I only started loving math in Grade 11. Up until then it came pretty easy to me so I did not give it much thought. Professor Halthoria was a slim gentleman. He was always dressed in a slick suit with hair combed back. His innate intensity made the uninterested shudder and the enthusiastic focused. You met him once and you knew he was a genius. His son, a junior, was a math prodigy. The ‘reciting cube roots accurate to the 13th decimal faster than a calculator’ kind of prodigy. The professor brought math alive for me. I still remember him taking us down to the playing field to show us how to draw an ellipse with two pegs and some rope.
Despite how he taught math, it was his other comments that have stuck with me for life. The professor was as great a philosopher as he was a math teacher. So much of his daily monologue included intellectual quotes and words of wisdom. He uttered a mantra once that struck a chord with me and to this day I continue to follow.
He said: “To be successful in life one must adopt the 3D mantra. Determination. Dedication. Devotion.”
As a kid I didn’t understand what this meant until I started internalizing the principles in daily life as an adult.
The 3D Mantra unlocked: Transform your life
On observing successful people it is clear that they are all goal oriented. They set up goals for themselves and then embark to achieve them (more on how to do this in another post). A critical first step to success is goal setting. Check out S.M.A.R.T Goals to start.
When you look at the 3D mantra know that you can apply it to anything you do in life. From a new goal you set for yourself, to a side project to life in general. Let’s now look at the 3 D’s:
(Definition: firmness of purpose Synonyms: Willpower, Perseverance)
Consider a car. A car needs fuel to keep it moving. That fuel helps it go over pot holed roads, speed breakers and to travel long distances. Determination is your personal fuel. To be successful in life you need to start harnessing this fuel for the long journey. One way you can do this is through the process of repetition. What this means is if you fail, don’t give up. Pick up the pieces and try again. Do this over time in different areas of your life and you will start building resolve.
Have you read the story of the camel trader in babylon (from the book The Richest Man In Babylon)? In this tale Dabasir (the camel trader) found his soul when he realized a great truth. This truth has led people out of difficulties. The truth revealed in the book is this: “Where the Determination Is, the Way Can be Found.”
Use the power of repetition as a fuel to build your determination.
(Definition: the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task or purpose, Synonyms: Commitment, Diligence)
A personal favourite story of mine is Jadav Payeng’s dedication to single-handedly plant the Molai forest. The forest is now larger than Central Park in NYC. This took him over 30 years to do. There are a few lessons to be learned from this story:
- It is time consuming: It took Jadav 30 years to realize his dream. Recognize that dedication is a marathon not a sprint. Question: Break down large goals into bite sized tasks. How does one eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time.
- Make it personal: Want to be dedicated? Then make it personal. Whether it be work or a side project you need to make it part of your DNA.
- Protect your work with ferocity but don’t create barriers: When Jadav met the photographer he presumed that he was a poacher and tried to fight him off. When he learned he was wrong he invited him in. As you grow in dedication it is natural for walls to start building up. Don’t create barriers out of these walls.
- Seek outside help: While dedication is an individual trait, I advise you to not make it a solo mission. Jadav, for example, needs his family to help him prepare for the day. He needs a boatman to ferry him to his forest. Don’t be afraid to seek help.
Find your inner Jadav.
(Definition: religious worship or observance Synonyms: Piety, Spirituality)
Devotion has two meanings: religious worship and loyalty. I (and my professor) have chosen devotion to represent religious worship. At this point there could be several (atheists, anti-theists, agnostics, skeptics etc.) reading this. You are free to stop here and head to the comments section :). For the others read on.
I take devotion to represent the act of bringing spirituality into your daily life. You can do this through daily prayer. I am no preacher but I have spoken to hundreds of successful people who make prayer a part of their daily routine. It doesn’t matter what religion you follow. Make prayer a daily ritual. Apart from peace of mind there are several side benefits to being prayerful. A clear decision on how to handle difficult situations perhaps or finding a path when one isn’t defined. The list is endless. Don’t take my word for it. Try it out and you will see yourself change.
The 3D mantra has transformed my life all thanks to my Grade 11 math professor. I can’t help but think about Mr. Halthorai. I wonder where he is today. I wonder whether his students are taking his nuggets of wisdom and using it to transform their lives. Will you use it to improve yours?