One simple idea to get things right

In his book The Checklist Manifesto, Boston based surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande mentions that failures occur due to the following reasons. The top three of them are:

  1. Lack of knowledge
  2. Lack of proficiency despite the knowledge
  3. Completely unforeseen circumstances.

But more than 90% of his best-selling selling book highlights the failure of the fourth kind. You may have complete knowledge about a subject, you may have gained enough fluency to be an expert and the task ahead of you is completely predictable and smooth. Yet you goof up, because you forgot a step by either not paying attention to it or because some other step distracted you. These are the mistakes that are the easiest to eliminate and yet they keep creeping up in our day-to-day work. In this post, we discuss why they occur and how to eliminate them.

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The one habit that enabled me to quit my job and become my own boss

Good habits are, often over a period of time, the difference between a roaring success and a crashing failure. Good habits make things possible by setting you in the right direction step by step instead of a whimsical leap of faith. But, there are often habits that once practised and reviewed, DO help you take that leap of faith! One such habit helped me quit my day job, eventually freeing up my time for working on the kind of projects that I had always wanted to work on and do things that I had always wanted to do without worrying about leaves. In this post, I help you discover what that habit is and how much it can liberate you to follow your long put-off dreams.

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How to eat an elephant!!

There is a very popular book by Bill Hogan named, ‘How Do You Eat an Elephant? One Bite at a Time!‘. While the idea of eating an elephant sounds very weird, the metaphor is spot on. The very idea of eating an elephant can overwhelm all our senses at once. However, instead of thinking about how we will ever finish a giant pachyderm in our lifetime, we will inch closer to success, just by thinking about how to eat the next bite. This applies to all our lofty challenges that we set for ourselves. Climbing the Everest, running an ultra-marathon, generating 7 figures of revenue in your business, speaking in front of an audience of 1000, you name it. The common thing about all these goals is that the moment we think about starting on it right now, it is way too overwhelming even just to think about it. So, how do we eat an elephant? Continue reading How to eat an elephant!!

Getting makers and managers to work together

Imagine this scene from your childhood. You have just built yourself two LEGO battle tankers. You are sprawled on the floor, firing imaginary shells into the air across the two tankers. You make noise as you fire … bang… crack! Your hero tanker has taken a few hits and is weak. Your enemy tanker is just two shells away from destruction. The suspense is building and you are totally in the zone, lining up your hero tanker’s barrel at the enemy tanker for two final shots.

But your mother calls you and says that lunch is ready. She is insistent that you eat it NOW! You say, ‘Just two minutes, mommy’. But she is adamant. She has a kitchen to clean up and dishes to do before she can start her next meal prep. You have to go RIGHT NOW or she will get angry. She reasons with you that you can have lunch and resume ‘LEGO tankers’. Sure you can do that. But you have been shaken off your zone — the total isolation of focus that gets you physically, mentally and emotionally involved in what you do.

In the modern nuclear family, your mom no longer tears you away from your zone. But, you are constantly ripped away from it by meetings, phone notifications, calls and people visiting your desk. In this post, let us talk about how workplaces should be designed around the two types of professional people: those who need to interact with others to get things done, i.e. the managers, and those who need isolation to work at their best, i.e. the makers.

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How to plug the ‘wiggle spaces’ in your daily rules

We all dream of achieving goals and basking in the glory after having achieved them. That world class product that sells like hot cakes, that Olympic athlete body, that dream holiday and so on. However, just rewind to the days which are spent in trying to work towards the goal and we will see days that are spent toiling, doing things that are boring and routine on a day-to-day basis, such as writing the product spec, writing 10 pages a day for a book draft, going to the gym to do 100 reps, eating only non-sugar, proteins, veggies and fruits. It requires a lot of focus and discipline to keep ourselves on track. Occasionally our minds will give in to the temptation of distractions. Ideally we would want to arrest the temptation and not follow the distraction. However the mind works in funny and contradictory ways and will instead find a convenient justification for the distraction, such that it fits within our goal rules! The book Switch by Dan and Chip Heath describes the potential for such contradictory behaviour as a ‘wiggle space’. Continue reading How to plug the ‘wiggle spaces’ in your daily rules

What I am overjoyed about after a year of marriage

On the 15th of April, my wife Priya and I celebrated our first marriage anniversary. We had a wonderful time at two beach resorts on the Konkan coast, Harihareshwar and Velneshwar. We got away from the crowd, enjoyed quality time alone, but we also got to do something that we hold very dear – quarterly reviews of the things that we want to achieve together and a reflective look at a year of marriage. We realised that both of us had learnt a lot from each other and each other’s families. I realised that a lot of key points had made our marriage so successful in the one year that seemed to rush by, my best year in life by far. Continue reading What I am overjoyed about after a year of marriage

What we can learn from Indian Railways

On the 16th of April 2016, the Indian Railways completed 163 years of service. I happened to see this accolade in Thane Railway station on a banner. Thane was the destination for the first ever railway train to run in India. From a rather small scale service running 30km from Mumbai (Bombay during those days) to Thane using a steam locomotive and 4 coaches, the Indian Railways has since evolved to become the biggest, busiest and the most used railway service in the world. What can we learn from the mega success story of the Indian Railways?

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Choosing your heroes

What does the term hero mean to me? For me, it represents a person I want to emulate. It is a person whose attributes I want to make a part of my life. It is a person whose life I want to study and learn lessons from, so that when I face a situation that he/she faced, I have an idea and an inspiration about what to do. There is generally an entire tribe of heroes that you follow as they inspire you at different ages, situations and fields. And since stories of heroes can directly affect your decisions in life, it is very important to choose your heroes based on who you want to be and the identity that you want to carve out for yourself.

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How a calendar trumps a to-do list to boost productivity

Ask yourself the question, “What activities do I want to complete today?”. You will most likely whip out a pen and paper to start listing all the things you want to get done today.

Hmm, so should I write the blog post for this week? What about my bathroom with its white tiles no longer looking white? Oh, I am out of sugar and unless I buy it, I cannot have tea with sugar this evening. That reminds me, I am out of milk too. I have to get it if I want to avoid having last-minute black tea. Okay, so in summary, I must write the blog post, clean the bathroom and buy milk and sugar. Okay, my to-do list is nicely mapped with a list of things I want to achieve today. Good job! Okay, let’s check Facebook now for just 10 minutes. Then I will get to my to-do list.

Soon, I realise that my Facebook checking has gone on for a couple of hours, followed by a link in one of the posts which took me on an endless spiral of hyperlink-chasing until…… tea time!!! Oops, I want tea and I don’t have sugar and milk. Goddammit, not bitter black tea again!!! I knew it… I need something better than just a to-do list to keep me focused!

There is something better. A calendar.

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I learnt about: Cooling off in summer without an air-conditioner

Summer is taking its toll here in Mumbai and all over India. Sultry nights are keeping people awake and the flow from the ceiling fan is never enough to cool down the ambient temperature. If at all, the fan seems to circulate a warm flow at the peak of summer. I, for one, found my bed too warm to sleep on. Everyone was turning their attention towards keeping cool and investing a lot on air-conditioners, coolers and the like. But I and Priya, my wife, found a better and a less expensive way to keep our home cool this summer.

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