Why ‘Stronger with Rakesh Shukla’™ is not just more self help psychobabble.

Life is a complex journey and growing up is a painful process — one that many times leaves us feeling unfulfilled and with emotional aches and pains. We feel the need for help. From the time of Dale Carnegie and Steven Covey truths about human behavior, personal effectiveness and relationships have been captured and distributed for us to help us become better. 

Today there are a variety of ideas and opinions available as ‘self help’. We believe that the trials and tribulations of a person who is communicating these have been similar or more severe than ours. Over these experiences they have developed a philosophy and a tool-set they share with us to make ours better. Well what if it doesn’t? 

The Pop Psychology of ‘Self Motivation’

I never grew up wanting to develop a philosophy of becoming strong in mind and body. I grew up to be an engineer, do an MBA, have a great career and became a successful entrepreneur. Over this journey I was exposed to a few leading speakers and programs. I was in my first year MBA when one of India’s motivational superstars came to our campus. You felt lifted and somehow you thought things are going to be different. But in a few days everything was just as it was. I still see him on YouTube. He is a bigger superstar but 25 years later he still says more or less the same things while the reality around us has changed. Do people really change when they hear or read someone? Do you need more self help? Here’s some things you need to know no matter what kind of ‘self help’ you choose. 

I attended a few more 2-3 full-day programs over the last 2 decades – they were part of planned management growth in the companies that I worked at the time. I noticed the same things. In a few days everything was just as it was — not just for me for pretty much everyone. If I ask an attendee today what they took away from the program 20 years ago they might recall an epiphany. If I ask them what they did with it over the next 20 years I don’t really get any responses. That is the gap and there are some other commonalities:

  • Mass customization: Most programs are run by mega Indian or multinational corporations who have developed this ‘method’ they teach to hundreds of thousands of people each year.  With a ‘teacher’ who has changed the life of millions and when you’re in the company of thousands you feel you are a part of a transformational experience. Most people will agree with me that when they attend a well put together seminar it feels something like a life-changing experience because their life journey finds a resonance in what has been said. But it was not just theirs – everyone’s did. 
  • Propagating a borrowed belief system: Each of the teachers has a belief system that more or less focuses on self-mastery, believing in yourself, taking control of your lives, managing your emotions.  These insights seem to be born out of either deeply personal experience or out of deep research as a professional psychologist or a trained therapist. Mostly none of these cases are true. 
  • Simple and clear action is missing: Workshops and books exhort you to make a different life and you do get some clarity on what you need to change. But how? The specific method on how you could bring about a massive personality shift is not easy to develop or deliver. Without specific steps no matter how powerful this belief system has been developed there is little chance of actually living a different life. 
  • Designed to be cult-like: The programs I have attended had a certain cult-like feel. Once over 1 or 2 days it is established that you are having a ‘breakthrough’ experience it is followed by a tremendous amount of indoctrination. As a good cult member you are expected to ‘spread the word’. As it happens some of the same people who came looking for breakthroughs now line to become the proponent. It is almost like a pseudo religious experience. 
  • Simplistic focus on removing negativity with positivity: For a reader or attendee it is easy to identify yourself with the negative feelings that the program talks about — but that association is no breakthrough. What you do with them is. Most of the teachings focus on replacing this negativity with positivity. But the reality of life is you can’t simply replace stress & sadness with gratitude & love. Besides avoidance of unpleasant emotions creates a psychological backlash and you’re less likely to feel confident about your life story.

Rely on yourself not on psychobabble

Indeed you don’t have to attend my seminar or anyone else’s. In the first place I urge you to focus on staying with the negative emotion and thinking through ‘why’ till you begin to understand yourself. Examining yourself will reveal the forces that shape your life  & the beliefs that dictate your behavior. Staying with negative emotions is actually a sign of emotional well-being. Just this self awareness will have a profound impact on you. Second learning and doing are two very different things. Small modifications to your thinking and routines can help you implement the change and move in the direction you want. For anyone looking for ‘self help’ it is easy to fall into the trap of consumption without action. You can read dozens of books and attend scores of seminars but unless you have a system to implement what you have found they have no meaning. 

With my education, experience and drive when I went into free-fall 5 years ago — it was a dark, life changing experience. I clutched at every branch of the tree I fell from, on my way down and then on the way up. But someone else’s self help philosophy was not one of them. I know from my own experience that change is not easy, but it can be made. My writing shares my first person experiences with specific manageable steps that will allow you to take control of the narrative you create for yourself and create a meaningful life. 

Stronger with RAKESH SHUKLA™ is a framework for developing unparalleled Mental & Physical toughness developed over Rakesh’s life. It has driven 2 comebacks.

Rakesh Shukla has slept on railway platforms on his way to creating a world-leading technology company — TWB which is the choice of over 40 Fortune 500 tech customers worldwide including Microsoft, Boeing, Airbus, Intel and others. At 43, over one year he lost everything. Alone & friendless he spent the next 5 years repaying over INR 20 crores of debt & taxes, building back his company and reputation. While creating & funding VOSD the world’s largest dog sanctuary & rescue.

Rakesh Shukla has suffered heart disease since he was 7 yrs old, had had 2 heart attacks by the time he was 30, suffers from brain diseases, has broken his back and his kidneys are failing. Towards the end of this 5 year period, Rakesh was 88kg in weight and very unfit. Today at 48 yrs he can lift well over 100kg above his head, run a 10-minute mile, do 2000 push-ups or 250 pulls ups. He has never been to a gym, been on a diet, had a trainer or taken any supplements.