What Happens When You Get Up At 4.30am for 4 Years?


What happens when you get up at 4.30am for 4 years

I have created many habits. We all do.

It keeps life simple and allows us to get things done without having to make constant decisions.

But some are stranger than others.

What shoe I put on first in the morning and what side of the bed I sleep on every night are in the ordinary category.

Have you ever tried to change even those simple habits?

Felt the resistance?

Some habits work for you and others stop you changing and evolving.

A strange habit

What happens when you decide to get up at 4.30am and continue that habit for the next 4 years. And create before starting your day job?

A few years ago I started writing. Not a book but just publishing online.

A passion project.

At first I wrote late in the evening. But it soon changed to an early morning habit.

Five days a week I rose before garbage trucks and street cleaners. Turned off email, social networks and other distractions.

The ritual

The ritual included a coffee, a mug of lemon tea and sitting down and strapping myself in.

I researched, wrote and published. The last step was pushing that content to the waiting world. When you do that one day at a time for years then things start to happen.

Done before most people were awake.

It’s about your creative space. Blocking out time for your “deep work”.

Complexity to simplicity

It’s about designing your life.

Crafting. Sharing your expertise, experience and passion.

We all have the opportunity to be craftsmen. To be creators and producers owning the work. Not beholden to the corporation.

This habit of deep work is not just about productivity. It is much deeper than that.

It is a place where your learning and knowledge goes to a new level. Where you craft complexity into simplicity. Develop insights, influence and thought leadership.

Where magic happens

This personal creation is an investment in you.

But……don’t keep your creation hidden from the world.

Share it.

That is where the magic happens.

The reality is there are different approaches that you can apply to this life transforming habit.

Its not size fits all.

Check out “The One Habit that Transformed my Life“to find out more.


14 Inspiring Stories Of Karna You Should Read If You Think Life Has Been Unfair

Had a bad day recently? You have that nagging feeling that fate has not been fair to you, and everything you do, however earnestly always fails.

Before you give up and spend the days dejected, spend a few minutes reading about Karna and how life played a cruel game with him. Not because you take comfort in knowing that someone has had it much worse than you, but because someone had it much worse than you and he still had a respectable life.

So respectable, that people still respect him today.

Read on.

1. Karna was literally abandoned by his own mother


Kunti, the princess was given a boon by sage Durvasa that she could invoke a mantra and call any god and have a child. While still unmarried, she called Surya (sun god) and Karna was born.

Kunti, was ashamed of this “bastard” and didn’t know how to explain the birth. So she put the child in a basket on a river.


2. He was refused the knowledge of warfare, because he was a charioteer’s son


Karna was brought up by a charioteer, a class much lower than the mighty Kshatriyas. But in his blood, he was a warrior.

He went to Dronacharya to learn warfare, but Drona rejected his proposal, because he was not a Kshatriya.


3. Undaunted with a thirst for learning, he disguised himself as a brahmin to learn


He disguised himself as a brahmin to learn warfare from Parshurama. And learned everything there is to learn about warfare. Such was his dedication.


4. Parshuram cursed him even though he knew that Karna was a Kshatriya


We all know the story where Parashurama is resting his head on Karna’s lap and the wasp lands on Karna’s thigh and burrows a hole.

Parshurama knew that Karna was a kshatriya way before this incident. He knew Karna lied about being a brahmin.

And he still cursed Karna. He cursed that Karna would lose all essential knowledge of weapons when he would need them the most.


5. He even outshone Arjun when they finished their training, but was shooed away like a dog by Dronacharya


After the Pandavas and the Kauravas finish their training, a grand gala was organized where they showed off their awesome skills. Karna made his way to this gala, and did feats that leave all the Pandavas and Kauravas embarrassed. He outshone each of them.

Then he is shooed away from the place by Drona for not being a Kshatriya – again. Drona also accused Karna of adharma, because he thought that Karna stole all the military knowledge because he is not entitled to it.


6. He won Draupadi’s hand in marriage even before Arjuna by hitting the fish’s eye but again was rejected


At Draupadi’s Swayamwar, Karna shoots the fish before Arjuna. But is rejected outrightly in front of everyone by Draupadi.

She proclaimed in front of the whole crowd that she would never marry a Suta (the lowly caste).

Karna accepted this and walked away.


7. He was cursed by a brahmin for accidentally killing a cow while practicing archery


Once when Karna was practicing his archery, he accidentally killed a cow. The cow belonged to a brahmin, who is enraged. He cursed Karna that he will also be killed by an arrow when he is the most helpless.

Karna is killed when he was trying to remove his chariot wheel from the mud.


8. He helped a small child and was cursed by Mother Earth


Once, a small girl was carrying a bowl of ghee to her mother and she accidentally spills it on the ground. She was very afraid that her mother would scold her for this. Karna decided to help her by invoking powerful incantations to squeeze ghee out of Earth itself.

This caused great pain to Mother Earth and she cursed Karna, that when he would be the most vulnerable, she would abandon him.

Thus, his chariot wheel could not be taken out of the mud it was stuck in.


9. He was not allowed to fight because Bhishma refused to fight alongside a warrior who was not Kshatriya


Before the Kurukshetra war started, both camps were supposed to appoint a commander-in-chief and Duryodhan nominated Karna.

Bhishma refused to fight under or along with a warrior who was not a kshatriya.

So Karna was humiliated once again and had to wait until Bhishma fell, so that he could take part in the battle.


10. Karna gave his enchanted armor to a disguised Indra, even when he knew it was dirty trick


Karna was born with an impenetrable golden armor – a gift from his father – Surya. Indra – Arjuna’s father – knew that this armor would prevent Karna’s death, and so went in a disguise to ask for the armor.

