Episode 15- Stress
Ravi: Welcome to episode number 15 of Spontaneous Conversations, this is Ravi Gundlapalli, CEO of MentorCloud.
Rajesh: And this is Rajesh Setty, I’m a serial entrepreneur in the Bay Area.
Ravi: OK, from the past episode, we talked about a fun topic and I want to talk about any topic that could be fun. We selected the topic of stress.
Rajesh: Yeah, I think in the Bay Area there is an oversupply of stress if you’re think about it. So, I’ll tell you just from an entrepreneurial standpoint, why stress happens is because you look around, it’s in the air; everybody’s starting a company. And look at the newspapers, everybody’s a success story out there. Three months ago they started a company that got snapped up by a bigger company. Something else happened; they got valued at two hundred million, and they’re now selling racing series B. It almost looks like if they can do it, I can do it.
Ravi: It’s almost like everybody’s having an awesome life. And, in fact, you know, Facebook again, it also kinds of amplifies this phenomena. Like somebody is having an ice-cream, but two hours before they would have had some argument with somebody, but all you know is they had ice-cream, they went on a vacation, there’s somebody who is telling them happy birthday, so you see snapshots of life of other people and think that that’s what they do all the time. And you think, oh my God, it’s nothing exciting. So, you are now kind of forced to add on an event that shows joy, and that actually adds stress in opinion, because you are under pressure to show something when everybody else is adding some fun topics. But the reality is that’s only a sliver of their entire day. And…
Rajesh: Yeah, I am guilty of Ravi, because if you don’t look at the news and the social networks with the right perspectives. So, news, because I was a journalist before; news is a collection of exceptional items, exceptions, so always a collection of exceptions. Because if it is not well … [crosstalk 2:19]
Ravi: There is no news. [Laughs] …that’s a good way to look at it. Yeah.
Rajesh: …social networks are a collection of a series of fortunate events that makes the best version of you being displayed again and again. Look, look, I’m here, that kind of thing. So once I did a collection of exceptions and the other side of the series of fortunate events in people’s lives. Masking the roller coaster ride that happens in reality because it never gets reported in the news and all the real life that is happening — because nobody will volunteer that information saying, “today a date and I had an argument, and 11 AM, I had another argument; and 1:00 PM, believe it or not, it was like the mother of all arguments, and my life is full of arguments. Who will say it?
Ravi: Right, and 6:00 o’clock, I showed a picture of a beautiful ice cream cake that I’m having with my friends. And that picture goes promptly on Facebook or Instagram, and everybody’s thinking that’s…
Rajesh: …is what is life.
Ravi: It’s what is life. So, again, I think the point that we are both making in this candidate conversation, is that stress in today’s world is really caused by everything around us. It’s not coming from within. We are forced to look at so many things, and then kind of relate to ourselves that caused that imbalance. And I’m reminded of a definition by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who’s the founder of Art of Living, who define stress as the stage in which you are out of sync with your surroundings. So, he said the definition resurrected me so beautifully because like let’s say you go to a new place and you don’t, it’s too hot.
It’s… people are like not as clean as you expect them to be. Things are not the way you expect them to be. You can actually be in a lot of stress. I know many people who go back to India after several years, they’re so stressed out, but whereas, if you somehow kind of resonate with the surroundings that you accept that you are right now here, you can actually have a fantastic time. So, the example that you started with being in Silicon Valley, if you can find a way to be in sync with your surroundings, there is no stress.
Rajesh: Yeah. The second thing that might happen, Ravi, is basically if your expectations are way out of sync with the capacity for you to reach those expectations. So if you think that, , there are three startups that were in the blockbuster hits; and because they were all your classmates and you can also do it, you don’t know what they were doing when you were watching movies or anywhere on Facebook, what those three entrepreneurs were doing, because that is below the surface. That never shows up. Like I always say, the public [inaudible 05:39] were preceded by relentless private practice.
Ravi: Very good public [inaudible 05:41] were proceeded by relentless private practice. Yeah, they’re all looking high. And when somebody just suddenly walk into the door and say I wanna buy your company…[inaudible 05:49], but we kind of don’t give that much importance as much as we give to the end outcome. [ringing sound 05:55].
Rajesh: Correct. So, if you think through that, you’d think that what they got is what you should also get, without paying the price of what they paid, but they want it easy. Then it’s a surefire recipe for tremendous stress.
