Why does the standard gauge in US have a distance of 143.5 cm or 4 ft 8 1/2 inches ?

It is not a whole number in either meters or feet…how did the engineers come up with this number.. what made this the standard in this standard gauge.

Let’s examine the reasons:

– Because that’s what it is in UK, who were the original Pioneer of the railways.  Ok. But why?
– Because that was the distance of the tram in Pre- rail road era. Ok. But why?

Apparently this is the average distance between the two wheels of a horse pulled carriage of the yester years. The engineers who were developing the rail system, for lack of any reference points took this to be the standard.

And do you know why a two wheel horse pulled carriage had this really odd wheel distance?

horsedrawn-carriage
horse drawn-carriage

Continue reading Why does the standard gauge in US have a distance of 143.5 cm or 4 ft 8 1/2 inches ?

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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iSpeak – From a Nervous Kid to a Competent Communicator

My First Speech:

The first time I gave a speech to an audience was when I was in School. It was an English Eloquence competition, although I had written good essays for a long time, I had never participated in a speech competition though. My main motivation to enroll in it was that there were only 4 participants including me and statistically I had a 75% chance of getting any prizes at all just for showing up.

Public Speaking
My First Speech

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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!!

The 15,500 ft view of life

The D-Day: Preparation and Training

It was the most important day for the batch 292 Basic.

It was the day for which we had all been rigorously training for the last 21 days, waking up at 4 AM to run uphill in the mall road of Darjeeling oblivious to the beauty of Kanchenjunga around , climbing and rappelling rocks, rigorous ice craft training, trekking up the hills of Sikkim with backpack weighing over 25 Kgs and camping at temperature sub zeroes.

Renok Peak Summit
At the Renok Peak Summit

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Are you a maker or a manager?

A lot of you can relate to this incident from 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 battle tankers, making shell noises… bang… crack!. Your hero tanker has taken a few hits and is weak and your enemy tanker is just two shells away from destruction. The suspense is building and you are totally in the zone, lining up your barrel at the enemy’s tanker for two final shots, when…. your mother calls you and says that lunch is ready and that you should eat it NOW! You say, ‘Just two minutes, mommy’. But she is adamant. You have to go RIGHT NOW or she will get angry. She reasons with you that you can always have lunch and go back to play, ‘LEGO tankers’.

But the point is that you have been shaken off your zone, that total isolation of focus that got you completely involved in whatever you were doing physically, mentally and emotionally. While it may not be your mom anymore, you are constantly ripped away from your zone by meetings, phone notifications and calls and visiting people. In this post, let us talk about what gets you in the zone in the first place and how you can keep yourself there. Continue reading Are you a maker or a manager?

Goal Setting – Process Vs Outcome

My Goals – Hits and Misses:

I love to set goals. I totally believe in the process of goal setting, although I don’t always achieve them. I looked back and saw a pattern on things I get done and things I don’t. The kind of Goals I set seemed to make a lot of difference in the ultimate outcome. My most important learning was about the process vs outcome.

Edwards Deming
Edwards Deming – Pioneer of Total Quality Management

American Vs. Japanese Goal Setting:

This can otherwise also be considered as the American Vs Japanese approach to goal setting. Americans have a very goal oriented approach and are focused on achieving the targets. The outcomes are binary, you either Win or Lose.

However, Japanese are a process oriented culture where they are keen on continuous improvement or Kaizen, the improvements are marginal and always have a scope for improvement.

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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

Circles of Life

Stephen Covey in his very famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peopleintroduced the concept of locus of control.

We spend most of our day thinking about and discussing various ideas, thoughts, actions, constraints or problems and challenges or opportunities that predominantly fall in three concentric circles.

Circles of Life
Circles of Life

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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