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Getting out of the B.O.X in life

Before I learned the art and science of professional coaching, I was a master adviser giver. I remember from a young age, my friends would turn to me for advice in relationship matters, moral dilemmas, career choices, etc. and guess what, I always had an answer.

One of the clichés that I employed in helping my friends was, “listen to your heart”. It was like magic, it gave wings to their decisions. And I always wondered how come those words have so much power on people. I feel ‘Listen to Your heart’ has similar powers like ‘I love You’.

So how do you listen to your heart? Definitely the stethoscope is the answer if you want to listen to your beating heart, which is unique to every individual, just like our fingerprint or retina.

That is fascinating information. The heart beat is based on the size, shape and the orientation of the valves. Our heart as an organ is incredible.

However when it comes to listening to your heart from a psychological point of view, we need a ‘Stethoscope’ that can amplify the hidden secrets of not only our conscious mind, but the inner subconscious mind, the seat of our dreams and potential.

Definitely the knowledge that our heart beats are unique is another proof of concept that each individual is unique and each of us has the potential to greatness. This also should further inspire us to strive harder to listen to our heart and do things that will enable us to tap into our potential and become the best version of ourselves.

The Eternal War: Ought vs. Need vs. Want

Now the power of listening to your heart is built into the fact that when we are able to get in touch with our true self, that is our subconscious self, we are able to really see what we want. For this level of self awareness and honesty we have to understand the difference between three simple words that have a big impact on our decision and our life experience.


The word Ought is used to indicate correctness or obligation. Which is similar to the word should. Meaning, whenever we speak from a place of ‘Ought to’, it implies that it is correct, but the perplexing question is by whose standard is it correct?

Try this out, fill in the blank with a decision you are contemplating to make

I Ought to get me ____________

I Want to get me _____________

I Need to get me _____________

If done correctly, under the right self awareness conditions, you will be able to immediately feel the difference in how each of the sentences read into your life.

The Ought conditions in life are generally given to us by our childhood conditioning, there is nothing wrong with having a set of conditions (i.e. pre-established correctness) to live by, especially if those conditions improve the quality of our life and enable us to our potential.

But the trouble is when life doesn't happen according to the pre-established correctness, the fall out is two fold,

one, when the check list of ‘ought to’ in life is complete, the person goes blank and feels empty, not knowing what next.

and two, when in uncharted waters (i.e. no reference or conditions) the person feels miserable of the reality and is unable to (emotionally) adapt, because they are stuck on what ought to be.

A classic situation (maybe not the best example, but this will do) is the stress parents feel when their children don't get married at a socially accepted time. And the ‘ought to’ meet the deadline emotion delivers poor half baked choices, that creates a lifetime of misery for everyone.


A need is defined as ‘requiring something because it is essential’. It is a little tricky to differentiate the ‘Need and Ought’ in our lives, because many of our needs are derived from the ‘Ought’.

Nevertheless, one salient characteristic of need is that it is a requirement for the minimum functioning of a person based on where they are at life, and where they are geographically.

If you recollect, buying a car, up until recently, was considered a luxury item in India. Interestingly for some, cars have become a need to function in life, but there are others for whom it is an ‘ought to’ be socially correct. Then there are the few, for whom it is a want, which moves them closer to their potential.


The answer to listening to our heart is understanding our ‘want’. A want is a desire to have. Which means, it is not essential for your survival, but it is essential for thriving. That is the beauty of it.

Now you might be wondering, isn't ‘want’ a bad thing, because greed is birthed from want. True, absolutely true, greedy is birthed from untamed want.

Think about it like this, all the domestic animals that add value to life today were once wild animals. And when they were tamed to enable human advancement, they became pivotal in the evolution of our civilization.

Likewise, once we learn to tame our want, using need and ought as reference points to build on our potential and purpose. Leveraging our ‘want’ will open our ears to listen to our heart.

The most meaningful ‘wants’ are the ones connected to one's values, purpose or passion, and it will give a meaningful answer to the question why and how?

So test your wants against these two questions, Why you want it, and How can you get it. And if your answers align to your values, purpose or passion in life, you can be sure you are listening to your heart.

You might hear people around you tell you it is impossible to listen to your heart all the time. I agree, life is complex, but remember, impossible is an opinion.

Impossible is an Opinion

When you really think about the word impossible, have you wondered where it has come from. I know this sounds very judgmental and condensing, but one interpretation is, the word impossible comes from the lesser human trying to enforce their authority over you and restrict you from trying, because they neither had the vision for it nor had the courage to pursue it.