Ravi: Right, so I think looking at news, which is a series of exceptional events. Looking at a snapshot of other events that are going on around you; and having high expectations that may not be suitable to your capabilities and where you are in your career, can all kinda lead to stress. So, Rajeesh, let’s spend a few minutes on. So, we’re both agreeing that it’s a part of life. So how does one handle it?
Rajesh: Yeah, first of all, the right kind of stress, you should welcome it and for me, the right kind of stress is doing things that are slightly above your capacity so that your are strectching your mental muscles, and all those things so that you are growing. But if you are complacent, and, and have zero stress, that you are very happy doing exactly what you want, and life is moving on. That might also be a problem. So you to welcome the right kind of stress where you say, “I need to grow, I need to catch up to the next level, so that I’m growing.” Second, is to view the outside world with the right lens. Like we talked about news, and exceptions, and fortunate events, and social networks. Third, if for some reason the expectations don’t match the reality, then the only first thing that you have to look at is your own capacity.
Rajesh: Right? Your capacity is a loaded word because it includes your capacity, like personal capacity, and the capacity that comes from reciprocation from the network that you have built. Not the network’s capacity, but only part of it which could be reciprocated back to you at the right moment.
Ravi: Mmm so, you’re kind of defining sort of the conditions of, I mean, how would I best summarize it? [crosstalk 8:23]. There are three things, just so that the listeners understand those three aspects.
Rajesh: Yeah. When is welcome the right kind of stress? Right so, there’s… [crosstalk 08:30]
Ravi: Probably, yeah, welcome the right…OK, right kind of stress.
Rajesh: Second, is the right perspective to watch the news and social networks because that is where you’re consuming content. Third thing is always reflect on your capacity of… your personal capacity and the capacity that is brought to you by the power of reciprocation from the network that you have built. So that’s your total capacity. And if the catheter is not enough rather than expecting to change the outcomes, which can only be influenced by your capacity, which is in your control, you start looking at how do I build a capacity? Which is your personal strengths, and contribution to the network so that the reciprocal power increases.
Ravi: Mmm, so you’re essentially kind of leading to this handling of stress with having a completely different perspective, and also taking action because just being stressed about the fact that you didn’t get the job that you’re expecting or the result that you were expecting; just thinking about it and kind of worrying about it is not going to change the result. It’s only going to make you feel even more low. So, one of the ways is to really, really quickly reflect on why there was a discrepancy between the expectation and the result and really do the right things, so that the next action that you’re taking, there is a lot more alignment with what you’re expecting, and the outcome.
Rajesh: Yes see, there is an upside for the right kind of stress. There is really no upside for the wrong kind of stress because if you are stressed out for the wrong reason, you are basically — what they’re doing is you’re getting a license, but in action.
Ravi: Yeah, I think, , I want to double-click on the word action because to get out of stress, you have to take action and some actions that come to mind is having a very pleasant conversation with somebody who doesn’t deny your stress. First of all, if somebody says, oh, your stress is absolutely meaningless, that can actually stress you even more. So, one of the ways that I encourage people is when somebody comes to you with a problem, first acknowledge it. You know, just first of all, receive it. So, that person feels that, OK, this person has received it. And then you kind of give them a different perspective and open a new world to them. The way they are thinking, the way they’re acting, the way they are approaching a particular problem. So that other person feels more comfortable. So the best way to reduce stress is to have conversations with good people. And I highly encourage everybody to have, on their phone book three or four people that they can talk to, who not only just acknowledge the stress but are able to help you out.
Rajesh: Hmm. I may not be saying it right? Paraphrasing a quote from Albert Einstein. He said, the problems that you’re creating at this level cannot be solved by the thinking at this level. So, which means that you have to have a higher level conversations like with a mentor or someone who can, not only understand the problem, but bring a fresh perspective.
Ravi: Exactly, because one of the ways you can get into sort of a vicious cycle is you go talk to somebody about the stress, that other person is also stressed and it kind of creates a very bad vicious loop, that now both of you are angry, both of you are dejected. So that’s why I want to highlight the point is that you do want some sort of stress relievers. It definitely… excellent conversation with people that can always understand, that know who you are and who recognize that the stress you’re feeling is very transitional. That’s the key.