The armor is not an armor that one puts on like clothes. The armor is attached to him and is a bodily part.

He nevertheless ripped out the armor and gave it away as we would rip out a chunk of flesh from our body.


11. Kunti pleaded to Karna to not kill the Pandavas, even if that meant that Karna died.


When the Kurukshetra war was almost at close, the Pandavas were reeling from the assault by Karna. Karna had defeated every Pandava brother except for Arjuna.

One night after the battle, Kunti approached Karna and appealed to him to not kill any Pandavas. Karna agreed and said that Kunti will have all her 5 sons, and he said this in spite of knowing that Kunti is his mother.

And this is in spite of Kunti knowing that Karna is her son.

She would rather see the five brothers live rather than six.


12. Arjuna’s chariot wheel was stuck in their duel, and Karna paused the fight, respecting the rules


On the day Arjuna faced off with Karna, the weather was horrible because Indra (god of rain) was in full force to support his son. Arjuna’s chariot wheel was stuck in the mud while fighting Karna and Karna stopped fighting, because it was not fair.

Krishna and Arjuna pulled the chariot wheel free and then the fighting resumed.


13. Only to be killed in the most wretched fashion


Then, Karna’s chariot wheel was stuck.

And all the curses followed.

He forgot the incantations to divine weapons.

And Arjuna killed him when he was the most vulnerable.


14. And then, when he was almost dying, he still had something to give…

When he was in the mud, dying, Krishna came forth in a brahmin’s disguise and asked for some alms from Karna.

Karna took a stone from the ground and broke two of his gold teeth and gave it to the brahmin. The brahmin cursed Karna for giving him teeth with saliva on it.

Karna, almost dead, took a bow and arrow and punctured Earth so that there was a spring of water to wash the teeth clean. He offered the clean gold teeth to Krishna.

Krishna was so impressed by Karna, he showed him his Vishwaroop. Thus, Karna becomes only the third mortal to see this vision.

All his life, Karna was ridiculed, shamed and humiliated. Every time. And not just by other characters. He was shamed by fate itself. But he never stopped learning, and never stopped fighting. And he never stopped being a loyal friend to Duryodhana.

And he never refused to stand up for what he believed in – Dharma.

And the most important of all – he never stopped giving. He gave away his most valuable at a request, even though he knew how cruel fate was.

So, if you think you have had a bad day, and life is not going as you want it to, take heart from the story of Karna and face it nonetheless, without fear of failure and without any interruption in learning.

Because at the end of the day, and at the end of time, were you unflinching in the eye of a cruel fate and stayed your path?

Because in real life, fate does seem to be cruel and life unfair.

Weather the storm and live your life in humility, generosity and dignity – just like Karna.

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Is This The Beginning of an Era of Low Oil Prices?

What a difference sixteen months can make. In June 2014, global oil prices were trading at nearly US$108 a barrel. This week, oil prices crashed to below US$37 a barrel – the lowest price since the height of the global financial crisis in February 2009.

How does one make any sense of it? Oil prices ultimately are influenced by demand-supply dynamics. Let us look at the supply side first. Prices started falling post June 2014 when the US shale oil production boomed. This led to a huge oversupply in the global oil market.

One hoped that the OPEC cartel would respond with a cut in oil production. But that did not happen. Saudi Arabia is the biggest player in OPEC and has taken the view that maintaining its market share is more important than bolstering oil prices. Thus, the latest OPEC meet saw the cartel choosing not to cut production.

On the demand side, European economies continue to remain weak. Asian economies, most notably China, are slowing. So the demand has waned. The US has also not seen its economy spectacularly pick up. Demand is subdued, and so the market is not able to absorb excess crude supplies.

Thus, too much supply and not much demand has led to the plunge in oil prices. But the real question is whether such low oil prices are here to stay.

First, US shale production has begun to slow down, though not enough to prevent the oil price slide. Big energy companies and US shale gas producers have reduced capital spending to protect their balance sheets and preserve their cash reserves. While US shale producers can stay above water if oil prices are more than US$55 a barrel, anything below that causes real pain.

Second, can OPEC really live with low oil prices? CNN Money has highlighted how OPEC members are divided. One side is led by Saudi Arabia, which remains the top oil production nation. The country, along with its rich allies, can digest very low prices. But the same cannot be said of countries such as Nigeria, Venezuela, and the others for whom high oil prices are necessary to keep their economies going.

So while near-term pressures could remain for oil prices, in the longer run, such low prices may not be sustainable. According to a CNBC article, Dan Yergin, IHS Vice Chairman, expects oil markets to begin balancing in 2016 or 2017. He says that the global oil market cannot remain low like this because it will not encourage the kind of investments required. By 2020, the world oil market is going to need another seven million barrels a day of production. So oil prices eventually will start firming.

What does all of this mean for India? It is not necessarily all good. As oil makes up a large share of the import pie, low prices mean a lower oil import bill and less pressure on the country’s current account balances.

As far as India Inc, lower crude prices will translate into lower input costs thereby boosting profits. This especially could not have happened at a better time as India Inc continues to grapple with weak demand and sluggish revenue growth. However, oil companies, especially those into exploration and production, are likely to face a tough time in the near to medium term as low prices exert considerable pressure on their overall financials and impact viability of fresh investments.

Having said that, Richa Agarwal, our in-house energy analyst, opines that this is more of a short term phenomenon. In the longer run, factors such as high demand for oil, finite supply and rising cost of exploration suggest that oil will be expensive in future.

Ultimately, it is tough to predict where oil prices will head next, though the long term trend suggests that oil prices cannot remain low for very long and will average at somewhere around US$60-65 a barrel. This is more of an average and one could see spikes and plunges along the way. Thus, it would not be prudent to assume that oil prices will stay low for a long time to come.