Saturday, April 26, 2008


Wilma Rudolph was born into a poor home in Tennessee. At age four, she had double pneumonia with scarlet fever, a deadly combination which left her paralyzed with polio. She had to wear a brace and the doctor said she would never put her foot on the earth. But her mother encouraged her; she told Wilma that with God-given ability, persistence and faith she could do anything she wanted. Wilma said, "I want to be the fastest woman on the track on this earth." At the age of nine, against the advice of the doctors, she removed the brace and took the first step the doctors had said she never would. At the age of 13, she entered her first race and came way, way last. And then she entered her second, and third and fourth and came way, way last until a day came when she came in first. At the age of 15 she went to Tennessee State University where she met a coach by the name of Ed Temple. She told him, "I want to be the fastest woman on the track on this earth." Temple said, "With your spirit nobody can stop you and besides, I will help you."
The day came when she was at the Olympics and at the Olympics you are matched with the best of the best. Wilma was matched against a woman named Jutta Heine who had never been beaten. The first event was the 100-meter race. Wilma beat Jutta Heine and won her first gold medal. The second event was the 200-meter race and Wilma beat Jutta a second time and won her second gold medal. The third event was the 400-meter relay and she was racing against Jutta one more time. In the relay, the fastest person always runs the last lap and they both anchored their teams. The first three people ran and changed the baton easily. When it came to Wilma's turn, she dropped the baton. But Wilma saw Jutta shoot up at the other end; she picked the baton, ran like a machine, beat Jutta a third time and won her third gold medal. It became history: That a paralytic woman became the fastest woman on this earth at the 1960 Olympics.

*Adapted from Star Ledger, November 13, 1994.

What a lesson to be learnt from Wilma. It teaches us that successful people do it in spite of, not in absence of, problems. When we hear or read stories of people who have turned adversity into opportunity, doesn't it motivate us? If we regularly read biographies and autobiographies of such people, won't we stay motivated?

Thursday, April 24, 2008


There was a young boy who used to come for regular practice but always played in the reserves and never made it to the soccer eleven. While he was practicing, his father used to sit at the far end, waiting for him.

The matches had started and for four days, he didn't show up for practice or the quarter or semifinals. All of a sudden he showed up for the finals, went to the coach and said, "Coach, you have always kept me in the reserves and never let me play in the finals. But today, please let me play." The coach said, "Son, I'm sorry, I can't let you. There are better players than you and besides, it is the finals, the reputation of the school is at stake and I cannot take a chance." The boy pleaded, "Coach, I promise I will not let you down. I beg of you, please let me play." The coach had never seen the boy plead like this before. He said, "OK, son, go, play. But remember, I am going against my better judgment and the reputation of the school is at stake. Don't let me down." The game started and the boy played like a house on fire. Every time he got the ball, he shot a goal. Needless to say, he was the best player and the star of the game. His team had a spectacular win. When the game finished, the coach went up to him and said, "Son, how could I have been so wrong in my life. I have never seen you play like this before. What happened? How did you play so well?" The boy replied, "Coach, my father is watching me today." The coach turned around and looked at the place where the boy's father used to sit. There was no one there. He said, "Son, your father used to sit there when you came for practice, but I don't see anyone there today." The boy replied, "Coach, there is something I never told you. My father was blind. Just four days ago, he died. Today is the first day he is watching me from above."

Sunday, April 20, 2008


This is a story of two brothers. One was a drug addict and a drunker who frequently beat up his family. The other one was a very successful businessman who was respected in society and had a wonderful family. Some people wanted to find out why two brothers from the same parents, brought up in the same environment, could be so different. The first one was asked, "How come you do what you do? You are a drug addict, a drunk, and you beat your family. What motivates you?" He said, "My father." They asked, "What about your father?" The reply was, "My father was a drug addict, a drunk and he beat his family. What do you expect me to be? That is what I am." They went to the brother who was doing everything right and asked him the same question. "How come you are doing everything right? What is your source of motivation?" And guess what he said? "My father. When I was a little boy, I used to see my dad drunk and doing all the wrong things. I made up my mind that that is not what I wanted to be."

Both were deriving their strength and motivation from the same source, but one was using it positively and the other negatively.

Negative motivation brings the desire to take the easier way which ends up being the tougher way.