The other day, I was watching a rerun of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on TV ,some random episode from season 1. There was this scene, where Sheldon was conversing with Penny and the subject of her weight came up and Sheldon invariably ended up insulting her. When Penny retaliated, Sheldon said,
“Is Your Body Mass Somehow tied Into Your Self Worth?”
And I had a revelation. The problem with our feelings of self worth is that generally it is a function of something. I mean, how good you feel about yourself daily is kind of tied to something you do or have, for example a great job, a good physique, your financial worth or maybe even that hot girl you’re dating. But when something goes wrong, our self worth plummets along with that object which was tied to it. But, that is not, how I think life should be. Let me show you some examples of people who defied this and came through.
1. Are your looks somehow tied
into your Self-Worth?
Then Meet this Man.
This man, Nawazuddin Siddiqui , born the son of a farmer, is now an acclaimed Bollywood Actor.
Born in an ordinary village he grew up amid a lot of hardships and became a chemist. Realizing he did not want to be a chemist, Nawazuddin Siddiqui shifted to Delhi to study drama from the National School of Drama. After graduation he came to Mumbai looking for an acting job. He was sure he would succeed given his amazing acting skills. But unfortunately in India, or honestly, anywhere actually, good looking people with good physiques are given more opportunities and ties to famous actors/actresses are vital to having an ‘in’ into the industry. Having neither, Siddiqui faced a lot of difficulty . He started out acting as an extra in many movies, sometimes for as low as 1000 Rs.
In 2003, He was credited as a ‘Pickpocket’ in the end credits of ‘Munnabhai MBBS’. In 2010, He acted in ‘Peepli Live’.In 2013, he got the lead role in ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. He also acted in the critically acclaimed movie ‘The LunchBox’. He is now the darling of crossover cinema.
“I want to be the highest-paid actor in India. Mark my words, that day is not far off” He declares.
Ambitious? Why the fuck not?
Meanwhile, in foreign locales, there was this guy who was born paralyzed in the lower left part of his face. And worse, his speech was slurred. And yet he dared, this same man with facial paralysis and slurred speech, dared to dream that he would be an actor. He went to a big city to become an actor but nobody wanted him. The man slept at a bus terminal for 3 weeks. He had to sell his only companion, his dog, to a stranger for money. He got an idea observing people and got the inspiration to write a screenplay. He wrote it in three days. Eventually he found producers who were willing to pay him a lot for this script. Their only condition was that he not act in it. He refused. Finally, the producers relented and let him act in the movie, paying him one-tenth the original amount. The movie made 200 Million Dollars.
The man was Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone and the movie was Rocky.
2. Is your physical disability
somehow tied into your
Then meet this guy.
This man, Nick Vujicic, born without all his limbs, is now a motivational speaker and happily married.
Nicholas James “Nick” Vujicic was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a disease which is characterized by the absence of all four limbs. After struggling both emotionally and physically with this affliction throughout his childhood. When he was ten years old, he decided to end his life by drowning himself in a bathtub. After a couple attempts, he realized that he did not want to leave his loved ones with the burden and guilt that would result from his suicide. This emotional maturity at 10? There are 18 year olds in India who commit suicide when they don’t perform well. In a fucking exam.
Later he learned to accept it and what is even more inspiring, embraced it. He started his own non-profit organization, called Life without Limbs. He inspires millions of people worldwide, as a motivational speaker.
The brave 31-year-old plays football and golf, swims, and surfs. Nick has a small foot on his left hip which helps him balance and enables him to kick. He uses his one foot to type, write with a pen and pick things up between his toes. He is married to his beautiful wife, Kanae and resides in California.
3. Is your Job Title somehow
tied into your Self-Worth?
Meet these Guys, Jan Koum and Brian Acton
Jan Koum, is an immigrant for Ukraine. He came to the United States at the age of 16. He was so broke he used his old Soviet notebooks for school and queued with his mom for food stamps. He learnt computer networking all by himself with manuals at a used book store. Finally, he enrolled at San Jose State university and worked at Ernst & Young as a security tester. The turning point in his life came when he met Brian Acton.
Brian Acton graduated from Stanford University. Both of them were hired by Yahoo and worked together for around 9 years. Acton invested in the dot com bubble and lost millions. In September 2007 both left Yahoo and decided to take a break. They traveled for a year around South Africa and played ultimate Frisbee.
