scrupulously adhered to the guidelines he had been given. The boss had changed his mind about what he needed. Instead of acknowledging this and apologizing he blamed Steve for not giving him what he now wanted. The HR clerk called to let him know that his expenses would not be reimbursed. True, he had stayed at a more expensive hotel than permitted but had assumed that he could cover the extra charges with personal funds. Not so. The clerk said there would be no reimbursement. He could probably get this reversed by going up the HR chain but it would take up time he did not have and use up relationship capital he wanted to conserve. As he entered his house he felt something under his foot and heard an ominous crack. His son’s brand new Gameboy console had just broken. He had spoken to him many, many times about the inadvisability of leaving stuff around. Something snapped. He took the stairs two at a time with flames shooting from his eyes. He was going to have a word with his son.

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