Answer Yourself! A blog by Sukhpreet Singh

A blog on personal development, entrepreneurship & change.

16th April 2008

I am back, I had been suffering from excusitis

Excusitis – one of the most prevalent disease of the “average mind” that blocks all the roads to success and achievement. I was blessed with a son last December and the last post I wrote 29th Nov. Since then, I haven’t written any post and every time I would give myself or anyone else one simple reason why I don’t write anymore or do other stuff that I use to do before the baby was born – “I don’t get time ‘cuz my son keeps me busy.”

I was under a tight grip of this excusitis for past couple of months. Every time, I would come up with an idea to write a blog article, my laziness would jump in and my mind would say “You are too tired to write that…. you haven’t slept well… you are sick… nobody is gonna read it anyways so whats the hurry…” and I would give in. Sometimes I mustered enough strength to write an outline but could never overcome the power of excusitis to finisih off what I started and I have about 7-9 posts in “outline” state. So what changed?

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I have always believed in power of company and so I figured that I must be doing something wrong. I discovered that I was not reading good books anymore (especially before going to bed) , I was not listening to good audio CDs anymore, infact I was spending enormous time listening or reading the news. All though it was broadening my mental experiences (I usu. listen to NPR) but I was not feeding my “positive thought process”. So I went searching my stash of CDs and books that have always helped me to put me back on road to success. Voila!! I found the audio book for “MAGIC OF THINKING BIG”. Although I have read this book thrice from cover to cover and have listened this audio CD once, but when I listened to it this time, it seemed that I was listening to it for the first time and that the author was saying everything that I needed to listen.

The 2nd chapter of that book is titled: “Cure yourself of excusitis, the failure disease”. Listening to that chapter, I diagnosed the my symptoms were that of excusitis. And that chapter also described the cure for it. I listened to that CD everyday for a week and TOOK ACTION. That was it – I was cured. I am very happy to have such good company of great books.

I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE. This is one of the most simple and yet most powerful book written on self-improvement.Excusitis

Here is the summary of this chapter:
Basically, there are four most common forms of excusitis:
1) Health Excusitis : “…but my health isn’t good.
2) Intelligence Excusitis : “… but you’ve got to have brains to succeed.
3) Age Excusitis : “… it’s no use. I’m too Old (or too young)
4) Luck Excusitis : “… but my case is different; I attract bad luck

Here is the list of a few vaccines against:
1) Health Excusitis :
a) Refuse to talk about your health. The more you talk about an ailment, the worse it seems to get.
b) Refuse to worry about your health. Exercise some self control.
c) Be genuinely grateful that your health is as good as it is. Think of that old saying: “I felf sorry for myself because I didn’t have any shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
d) Remind yourself often, “Its better to weat out that rust out.” Life is yours to enjoy; don’t waste it worrying.

2) Intelligence Excusitis :
a) Never underestimate your own intelligence and never overestimate the intelligence of others. Don’t sell youself short. Concentrate on your assets. Oh my GOD, I can’t tell you true this is.
b) Remind yourself often: “My attitudes are more important than my intelligence.”
c) Remember that the ability to think is of much greater value than the ability to memorize facts. Use it to create and develope ideas, to find new and better ways to do things.

3) Age Excusitis :
a) Think “I am still young,” not “I’m already old”. OR “I am young, but I have energy of youth to compensate for inexperience”. Practice looking forward to new horizons.
b) Don’t concentrate on lost time: “I should have started years ago”. Rather, invest future time in doing what you really want to do.

4) Luck Excusitis :
a) Accept the law of cause and effect. Take a second look at what appears to be someone’s “good luck”. You’ll find not luck but preparation, planning, hardwork and success-producing thinking preceded his good fortune. I have always liked this quote from Michael Jordan when someone asked him: “Do you think you have been lucky in life”. His reply was: “The harder I worked, the luckier I got”.
b) Don’t be a wishful thinker. Don’t waster your mental muscles dreaming of an effortless way to win success.

I like to see excusitis as common cold. There is no onetime cure for it. Excusitis will strike back in some other form. Have your chest of vaccine in mind and on detecting the first symptom of it, inoculate yourself with these simple steps. The tricky part is to detect the symptoms soon enough.

