Letter No.30 - When you are down and out...

Hi there!

I've been thinking lately about this idea called 'transformation'. We all know about how the caterpillar transforms and becomes a butterfly. There is simply no resemblance between a caterpillar and a butterfly. That is what transformation is all about. Water transform into ice, and there is little or no resemblance between water and ice. Milk transforms into curd, and the hot summer transforms into a cold cold winter.

Transformation is happening around all around us. Our lives, our relationships, our ideas, our thoughts are transforming all the time.

So, I've been wondering about what it takes to make transformation happen in our lives. What are the conditions required for transformation to take place? What kind of energy is required and where does that energy come from?

Transformation requires intense energy. There has to be a complete shift of state. Water molecules must completely re-align the way they line up with each other in order for ice to be formed. It is not a gradual process. It is a sudden shift. The energy required for it may have been applied gradually, but the shift happens suddenly.

I have experience a few such transformations in my life.

Going from the cozy comfort of my parents home in Pune to a year long student exchange program in a small village in Australia at the age of 16. I transformed from a shy boy to a public speaker.

Standing 4th in the world in an international computing competition and being featured by Doordarshan in a talk show. I transformed from being unsure about myself, to being able to speak clear and confidently.

Being sent to Chennai for one month as a young engineer to install some robotic machines at a major automotive plant. I transformed from being a student to a professional.

Getting selected amongst thousands of applicants to study at a leading management institute in India. I transformed from being shaky about my future, to feeling firm and clear.

Taking the plunge to launch the Enterprise India Fellowship for college students, without any formal backing. I transformed from a trainer to an educator.

I'm sure you have gone through many such transformations in your own life. Do take a moment now to identify some of them.


Once again, the question I want to ask at this moment is - "What are the conditions required for a transformation to take place and where does the energy come from?"

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


The thought that comes to mind is only this - the energy required for transformation comes from one and only one source - HUNGER.

Hunger to prove oneself.

Hunger to improve.

Hunger to learn and grow.

Hunger to fight back against injustice.

Hunger to make one's dreams come true.

Hunger to claim what one believes one deserves.

Hunger to live a better life.


Every transformation I have experienced in my life has been born out of hunger of some sort.

Hunger creates a force that converts every situation into pure energy.

Hunger converts failure into energy.

Hunger converts rejection into energy.

Hunger converts lack of resources into energy.

Hunger converts loneliness into energy.

As funny as it sounds, hunger is a source of energy.

Hence, if you wish to transform, fill yourself with hunger!


The fact is that when we are down and out, when we are confused, when we are at the lowest of low points, when there seems to be no clear path forward, that is exactly when we can fill ourselves with hunger. That is exactly when we can use the hunger within us to churn up the energy required for transformation.

I'm not saying any of this is easy. I'm for one moment trying to make being down and out sound easy. It's not. It feels crappy.

But I am saying that that is also when if you look within yourself, if you take some decisions, if you allow near and dear ones to help you, you will find a source of energy that will launch you on your journey of transformation.

Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became the national anthem of the United States while trapped on a ship in the war of 1812.

Viktor Frankl refined his psychologies of meaning and suffering during his ordeal in three Nazi concentration camps.

The author Ian Fleming was on bed rest and, per doctors order, forbidden from using a typewriter. They were worried he'd exert himself by writing another Bond novel. So he created 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' by hand instead.

Walt Disney made his decision to become a cartoonist while laid up after stepping on a rusty nail.


What many of us do when we fail or get ourselves into trouble is to get into a spiral of blame, self-depreciation, asking 'why did this happen to me' and useless overthinking and replaying of situations in our head. We don't use this time to analyse ourselves or to figure out what we need to do to improve ourselves. We often end up re-investing our energy into exactly the patterns of thought and behaviour that caused our problems in the first place.

I've done this many times. And enough other times I've had some beautiful people in my life who helped me break out of this negative spiral. These people have come into my life as angels and encouraged me to channelise the energy of being down and out into the hunger that that fuelled my transformation.

I'm writing this in the hope that wherever you are, whatever situation you are in, that you may find a few sparks in this letter that just fire up your hunger. May you find the energy you need to embark on your journey of transformation once again, and then again... for life is nothing but a series of transformations!

Do you sense a transformation around the corner in your life?

Sending energy, and feeling gratitude