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?
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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.
We all have preferences in life and for me cooking did not make it to the list. Since eating healthy home made food is a choice we have made cooking is a defacto mandatory activity that needs to be carried on every day, often multiple times a day. While my culinary skills haven’t grown leaps and bounds in the last few months…we have learnt a lot during the process of cooking, almost always outside the realm of food.
This simple activity made our cooking enjoyable, driving pleasant, workouts fun, gave us a lot of food for thought while we were still cooking, made us a little bit better every day in numerous ways.
Let me start this post with one of the most common productivity questions, “What all do I want to achieve today?”. Chances are that in response to this question, you will most likely whip out a pen and a sheet of paper and start listing out all the things you want to get done over the course of the day. Hmm, so should we write the blog post for the day? 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 good tasting tea 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 out with a list of things that I want to achieve today. Good job! Okay, let’s check Facebook now for just 10 minutes and I will get to my to-do list. Soon, we realise that our Facebook checking has gone on for a couple of hours, followed by a link in one of the posts which took us on an endless spiral of hyperlink chasing until…… tea time!!! Oops, I want tea and I don’t have sugar and milk. God dammit, not bitter black tea again!!! I knew it… I need something better than just a to-do list to keep me focused!