Act upon some of these simple steps and cure yourself from excusitis today. If you use some other kool techniques to fight any kind of excusitis, I will be happy to learn it from you. Please feel free to share.

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posted in personal-development, think |
12th October 2007

Don’t you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence?

Watching TVI am not a big proponent of watching too much TV for entertainment. I believe watching 5-6 hrs./week for entertainment should be good enough. Now if your kids watch too much TV thats even worse. Here are a few stats that i picked up from this website:

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.

1) Percentage of households that possess at least one television: 99
2) Percentage of U.S. homes with three or more TV sets: 66
3) Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes

4) Number of hours of TV watched annually by Americans: 250 billion
5) Value of that time assuming an average wage of $5/hour: S1.25 trillion

6) Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
7) Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
8 ) Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
9) Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500

10) Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000
11) Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000
12) Percentage of Americans who believe TV violence helps precipitate real life mayhem: 79

This quote best sums up the relation between intelligence and TV :
Don’t you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There’s one marked ‘Brightness,’ but it doesn’t work.” – Gallagher

On an average, how much TV do you watch per day?

  • 1 – 2 hrs (41%, 15 Votes)
  • 2 – 4 hrs (19%, 7 Votes)
  • I don’t watch TV at all (16%, 6 Votes)
  • Less than 1 hr (16%, 6 Votes)
  • 4 or more hrs (8%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 37


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posted in personal-development |
21st September 2007

What I learned about being an Emcee.

Opportunity knocked on my door. Was I able to recognize it and grab it? What helped me to take the decision and what helped me after I took the decision? What did I learn?

Lets examine:Emcee - Master of Ceremonies

I am talking about an opportunity to be an Emcee – Master of Ceremonies – at a birthday party of about 400 people.

Was I able to recognize it and grab it? Yes. I got a call from someone in my extended family to be the Emcee at his party. I still don’t know why he picked me, but I was happy to get his call. Within 15-20 seconds my mind saw an opportunity and I said, “Yes, I will be glad to be emcee of your party.” The reasons are as follows:

  1. To jump the gap; break the vacuum; leap of faith: I wanted to graduate from comfort of speaking at Toastmaster meetings to a more real-world environment. Everyday I envision myself as a great speaker to bring about the “change”, to be able to “influence” others, to be a “lighthouse” [after having developed a strong character.]. And I saw this as a baby step towards that direction.
  2. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I know that I will give many presentations, speak in front of investors, employees, and clients. So why not test myself in front of an informal gathering – warm waters.
  3. Free marketing of ME Inc. I will be able to expose myself to so many people in just an hour – super-bowl ad vs. door-to-door.

What helped me to take the decision, and what helped me after I took the decision? I mentioned here that you should prepare when you don’t need to so that when opportunity strikes, you are prepared to grab it. I have been practicing to overcome my fear of public speaking and also polishing my speaking skills, as a member of Toastmaster’s club. So that gave me enough confidence to go out in the unknown environment and grab the opportunity. While making notes and while speaking at the party, I used all the guidelines that I learned during my speeches – voice inflection, body posture, pauses etc. Besides that, I also researched on other tips on Emceeing.

As an emcee, I had to start the function, conduct it and close it. During the function, there were speeches, dances and formal cake-cutting ceremony. I got great tips from this website. Here is what I learned and what worked for me:

a) You should be able to create an environment in which both performers (or speakers) and listeners feel welcomed, comfortable and respected. You should be able to relate to the audience.

b) You must remember that you are not the “show.” The focus is not on you – rather on the speaker, the audience and the performers.

c) You should be willing to take instructions from the producer of the show.

d) You must strive to keep show on time and be prepared to handle any detours.

1. Before The Show: Prepare Yourself
a) Familiarize yourself with the list of announcements so that when you are up on stage, you can comfortably announce them rather than reading them word for word from your notes.

b) First & last impression have a lot of weight. So plan and practice your opening and closing lines of the function.

c) Plan your “introductions” for the speakers. Ask speakers what they would like the audience to know about them. Share a few interesting, less-known facts, or something funny with the audience that the speaker is comfortable sharing. Few things that would help the audience better understand speaker and his speech. [Funny incidents from speaker’s life worked out great for me, as it was an informal party. Achievements might work better for a formal gathering.]. But be brief to avoid seeing yawing faces.

