A year is a too long a period to reflect. Nevertheless I did.
2017 has been a mix bag for me. I achieved a lot, made numerous mistakes, learned a lot, and connected to thousands of people. I am grateful for even the meanest of people I met, because they showed me the goodness in people I take for granted. They showed me that I should hang out more with the wonderful souls.
But here’s the learning I had.
A week is too short, a year is way too long ,but a month is perfect.
Perfect to have a full analysis of how you spent your life. So in next year you have 12 opportunities to review and grow. 12 times to check on your new year resolutions.
I used to be a quality connoisseur, when it came to movies. Back in 2002, when VCD was the bomb, I did not give in to camera copies. I would wait diligently for the best version to pop up. When things were in abundance around 2010 with torrents, still I was selective. I needed the best quality ones. I would go to movie theatres even when I could not afford, because I wanted the best quality. Whenever I am out of the country, I visit a IMAX theatre where available. I do not have TV at home for more than 10 years now. I do not intend to buy one in future.
End of 2017, here I am watching movies and TV series on Netflix (mostly) and iflix.
Netflix original TV series content is so good and addictive. I am more in to TV series than movies now. TV series have more time and space to detail out a story in depth. I never thought I would watch TV series on a ipad or a small screen mobile phone, yet I do now. Because I am struggling for time. I do not have time to be in-front of a TV. But I do have unproductive time chunks wasted in traffic. Also in between meetings, waiting in a cafe. It is good to catch up on to a 15 mts of TV time on my mobile. This has replaced my novel reading. I do not know if it is a good thing. But I do know I am looking forward to some good TV content.
Good quality story telling in high definition, easy access, value for money monthly subscription models, tailored suggestions based on my viewing history are all shifting me to digital streaming entertainment. It’s so exciting. It’s my duty to balance it out. Because one can easily get addicted.
A new year always gets us in to make resolutions. We want to be better. Our intentions are most of the time inclined towards our progress. Yet, acting on good intentions need perseverance, committed time and will to succeed.
If we do the same thing we did last year, we would get the same results in the new year.
Common complain is that we do not have time. To do something new, you need to give time from something that is not productive right now. Because, adding a new habit needs time taken off from an existing habit. Not all habits we have right now is productive. So when you chose a new habit, chose a habit to let go as well.
It’s like when you have one space garage. If you want to move a new vehicle, you have to remove the existing vehicle. Your 24 hours is your one space garage.
The hype about information economy is everywhere. The headlines scream some audacious thinking.
Information is the new crude oil.
Data is driving business.
Information is everything. Manage it or die.
The thing is- information is now in abundance. We create enormous amounts of data. No one, even machines can not keep track of the amount of data we create. We create more than what we can consume. So we consume more.
Here’s the catch. If information is the new crude oil, why we are not paying for 99% of the content out there in the internet ?
We trade our attention for the abundance of information. The more information we get, the more attention we give. More the attention, the more income for the tech industry. The big brothers of information tech ( mainly facebook, Google, and Amazon) are courting for our attention. The battle is fierce. The more time we spend browsing them, the more income they get. Which is why these tech is so smart. We don’t pay, right? Someone else is paying. But our attention? They take bets on our attention.
So, in effect, what is the most scarce resource out there now ?
Not sure yet ?
Look around you. Who can stand at a queue, travel in a bus or be at a meeting with out taking a peep in to their phones?
If there are energy sapping people, avoid them, as much as you can.
If there are events that deplete your time and energy reserves, avoid them.
If there are people mocking you on social media – mute them, unfollow them. Choose not to respond to them. The feed that you see in your phone, is visible to a very small section of the world. You are not the centre of attraction, thought it seems like that in your perception. There’s nothing greater than taking care of yourself.
Also choose not to harm others.
And once you have a better perspective and identified sources of good energy, remember to practice below.
“Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t be harmed. Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been”
Workplaces and our homes are now intensely complex. It’s hard to stay calm and be objective because emotions and residues from the past bounces most of us to get distracted and irritated. Obstacles are a way of life now. To embrace obstacles is the new attitude. I must try hard to
1. Control emotions to focus on objective
2. Filter out good in all situations
3. Ignore what irritates me and which limits me.
4. Be mindful in the present moment. Remove fear about future. Not to over think.
5. Only spend time on things I can control.
Daily workout and meditation in the morning is my fuel tanked full, for the rest of the day.
There’s a saying “if you want to make people happy, do not be a leader, sell ice cream.”
Leadership for me is to do the right thing, and if it feels right, get others to do the right thing too, so that they become leaders. Humans do not like to be changed. It is hard work. And it’s a choice.
Eminem has released ‘Revival’, his latest album on December 15th. I am listening to it now, alongside Charitha’s album ‘Galana Ganga’.
