friendships…are a matter not of diversion or of return but of meaning. They render us vulnerable, and in doing so they add dimensions of significance to our lives that can only arise from being…friends with…particular individual…
It is precisely this non-economic character that is threatened in a society in which each of us is thrown upon his or her resources and offered only the bywords of ownership, shopping, competition, and growth. It is threatened when we are encouraged to look upon those around us as the stuff of our current enjoyment or our future advantage. It is threatened when we are led to believe that friendships without a recognizable gain are, in the economic sense, irrational…
In turn, however, it is friendship that allows us to see that there is more than what the prevalent neoliberal discourse places before us as our possibilities. In a world often ruled by the dollar and what it can buy, friendship, like love, opens other vistas..
why do these discussions often get so heated and personal? It is not because there's anything at stake — most of us can't affect policy or shape public opinion, and much of what we argue about doesn't even affect us directly. Instead, we take it so personally because our worldviews are part of our identity. They are how we make sense of the world and ourselves. So if someone attacks a part of our worldview, we react as if we ourselves have been attacked. In public. So we respond accordingly, unwilling, for the most part, to accept that we might be wrong, or that the truth might be too complex for any of us to fathom — or that this shit doesn't really matter.
Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we've found are most effective for our clients:
1. Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.
2. Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That's when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.
3. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity…
4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments…
5. Take regular renewal breaks…
6. Ritualize practice.
Not for nothing did India generate the term ‘sacred cows.’ Our propensities are to conflate the important and the beloved with the sacred. Religiosity is one of those hyper-passionate states that least tolerates challenge or iconoclasm, so the sacred is seen as untouchable. Our public figures are treated not as famous people but as ‘icons’—think Sachin Tendulkar or MG Ramachandran—and we react badly to perceived disrespect. The belief gap is an abyss that, by its nature, no amount of rationality or logic can bridge; there are penalties, both threatened and actual, for irreverence.
And humour is, of course, the archenemy of reverence. Its purpose is to let the air out of overinflated balloons. Its engine is disruption and subversion, generated by surprise, paradox, absurdity, contradiction or incongruity; it lives largely by touching the untouchable. The more rules and protocols there are, the more scope there is for humour.
Very few mainstream magazines or newspapers have room for children’s books, good academic writing, works in translation or poetry any more. So a book like Grasshopper’s Run flies under the radar—even though it works just as well for an adult audience as it does for teenagers, your kids are likelier to find it in their school libraries than you are in bookshops. Why else would adults not read a well-crafted, simply told story about one of the most fascinating conflicts in the history of our country?