How many times have we drowned ourselves in the complexities of our life’s problems and tried to suppress their effects, rather than using them as stepping stones on the path to a better future? In a world where we often hide our dilemmas and troubles, Sameer Dua showed us how to turn our “breakdowns into breakthroughs” through active awareness and consistent commitment.
The “common sense of our understanding,” he began, “is that breakdowns are bad.” Many of us are probably familiar with this concept and have been conditioned to believing this is true, but he stated that “breakdowns give you an opportunity to take a pause and design a new future.”
Using a personal example, Dua described his process of “declaring his breakdowns” and developing a new future. As he pulled up a picture of his family, the smiling faces of his “gorgeous wife and daughter” appeared. In summary, he chronicled his life: how he married his wife in 2002 after a six year long relationship, moved to Bangalore, and brought their first child into the world. However, in 2011, things took a turn for the worse. Not only did his wife walk out of his life with their daughter and file both civil and criminal cases against him, but after a change in policy by the UK government, Dua was forced to shut down his college and liquidate his business in London. To most of us, this sounds like a living nightmare, but for determined and inspired Dua, this was the first step to a new life.
After moving back to Pune, he “decided he needed a structure of powerful people.” Not ‘powerful’ in the traditional sense, but “people who decide their future… powerful because they had choice.” Joining what he called the “5 AM Club,” he would wake every morning at 5 AM and affirm his goals for the day, week, or even a year. And that is how he “designed and generated some crazy futures.” 20 months after his wife left him, he brought her back home (willingly, of course). A year later, they had two adorable additions to their family – a pair of twins.
“How did this happen?” He asked the crowd. He claimed that it all began with asking himself three very important questions. “What does he really care about, what future is really meaningful to him, and is it meaningful to him to move on?” He divided his life into four segments, or four “cares” as he calls them: his career, his non-profit organizations, his family, and lastly, himself. Again, he asked himself the revolutionary question… “What is the future I want to design?”
Then, “despite all the opposition,” he decided that if something mattered to him, it would be worth his while to disrupt his current “flow of life,” instead of ending up in his “default future,” the future is almost certain, but still only probable. The default future is what is guaranteed to us if we continue living in the flow that we are currently in, rather than rebuilding it into something that we can appreciate. Stating that “this future does not work for me,” he made the declaration that he would “work towards a new future and get his wife back.”
So how do we do the same? “We must stop and recognize” the future that we want to have and “open our eyes” to our present predicaments. As Dua said, “you are the source of and the future, your actions are designing the future.” Therefore, becoming more aware of our lives and the steps we need to take in order to reconstruct them helps us achieve the futures that we want to have.
Ending with a rather charming anecdote about his two and a half year old son, Dua illustrated how his son seems to have “a complaint with gravity.” When he falls down, he quickly grows angry with the idea of falling, and gravity as a whole, though he knows nothing of the scientific concept. Thereby, he asked “does gravity not impact you because you don’t know of gravity?” And continuing, stated, “no, gravity doesn’t care. Its impact is there whether you like and accept or not.”
“Like gravity, you’re creating a future – all the time.” He explained. So, what future do you want to create?
The Rotary Club of Bombay was also lucky enough to share a few moments with Sameer Dua and ask him a couple of questions, allowing us to gain insight into his strategies for designing new futures.
Though Dua used a personal example to highlight his ideologies on life, he is also a leadership advisor for many businesses. Therefore, when asked about how to get employees to take ownership of their companies and jobs, Dua responded by expanding upon his concept of “shared cares.” He stated that “80% of people in the US are doing work they don’t enjoy,” which is why the employer must connect with their staff members, but more importantly, create shared cares, in which both parties care about the same elements of their workplaces and careers in order to develop a mutual vision.
Moreover, he also highlighted how it is important to recognize our cares, “the big piece,” and then “shift commitments” when asked about the unpredictability of life’s circumstances. Ultimately, it is our cares that determine our futures and help us achieve the lives we want to have.