2. At The Performance Site: Get Acquainted
a) Arrive early and orient yourself with the venue. Make sure that every thing is set up and ready to go (water-bottles, mic, music, lights, etc.). Test the mic (sound) and placement of speakers/sub-woofers. This was the biggest mistake that I made. I didn’t test the mic and sound-system. To begin with the sound output was so poor that the audience kept loosing interest, as they couldn’t hear the first few speeches or my jokes properly. Later the problem was fixed but the initial damage was already done. Now I had to work harder to get everybody to listen.

b) Introduce yourself to the staff: sound technicians, stage managers, tent monitors, DJ, etc. That helped me to develop rapport with them. They will then be more tuned to understand your needs.

c) Introduce yourself to the speakers and performers (dance-performers in this case). Let them know where they can find bathrooms, water, tissues, food etc.

d) Go over the order in which they will perform. But be prepared for contingencies. During the event one of the group was not ready to perform their dance and so I had to switch it with another group and accordingly my introductions.

e) Confirm their allotted time and ask each how they would like to be notified when they are nearing the end of their allotted time.

f) Ask if there are any special needs or special stage set-ups.

3. During The Program: Be Gracious and Alert.
a) Welcome the audience. Greet them warmly. I greeted in two languages, as there were people, who understood only English, then there were those who understood only Punjabi (language) and finally there were there those who understood both languages. Infact, I used another urban slang to greet teenage audience (”Whatup yawl?”). This worked great for informal event like a birthday party but might not work great for a formal event. The idea is to make them feel welcomed, respected, and connect with them and have some fun.

b) Introduce yourself and tell them how the session will progress (speeches, dance performances, cocktail, food, breaks, etc.) so that they know where they are headed and can feel comfortable.

c) Establish the rules (those introductory announcements regarding cell phones, etc.) Be brief and get the ball rolling.

d) While introducing speakers: introduce them, stay on stage if they need assistance to setup mic, stand etc. Then, get off the stage. Introduce each speaker with equal enthusiasm. Listen to their speech carefully (if possible) so that you can bring the audience out of one speech and into the next. You have to transfer audience’s energy from one speaker/performer to the next.

e) Be alert and have some backup scenarios worked out. If something unexpected comes up, be ready to deal with it. So, if there are distractions, try to remove them (toddler wandering around in front of the stage). Or, acknowledge them so that the audience won’t wonder, worry and therefore, not be able to concentrate on the speech.

f) Have a few jokes or short story ready to be told. This came in handy at times when I had to waste some time waiting for the dance group to get their act together or for the DJ to find the song for next dance-performance. I had jokes in two languages – English and Punjabi. Infact, one of the anecdote that I shared was liked enough that the party host (producer) told me to translate it in English too. Jokes and short stories might not be a good idea for formal audience. For formal events, use it if absolutely necessary.

g) Last, but not the least – have a good time. Remember that your enjoyment of the program reflects on everything you say and do.

4. Closing The Program: Thank everyone.
Briefly thank everyone (performers, producers, sound technicians, etc.) including the audience. Give any brief closing announcements and wish them well on their way.

All in all, it was a great experience. I did make few minor mistakes, things did go wrong and to be frank, I was a little nervous. But in the end, I learned from my mistakes, I learned how to overcome the challenges in real-time, and above all I overcame my fear. I can read 400 books on public speaking but they still won’t match the experience of speaking in front of 400 people. Feel free to suggest tips that worked great for you as an emcee.

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posted in change, personal-development |
  • Polls

  • On an average, how much TV do you watch per day?

    • 1 - 2 hrs (41%, 15 Votes)
    • 2 - 4 hrs (19%, 7 Votes)
    • I don't watch TV at all (16%, 6 Votes)
    • Less than 1 hr (16%, 6 Votes)
    • 4 or more hrs (8%, 3 Votes)

    Total Voters: 37


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