Rajesh: Totally agreed. See, the stress that leads to sympathy extends [inaudible 12:34]… with my boss. So, my boss is a jerk Ravi, I mean I tried to explain to him, he don’t understand and you start saying Rajeesh, I totally feel for you, because my boss is also a jerk. And I tell you, he’s not exactly the same kind of jerk, he’s the color blue and mine is color purple.
Ravi: Correct. You’re just acknowledging the stress, but you’re, you’re not giving a solution.
Rajesh: Correct. And also, if somebody is going down because of stress, hitting him on the head, will not make him get up. They are looking for a hand that lifts them. They’re not looking for a leg that kicks them.
Ravi: Yeah. So, I think we talked about conversations as a way because we said stress is bound to happen in today’s world because of external influences, and our own unmatched expectations and outcomes. So, we talked about conversations as one way to alleviate stress. And other is maybe taking a nice walk in the park or listening to good music or even, you know, meditation Rajeesh, you’re a big meditator. Why don’t you share your perspectives on how meditation helps you calm down.
Raj: Yeah. See, I also meditate, and I also listen to music, which is the [inaudible 13:59] music. Both of them will bring down the chatter in the brain. Because we’re always running some movies in the brain that sometimes if it is a bad movie, rather than moving it to the trash-can, we read them again, and again? Look, you should not have told me that. Oh my God, that’s really bad. How could they say this? [inaudible 14:24]. Keep on repeating it, only making it worse. Meditation, and listening to the right music, both of them will tone down on both of the chatter, and it’ll slow you down so that you are calmer, when they finish that session. Plus what has worked for me very well, Ravi, if you look back in your history, do you have any stress, grievance? That’s a rhetorical question. You said yes. At that time they were very stressful, isn’t it? When you look back now, don’t you feel that you should, as you are almost feel many times that maybe you over-reacted to it? That you could have handled it better. So that is the reaction I get from many, many people when they look back at historical stressful events, right? So, if that is the case, why not sort of mimic that in the mind and saying, fast forward 10 years from now, if I look back today, what do you think I’ll be feeling about the stress that is happening today. Will that be the same as what I’m feeling now?
Ravi: Correct. It could just be one of those transitional events in life. In fact, Mark Twain has a very interesting quote. He said, “99 percent of things that I worried about never happened,” which is the true of life. So, two things, again, in closing about this, looking at the past stresses as a way to handle the current one. The first is you should feel so good that you overcame the situation and you are here today. If you did not, you would be in the situation. There’s something you did that got you out of it and you’re successful, you’re probably more wealthy, and more healthy and more happier, right? So you can always reflect on, oh, I kind of overcame that. I can overcome this one also.. And, second thing is that this is also a transition phenomenon, that the fact that knowing that this transitional also can kind of calm you down. And so that’s what I just want to end my comments, saying that the stress is here but make it as short-lived as you can.
Rajesh: Yes. I have two things to comment. Closing comments. One is if I ask people, where were their biggest spurts of growth, what happened, what did they do? They always tell me a challenge that they were facing and how they overcame them, right? Because that’s where the biggest growth happened.
Ravi: Right, and what is it? Break throughs follow breakdowns.
Rajesh: Right beautifully said. So, if that is true, then why not bring that perspective that this might be a growth spurt. God has given us the opportunity to grow; he’s put that challenge in front of me. And then why not capitalize on it, that is one. Second, I have a small note in my workplace; it’s a very small sentence—“I am here. where next?” And if I keep thinking about it, I will situate myself very quickly, whatever be the situation and first acknowledge that I here. This is happening and it is not a dream, and I acknowledge that this is happening, I’m in this situation. The next two words, “where next,” put me in the mode of possibilities.
Ravi: Or some action.
Rajesh: Yes, because I have to say something, next will be make that phone call.
Ravi: Excellent. Rajesh, I think this is a very important topic and I’m sure we touched upon some attributes of how stress comes, and some examples of things that they can do to make that stress be as short as possible. So, with that, I hope your listeners will provide us feedback on this Spontaneous Conversations. Signing off Ravi Gundlapalli, founder, CEO of Metercloud.
Rajesh: And this is Rajeesh Setty, you can read more about me on my blog, Rajeesh Setty dot com slash blog.
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