I am able to listen to both albums in one app ( Apple Music) by Paying $2.99 per month. I am able to listen to them the moment they release their music. I am totally legal when it comes to listening to music now.
A song is now simply bytes of data packaged (in few Mega bytes per song) living in a cloud ( a distant server I have no clue about) waiting to be summoned by me and millions of other users in the platform. Music publishing has never been this easy. Charitha has the same platform Eminem has. That’s the magic of digital transformation. Although, selling on this platform or any other app, and making it to the top is a combination of multiple success factors, which is altogether a different story.
Yet, the era of music labels controlling artists is over. Anyone can ship their creations, no matter where they are.
I went to tweetupSL 7 yesterday. I have missed last 2 years.
So many new young faces, and the interactions gave me the flavour of young aspirations and new trends in social media. Right now, the intensity of interaction is high, one of the main factors is the inclusion of local languages. It’s much more engaging when one can type in your own language.
On twitter, we follow so many unknown people. It’s great to meet someone in person after I had followed and interacted with them for like 3 years. Most of the time, when I meet in person, I see a different personality from his or her online presence. So yeah, we have our split personalities: online and offline. This very core human nature brings in numerous issues and tensions on social media. Social media promised us harmony around 2007, we wanted everyone in the world to be on social media. Yet we find ourselves in unwanted trouble in 2017, because when we have many people on social media, we get to see all of their problems too. You just cannot have good things only. Just like life.
I was asked this question by Amila, and I had to answer to the audience – ‘how did twitter helped in your life and work?’
I actually reflected on this same question, few days back after I watched Chamath Palihapitiya’s rant about how bad social media is, especially facebook.. He asked people to move away from social media. I guess yes, when you are popular and influential. No one needs your tweets to validate your authority in the field. But for the rest of us, who are ordinaries, social media is a gift of unfathomable proportions. Provided, we use it safely, with empathy and with patience. (UPDATE: yesterday, Chamath has taken back his own words. Again emphasising my point, we need balance)
I joined twitter in 2009. I’ve connected to great people and brilliant ideas on twitter. I cannot count them, but I can assure it is in thousands. So many long term business partnerships were formed through twitter and other social media introductions. Many good friends were found, some of them feels like my family.
Yet where do I draw the line? Too much of anything is bad. Too much of video streaming is bad. Getting to phone the moment we are bored is bad. Too much of scrolling in your phone as a habit is bad.
Part of what Chamath says is true. Social media can own you, take control of what you think. It can create a small bubble in your mind and can make you think that what you see in your feed is the truth. It has happened to me. It became an addiction and then I had to get out of it. That’s where digital detoxes helps me. And there are apps to help me to get in to digital detox.
Technology inclusion in our lives are inevitable. We must be part of it to explore the opportunities. We must also take care of our personal hygiene, so we become mindful in a world full of information.
I remember when I was down with depression some time back, working on my self like resting, sleeping, exercising, music and reading did not work much.
But I remember, one time I had the courage to help someone despite my condition. That changed everything. Knowing that the person was released, relaxed me internally.
The tensions I had evaporated. I could work on myself better.
It is counter-intuitive to much of self help band wagon out there. Yet it was that simple. The heart to help requires no money, no resources, just my willingness to commit unconditional space and time with someone who is in need.
What I found profound is that when I counsel someone, that conversation will be healing me. It will heal a situation in my mind like karma on the spot.
I met this entrepreneur at Ambalangoda railway station on the morning that dawned with a curfew imposed in Gintota for a clash that had potential to brew in to an ethnic tension. I asked him questions about his life and his work.
” I have been selling water and soft drinks in trains for 20 years now. Now Fort railway station officials have barred us from getting in to trains. Our seller union is in talks with the officials. We do not have the approval yet, so I am hopping to trains from Aluthgama to Hikkaduwa. I do not go to Galle, because I may get arrested. I had been arrested 5 times, for selling water.”
With a deep sigh, he continued.
“Now our people have started fighting among ourselves ( he was referring to Gintota clash) . Media would project as many other things they want. what happens ? Tourists will stop coming to our area. ”
I saw him selling his water in the train. One Sri Lankan customer purchased one bottle ( Rs. 50/-) and showed a Rs. 1000 note. I was furious just to look at it. But this entrepreneur went to the next customer and a one more and got it sorted out. Not a hint of irritation in his face or his actions.
These entrepreneurs are the fabric of our country who bears the burden of the embroidery of GDP and other economic numbers you see in many glossy reports.
These people have no safety nets. They hustle on a daily basis, with no excuses. The system is against them, yet they do not give up, they hold on. The struggle is real. They put food on the table. They are the real heroes. A country which does not have these people in their agenda is a nation of hypocrites. These people are not in our radar in the AC room discussions in Colombo. While we go on social media saying western forces are robbing us, just think, we are robbing these people of their future as if they do not exist.