After they came back, they both applied to Facebook and failed. Acton was even rejected by Twitter.
When they came back, they discussed start up ideas. Koum had the idea to get people across the world to network on a simple platform effortlessly. It took him months of strenuous coding to get the system working. Several times it failed. At point he would have given up if not for the support of Brian Acton. After completion, he tried the app on some of his Russian friend’s phones. After an encouraging response, he released Whatsapp 2.0 with a messaging component and active users went up to 250,000. By 2011, it was among the top 20 apps in the US App store. Come 2013, Whatsapp had over 200 million users. Today, it has over 450 million users worldwide which is freaking awesome for a company which does not employ a marketer or PR person. Its success has come from word of mouth.
Whatsapp had a very simple strategy in what their product would be about. Here is what Brian Acton kept taped to his desk.
That is what made me like Whatsapp, that it seemed to have no ulterior motive. And that is was so simple to use. That made me recommend it to my friends. All because two people had this brilliant idea that could change the world.
4. Is your Financial worth somehow
tied into your Self-Worth?
Then meet this man, Chris Gardner.
If you have watched the movie, “The pursuit of Happyness”, you probably know about Chris Gardner. Will Smith played him so well in the film that I was awestruck. But if you haven’t here is his amazing story.
Gardner did not have a happy childhood. Absentee father, drunk physically abusive stepfather, sent twice to foster care, all the elements required to ensure a uniformly horrible time growing up. Gardner took it all in his stride though. Lets skip ahead through his formative years, he became a corpsman, retired , helped a cardiac surgeon with clinical research, got married, decided to pursue a medical career, decided to go for more lucrative options, became distant from his wife, started an affair with a dental student named Jackie, moved in with her, had a son with her, became a research lab assistant, then a medical equipment salesman.
Wait, what? This inspirational figure had an affair? If you are a self righteous person reading this, please leave. Yes, motivational figures make mistakes too. So, anyway, The turning part of his life occurred when he met a well-dressed man in a red Ferrari. Curious, Gardner asked him what his job was. When the man replied that he was a stock broker, that was when Gardner decided what his career path was going to be. The man introduced Chris to the world of finance. Chris decided to meet with managers to see if he could get a job as a stock broker. Meanwhile he could not focus on his selling medical equipment and his car amassed around 1200 dollars in parking tickets. At this time Jackie decided to leave him along with his son. He was taken to jail for not being able to pay his parking ticket bills.
Gardner returned home from jail to find his apartment empty. With no experience, no college education, virtually no connections, and with the same casual outfit he had been wearing on the day he was taken into custody, Gardner gained a position in Dean Witter Reynolds stock brokerage training program. However, this offered no salary; apart from selling medical equipment that brought in 300-400 dollars a month in the early 1980s, and with no savings, he was unable to meet his living expenses.
While attending this unpaid internship program at Dean Witter Reynolds, Gardner spent a year on the streets with his two-year-old son. They took refuge at night in a church shelter or the bathroom of a BART subway station in Oakland, Calif.This is a man who lived in a bathroom once, he was so poor. A grown man, homeless, with a 5 year old son dependent on him. He literally was surrounded by shit at one point.
Nobody at work knew. Gardner eventually won a position as a stockbroker at Dean Witter. Two years later he left for Bear Stearns (BSC), where he became a top earner. In 1987, he founded his own brokerage firm, Gardner Rich,in Chicago. Today, Gardner is a multimillionaire, a motivational speaker, a philanthropist, and an international businessman who is about to launch a private equity fund that will invest solely in South Africa. His partner in the fund? Nelson Mandela.
So we looked at six people whose lives were pretty shitty. They could have just given up and gone on to live mediocre lives, bordering on the average at best. But deep within, their current state didn’t let them live like that. They had to succeed. It was a visceral feeling in their gut and that led them on to greatness. I am not going to preach about changing your life and all that because personally I haven’t done anything yet. I am just your average engineering student. But I can’t write about stuff like this and not feel inspired. And if somehow through my humble efforts I can give you even a fraction of that feeling, the purpose of this blog post is fulfilled. Thank you for reading. Have an inspired day.