Appreciating my sparring partners

article on sparring partners

In January 2022, I was at my worst health phase; it was the lowest point of my life. I had returned from Chicago, had a six-month reverse culture shock and rehaul of life as I had known it (and this had little to do with Covid), had not taken care of myself – either mentally, emotionally, or physically. What I needed was a sense of routine and stability, a return to normalcy.

I had downloaded the Step Set Go app, hoping that the reward system it offered would motivate me to go walk everyday. My friend, Ashutosh Singh, was also a user on the app, and one day we made a pact. Every week, starting Monday morning till Sunday night, we would compete on who had the most steps in. The loser would send the winner a juice / coconut water as a reward. 

What a fabulous trick that was. Everyday, for weeks, I would put on my shoes, grab my phone, put on my earphones, and start walking in the building. Covid was still there, the threat of the Omicron variant more present, so I did not venture further. I did not win most of the time; but I found joy and pleasure in this competition. Some weeks when we were neck-to-neck, the app would turn into a live action match between 9 pm to 11 pm, both of us, in our own respective worlds, walking, the step counter putting him ahead sometimes, and then moments later me. We stopped competing by the time summer came, but those first few months were the push I really needed to build that discipline. 

I have had pacts and motivation partnerships (or sparring partners, as I would learn much later from SG in the context of building startups and businesses) with so many friends, and each such phase becoming the springboard from which I could jump a little higher, a little farther. 

With Gurshawn Singh, pharmacist exemplar, I had a pact in the same month, January 2022, to post regularly on social media for Purple Pencil Project. He was at the time building his own, Aruca Health, and needed that push to keep going consistently. We made a pact: If one of us did not post, the other one COULD not post. By shifting the burden of consequence, we ended up holding each other so accountable. We kept this on for a few months, after which our goals and circumstances changed. 

Both Ashu and Shawn help me understand the value of building something together, growing together, working towards your own goal, at your own pace, but always with a helping hand. 

Many months later, I remember feeling very lost while building P3 – demotivated to keep putting in the work without any immediate progress, feeling very lonely. I understand that that is the nature of building something. And when you don’t have instant gratification and that hit of dopamine (like the counter on Step Set Go, or how you feel after lifting weights), there is little that can keep you going. Motivation, discipline, and the will and courage to get out of your head and bed and get to action is SO. HARD. TO. COME. BY. To get up, to get to work, to get in the flow and the process of things. And to keep going every single day. 

After all, consistent action is hard, but the cost of consistence inaction is harder to pay.

A lot of success depends on planning for these days. And the most fool-proof plan is to build it together with someone – a friend, an acquaintance, a partner, a sibling. As long as they are as serious as you are, what they build and their relationship to you does not matter. 

This has been true every single time. We built consistency with The Screenwriting Club last year (and its return this year) because Siddhant and I were together in it. At Purple Pencil Project, we had our most clear and consistent two months when Karishma came on board to lead our vertical on books to screen adaptation. 

Three weeks ago, I entered a hot streak of writing for five days straight because I started a writing hour with my The Purple Corner community on WhatsApp. Even as I write this, I am on Day 2 of a 75 Day Challenge to do five things, and it is my friend Jonny keeping me accountable all the way from Seattle. (He will make me post an embarrassing picture of myself for every day that I miss. My tracker is shared with him. And the first thing he did after waking up today was ask me about my goals). 

Gurshawn and I have been joking (and also not joking) for over two years that we should build an app around this – around finding your working buddies, your sparring partners – and make the important things happen for you. Your cadence could be different, your goals could be poles apart, you could be building things that are the anti-thesis of each other. As long as you keep each other going, you will get there.

After all, consistent action is hard, but the cost of consistence inaction is harder to pay.

Want to talk more about it? Tweet to me @pramankapranam or email me at prakrut[at]purplepencilproject[dot]com