Think about it, Impossible is a word that sometimes is used as a scientific fact, but is it really so? People speak with so much conviction, just like gravity.

But when we really think about it and look into our world through the lens of what we as a human species have achieved, then we can see that every great achievement of humanity was impossible!

The Moon Walk

The Airplane

The Vaccines

The Mobile Phone

The Internet

And so much more

Without a grain of doubt, I can say and you can be certain about it, when we look into our own life , each achievement is always preceded with the word impossible for someone other than the person who achieved it.

There are many great trend setters in the world, one person I really admire is Elon Musk. I still don't know much about him as a person, but from a far, one aurora that he radiates is,

He Dares To Dream and He Dares to Bleed for it.

My friend and mentor John C Maxwell, who is world's leading expert on personal growth and leadership, has this to say about the word impossible.

"Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing." —John C. Maxwell

To understand the true power of the statement, impossible is an opinion, all you got to do is take a moment to look into your own life, look back to a time, you made something impossible possible!

Once you have that image or memory anchored in your mind, feel your memory and observe how your body reacts and how you feel. I can bet, you are feeling life Superman or wonder women right now. You might be feeling the same feeling Neil Armstrong felt when he took the first step on the moon or how Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing felt on top of mount Everest.

All I want to draw is your attention to the fact that, the minute we accept that impossible is a fact, we immediately create a framework for our life around it. Then every thought, feeling and decision is made within that framework or box.

But if you are willing to entertain the possibility that Impossible is just an opinion, then that box will start to expand and the boundaries on which your life is built on now will start disappearing, and it will open up a life you have not even dreamt of yet, and gradually you will feel like this is what your heart was telling you all while.

Moving from impossible as fact to opinion, is not an easy process, but here are some thoughts that might help in the process. I call it getting out of the B.O.X

B for belief

Believe you have a purpose. We all speak about purpose, but many times in my interaction with people, I have noticed that people are generous when it comes to believing in other people’s purpose but are stingy when it comes to entertaining that they also have a purpose.

Here I am not implying about the ‘Belief in your purpose’ that is a topic for another time, but all I am saying is, believe you have a purpose beyond the walls you can see that you call your life.

Now I know for some people ‘having a purpose’ may not be an acceptable way of thinking about life. I respect your point of view, but as for me, I feel empty living a life with no purpose, because purpose is an instrument that brings meaning to my life.

O for Original

Embrace your Originality. If your heart has a rhythm that is unique to you. Then that means you are one of a kind, you are an original!. It's not only a belief that I am unique and I have purpose, rather, it is a scientific fact that I am unique, now what you do with that uniqueness is precisely up to you.

How you plan to embrace the uniqueness is your choice, and no one can make it for you, so stop letting your oughts' & needs stop you from being original.

Remember this, the problem or challenge you face in your life today is an outcome of your originality. Meaning, no one else's solution is going to solve it for you, only you have the original key that can help you live beyond the limitation of the box you are in today.

So embrace your originality to overcome the limitations and live a fulfilled life by listening to your heart.

X for aXe

Axe the naysayers from your life. The more you surround yourself with naysayers, the lower the chance that you will ever leave the box, it is toxic and discouraging.

Probably you remember your parents telling you not to hang out with certain kids because they are a bad influence (unfortunately many times it was from a place of prejudice). However it doesn't invalidate the fact that our company matters. Not to be judgmental of people, but some people are just not good for you, they are not bad people, they just have box thinking and they will keep you locked in it.

This WhatsApp forward I received captures the essence of company matters,

Sit for 10 mins before sadhus & sanyasis - you will feel like gifting away everything in charity.

Sit for 10 mins before a politician - you will feel all your studies are useless.

Sit for 10 mins before a life insurance agent - you will feel that it is better to die.

Sit for 10 mins before traders - you will feel your earnings are too meager.

Sit for 10 mins before scientists - you will feel the enormity of your own ignorance.

Sit for 10 mins before good teachers - you will feel like wanting to become a student again.

Sit for 10 mins before a farmer or a worker - you will feel you are not working hard enough.

Sit for 10 mins before a soldier - you will feel your own services & sacrifices are insignificant.

There is humor and sarcasm in the forward, but I hope you can take the message of how important company matters. So if you want to get out of the box, you will have to axe the naysayers in your life. I am not saying it is necessary to hate or cut them off, rather, be wise in taking advice from them or spending all your time with them.

I encourage you to celebrate the fact that you are unique in your existence on this earth, and live your life to your full potential by getting out of the box!

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