When the geyser exploded on my face

No, it did not. Just kidding.

Last week after a hot steamy bath on a wintery morning I just forgot to put the geyser off. It never ever happened in my life. I am obsessed with keeping the electricals off when they are not in use, especially types of equipment that are used to heat stuff; iron, geyser, and kettle.

But that day I just forgot. I continued with my routine activities, had lunch, watched a movie and took an afternoon nap. And when I was just about to leave to run some errands in the evening, I noticed that the geyser button was on. The first reaction was denial. I can’t keep it on for so long, I must have done it 2 minutes back by mistake.

Then I opened the bathroom door, only to get convinced by the hissing sound the geyser was making. It was a boiler now. I quickly opened the tap and quietly watched the combination of steam and water flow. Deep guilt settled in. My mind was accounting for the quantum of electricity wasted and the resulting bill. Then I went out thinking about the grave possibilities of such a mistake; explosion short circuit resulting from fused metal parts etc. It was a feeling of a real loss.

My mind wandered off to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and contrasted my goof-up and released the heavy burden off from my shoulders.

There is no such thing as work-life balance

For most people work-life balance remains a distant elusive dream. Because there is no such thing as work-life balance.

I know people who are so dedicated to their work, they come on time, deliver on time, work very hard and push themselves every day to do better. But they don’t carry that enthusiasm at home. They take all the lethargy at home, become couch potatoes, eat junk, sleep late and mostly don’t exercise. Not judging them, that is the lifestyle they opt for.

Then there are people who don’t work so hard at work and are not so career-oriented. They are lost most of the time, have blurry objectives and don’t grow in their careers relative to their workaholic peers. But they try to do more outside their jobs. Some have serious hobbies to pursue, focus the energy they save in the work routine to expend on the things they like.

But both groups fail to achieve that work-life balance. Either there is more work or more life but never both.

But the ones who get the best of both worlds don’t balance work and life. They simply integrate them both and call it work-life integration. If you look at their routine work and life is inseparable. You will find them reading or watching their favorite show in the office and working at home taking care of their toddler. They build the social communities they need in the office and hang out with colleagues from their workplace. They don’t simply pack their bags and head home but catch a movie with their colleagues or go for a sport of their liking.

But I do understand this seems all ideal but in my experience, I worked with such people. They make it possible. Work-Life integration might favor some professions more than others but one can at least practice it consciously to lead a meaningful life.

 

Benchmarking Vs Goals

I read that some organizations that incessantly benchmarked Toyota for quality lost the track of their own goals.
Their excuse was that they got “better” in the process.
Sharing a similar life exp.
At a recent marathon, I was trying to achieve a 70-minute target to complete my 10k and hence wanted to keep the 70-minute pacer in my sight.
Pacers are runners who bear a flag with their pace mentioned on it. They are like moving benchmarks.
I usually complete my 10Ks in 74 minutes In the first 2 km or so, I lost sight of my pacer.
Disaster!
A little hope was lost but I continued to run at my pace. After 4km or so I improvised slowly.
To my surprise, at 6km I could see the pacer as a distant bright green dot with a flag.
At 7.5km I almost matched his pace! I could hear him cheering other runners but he remained elusive.
I never reached a distance where I could have hollered a hello to him.
The last 1.5 km was uphill run to the finish line. I performed my worst here. The pacer was now a distant dot again and I lost sight of him.
I completed my 10KM in 72 min.
The pacer was my benchmark. My goal was 70 mins.
Live benchmarking is an elusive dream. The pacer (like Toyota) maintained pace on all running terrains, I couldn’t.

What is the common denominator between Linkedin, Lego bricks, Gyms, and Subway?

What is the common denominator between Linkedin, Lego bricks, Gyms, and Subway?

Let us get started with Subway first. Subway offers mindnumbing combinations of sauces, toppings, and bread to choose from. Most of the time I find an easy way out.

I tell the staff to just add everything after I decide upon veg/non-veg, bread, and my favorite filling. That alone gives me a massive cognitive load to chose from 100 odd combinations! 2(veg/nonveg)X5(bread)X10 (core fillings, paneer, chicken, etc)

Imagine what happens to people who decide to pick and chose until the last ingredient. Since you create your own good, bad or worse experience at a Subway, you are completely responsible for it.

Subway offers you Lego bricks to make your own toy. Not happy with your creation? Don’t blame it on us. Want to make a better toy? Why don’t you visit us often? The same analogy works at gyms.

You create your experience using the available equipment. At Linkedin, I publish content, network with people and consume the content I like. I create my own experience.

Maybe that’s why Lego happens to be one of the leading toy companies.

No one can blame the Lego bricks for their experience unless you step on one! hashtagcustomerexperience hashtagLinkedin hashtagsubway hashtagbusinessmodel hashtagcustomization

How come people don’t celebrate mediocrity?

How come people don’t celebrate mediocrity?

“I am not good at cooking hence I don’t cook so often”

“I am not good at that sport so I don’t play it”

You will hear such statements from kids & adults alike We don’t try because we think we won’t excel at it. As a human species, we celebrate excellence to the extent of madness.

