“Neo, you take the blue pill… the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill… you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
- Morpheus, The Matrix.
Neo chooses the red pill and joins the rebellion.
Many of you may recall this iconic scene from the 90s blockbuster by the Wachowski sisters (formerly known as the Wachowski brothers). It was a defining moment for Neo (Keanu Reeves).
I’m overwhelmed with appreciation from colleagues for my previous introductory article about our upcoming course, “High VOLTage Learning!” Thank you all for your constant inspiration. Your questions and comments have been numerous and thought-provoking. Here are a few examples:
“Why do only a few become outstanding surgeons when everyone is equipped with tools, time, and training?”
“I want to learn more, but I’m already so busy. Where can I find the time?”
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we can perform only one or two emergency surgeries out of 800. How can we learn anything at all?”
“Is it necessary to learn all 800 surgeries? Can’t I focus on just one field?”
To the last question: Follow your heart and interests. The essence of our course, “High VOLTage Learning,” is to make you excellent surgeons in your chosen field. To the other questions, I say, “Take that red pill.” The blue pill symbolizes an artificial reality of negativity or mediocrity. The red pill allows us to escape into a world of positivity and excellence. It’s about making a decision to take the red pill and freeing ourselves from the shackles of false beliefs.
What is real is the God-created beautiful universe and our physical existence within it. The rest is artificially constructed around us. When we’re born, our parents give us a name and a religion. Society assigns us an identity. Our country gives us nationality. Schools impart knowledge. We either create jobs for ourselves or work for others.
Similarly, many don’t become good surgeons due to an artificial negative aura created by themselves or others. It’s common to hear discouraging remarks like, “It’s a difficult surgery,” “The complications are high,” or “That’s not the right way.” These negative statements, often subtle and disguised as advice, can be paralyzing. Social media has amplified this negativity (which, regrettably, I’ve also contributed to in the past, and for that, I apologize). These disempowering comments can leave lasting scars, especially on residents or postgraduates.
Steve Jobs, a great visionary and entrepreneur, once said, “Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. That is—everything around us that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” We can change our reality by refusing to go with the flow and by questioning false beliefs. Vishen Lakhiani, a top motivational speaker, calls these self-defeating rules ‘brules’ – a blend of ‘bullshit’ and ‘rules.’ He says, “We know intellectually that change is possible, yet billions of us cling to outdated, self-defeating rules that have no place in today’s world, as technology, society, and human consciousness have evolved beyond them.“
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Steve Jobs, in his address to Stanford University graduates, advised, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” We can’t stop others from commenting on us, but we can control our reactions. Dr. Robert Resnick, a psychotherapist from Los Angeles, has a simple equation to illustrate this:
E + R = Outcome
We have the power to choose our response. We can either blame the event (E) for our lack of desired outcomes (O), or we can change our responses (R) to the events until we achieve what we want. If we’re not getting the results we desire, we need to change our approach. Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation, said, “If you can’t win, change the rules. If you can’t change the rules, ignore them.”
Another significant hurdle is underestimating ourselves and our capabilities. Many fail to explore their true potential due to self-defeating beliefs, which can become significant obstacles to achievement. We often recite self-deprecating beliefs:
“First a man takes a belief;
Then the belief takes more beliefs;
Then the beliefs take the man.”
(My apologies to Scott Fitzgerald).
Eventually, we become like Pavlov’s dogs, conditioned to self-defeating behaviors. Marisa Peer, a British hypnotherapist, calls this “The Biggest Disease Affecting Humanity.” Consumer psychologist Paul Marsden, Ph.D., describes it as, “we inherit and transmit behaviors, emotions, beliefs, and religions, not through rational choice but through contagion.” Mediocrity and underperformance are a form of social contagion.
However, these negative mindsets are also artificial. The silver lining in these dark clouds of self-defeating beliefs is that we can change them, and we can do it instantly. Studies by Charles Darwin, Yuval Noah Harari, and others have shown that humans are the most adaptable species on the planet. We adapt to extreme weather, new food habits (like McDonald’s and KFC), changing family and job circumstances, and even life partners previously unknown to us. We adapt to the ever-changing laws of nations. Similarly, we can instantly change our negative beliefs and adapt to new, empowering ones.
Some call this “Bending Reality.” Others refer to it as “Rewriting Your Destiny,” “Achieving Nirvana,” or “Reality Warping.” I simply call it ROAR! – an acronym for “Recreating Our Artificial Reality.” Just as we’ve created an artificial reality of negative beliefs around us, we can create a positive reality. We will teach the technique of ROAR in our upcoming online course, “High VOLTage Learning.”
To be an achiever, take that “Red Pill” and “ROAR.”
With best regards,
Prof. Dr. Prahlada N. B
03 October 2020