How Rajinikanth teaches you productivity, discipline and humility

Though raised in Mumbai, I am Tamil. People from Tamil Nadu have a huge affinity for their top actor of all time, Rajinikanth. Internet memes have been created in his honour. At every movie theatre in Tamil Nadu, be in Chennai or Kanyakumari, when a Rajini movie is aired, fanatic Tamils stand up and cheer his every punch dialogue. It can be comical, entertaining, bewildering or exasperating, depending on whether you like him or not. I am not a big Rajini fan, nor do I call him a superstar, nor think he is a particularly good actor. But even I cannot deny that his so-called ‘punch dialogues‘ are packed with lessons for life, especially in the virtues of productivity, discipline and humility. Add to that the music scores that accompany his every punch line and the words seem profound and immortal!

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A simple two-sided trick to get better at discipline

Travelling by bus through the Himalayas, we noticed a man attempting to throw three empty plastic water bottles out of the bus window. We immediately told him not to do that. The man looked at us, then withdrew the bottles, thankfully not converting the beautiful landscape into a landfill. After a while, he walked to us and asked if we ever planted trees. When we said no, he launched into a virtue-loaded story about how he planted a tree on his birthday every year from when he was a certain age and on special occasions like Diwali, children’s day, etc and now that he was 57, he must have planted more than 50 trees. Priya (my wife) and I did our best to listen and keep up with his bragging.

The man’s story was good. He had focused on what he should do to increase the earth’s green cover one tree at a time. However, what about garbage and their harmful effects? What about his non-biodegradable plastic bottles meddling with the Himalayan landscape and causing a hazard for the soil, the plants and the animals?

The man had focused only on what to DO and had ignored what NOT to DO. The man would have benefited from a DOs and DON’Ts list. You often need both to enforce discipline. Continue reading A simple two-sided trick to get better at discipline