We fail to see that excellence is a by-product of sustained mediocrity.

If you read what critics have to say about the Star Wars series you will find that most of the movies are nothing but mediocre. George Lucas, the creator has just taken melodramatic madness on earth to deep space & created umpteen movies over a period of 40 yrs. As a whole, Lucas’ sustained mediocrity has given way to excellence. Star Wars has a much bigger fanbase than some of the best movies ever created.

Sustained mediocrity may lead to excellence. Or it may not. Excellence is not always the end goal. Likewise, there are many by-products of being mediocre at anything.

In most of the 10ks that I run, I happen to be very avg in my category. But I run often to be that average guy.

The by-product of my mediocrity is health, positivity & improvised ability to do other things slightly better.

Do these by-products exceed excellence? Hell ya! hashtagmotivation hashtagmediocrity hashtagexcellence

When you don’t remember to remember

I had no clue where I had parked my car in the vast parking lot in the basement of this mall. The only thing I remember was that it was parked next to an MG Hector. As more confusion settled in, I struggled to remember on which basement level my car was parked. It was frustrating. I was thinking about how the staff would assist me with such a problem. How would I even explain it to them like a fool? How often people even face such an issue? Then I recalled that there is an App to address this issue. But it was too late for that. I decided to use brute force. Scan everywhere, like computers search for files. Just walked around like a maniac in random directions to find the MG hector, because of its sheer size. Come to think of it; how we are structured to not remember things. Everything is on the cloud. You don’t need to remember the addresses (thanks to GPS), names, titles, etc. You don’t even need to memorize your best moments. Your memories are on the cloud if you wish to relive them. 10 minutes and a lot of walking later I found my car in the shadow of the red Hector. There was a big pillar number next to it that I did not care to read. But little did I know that all these years I was not conditioned to read or memorize it. 🙂

What is the most powerful thing that your job gives you?

Do you know the most important thing that your job gives you?

For some, it might be a good experience (skills or otherwise) or belongingness (if you are lucky) to be around like-minded people. For some it is money.

But even those two or three aspects don’t come close to the most important aspect of any job.

Ask a 55-year-old who has just retired “ what is the one greatest thing you are going to miss from your many years of employment?”

And she will say “routine”.

The most important thing your job gives you is routine.

Your employer gives you an objective and resources to attain that objective. Some are given better resources and better objectives.

Most people are not able to answer this most important question: “ What am I going to do tomorrow if I quit my job today? “

The newly acquired freedom for that 55-year-old is overwhelming.

She never thought about how she is going to develop a new routine.

Those who are not caught up in the fabric of employment define and meticulously develop their own routines.

My mom is a house-wife and she was never employed. But she has a powerful routine which she has developed for herself. She created her own objectives and hustled to gather resources to fulfill them. No corporate gave her any routine or purpose.

To live a purposeful life you need a solid routine, you may or may not need a job to do that. 🙂

Cutting through ambiguity

I was 20 minutes late for the interview. 

Ohh, we were expecting you at 12:30, how are you, was it difficult to find us? she said as we shook hands.

I said, not at all, I am good! Thank you. I apologized for being late.

It was a young and small organization but they were growing fast. 

Half an hour into the interview, I realized that the role does not align with my career aspirations. And I told her that, I was just being assertive. And boldly asked if there is any other role for me. The discussion concluded shortly after.

Without wasting any time she walked me out and wished me all the best.

And said, next time you are late for a meeting or an interview, make sure you come up with a good excuse. Tell that you had a flat tire or something. But have an excuse ready.

She said this as a good gesture, I liked that. I gave a broad smile, ate a humble pie and walked out.

A couple of days back she had e-mailed me a time slot for the interview. Since it was a two-hour slot, I thought I have a little leeway around my arrival. And I had conveniently used that leeway, hence I was late.

I leveraged the ambiguity around timings to get a benefit of doubt. Or so I thought.

When I shook hands, I had two choices. I could have been brutally honest or I could have inserted the fact that there was ambiguity around timings in the E-mail. I chose neither.

Moral? I don’t know. Try to be assertive. Show all your cards or tell a bold lie, the world doesn’t care. But don’t leave any room for ambiguity. Your stance matters!

Resolutions are not goals! Happy 2020

Some humble learnings from years that have gone by.

 

Resolutions are not goals.

 

And hence, losing weight is a poor goal.

 

A better goal is running a 3km.

 

And in the process, you might lose some weight.

 

Or may gain some more!

 

Because goals are not habits.

 

A goal is of little significance if it doesn’t inculcate a habit in you.

 

You may run a 10k and lose 3kgs but what’s the point if you don’t run often?

 

Or maybe don’t wake up early to run often?

 

And habits are formed out of discipline.

 

But a disciplined mind is not built overnight.

 

It is chiseled over a period of years.

 

Discipline comes through a strong belief.

 

Belief is an acceptance that a better version of you is possible.

 

Belief is an acceptance(without proof) that there is something good that will happen out of your sheer perseverance. 

 

Weaker belief leads to weaker discipline.

 

Weaker discipline doesn’t lead to the right habits.

 

Weaker set of habits don’t give way to better goals.

 

HNY 2020.