“Why not you speak to audiences about your leadership during the war in the frontlines ? “
I asked this question from a war veteran. He was brave, disciplined and proactive. He was a father to soldiers in his platoon, and had taken care of his family while sacrificing his prime years to the country. He was a role model people should know more of.
He smiled, patted on my back and said “I am afraid of public speaking”.
Room with a view is what we hope for when we book hotels for vacation. A balcony makes that view a lot more attractive. Yet a balcony that makes you comfortable is a very very rare thing.
There are balconies with views of roof tops, construction sites or in some cases blind walls :). Let’s remove them from this discussion.
The ones with good views, have balconies that are mostly useless. What you will find: – dilapidated chairs. Birds made it their toilet. Cannot sit on them. – Small space. You don’t feel good to be there. – No roof or the blacony is covered partially. It gets wet in rain and burn in sun. – Next room people can see you directly, it is awkward to relax. So you go back in the room.
Then I experienced a balcony that can be best described as almost perfect. No, let me not be mean, it was ‘the perfect’. Here goes.
-Let’s get the ‘view’ part away. It was wonderful, though this picture does not justify the real thing.
-Very comfortable chairs. Spotless clean. A round table: not large, not small either . A compact towel rack ( if you can see on the wall) for wet swim clothes to dry in the sun.
-A bed recliner with a cushion. Once again clean. That designer sensed what a person coming on a vacation needs from a balcony. Absolute privacy and loads of comfort. As you can see, people next door has absolutely no view of me. I loved this recliner. I have never enjoyed a hotel stay like this one. I slept, meditated, read, and repeated.
-The roof ! Protects you from heavy rain. Sun cannot scorch you. A bit of sun trickles through, yes, but you can stay the whole day with no issues.
Most of digital transformation projects in organisations are like most of the balconies. People spend lot of time in defining the project, yet forget the ultimate users: the business user ( employee who will use the solution daily), and the customer. We tend to think we have both of them in our best interest. Unfortunately it is not, most of the time.
In my work at aucterra, building AI solutions for organisations and as a business consultant on digital transformation, I meet a lot of business users. Some of their experiences are horror stories. So much money and effort spent on mega projects that business users find hard to use. Sometimes the new technology have complicated their processes. A frustrated business user will hardly make a customer happy.
That’s why we at aucterra use SPRINT framework developed by Google Ventures, before starting any project. It is a process that has customer at the heart of innovation. It starts with customer and ends with customer. The process : Map the problem, Generate a lot of solutions, Select the best 3-4 solutions, Then select one critical part of the solution and build a prototype with in a quick time. Then finally test the prototype with 5 actual customers. Yes, all these with in just 5 days.
Here’s an example of the power of compound interest. Let’s say you put a fixed deposit of Rs.100,000 in a bank account which gives you 7% annual interest. You absolutely do nothing else. You let it be in the bank account to accumulate with the interest year after year. In 10 years, you’d have Rs.200,000. You doubled your money because you let the money accumulate with interest. You doubled your money with just the compound interest. You did absolutely nothing, but to put that 100,000 at the start. But this “you did absolutely nothing” is misleading. Here you are doing a very hard thing. A challenge that most of the people in this planet is not capable to do. The challenge is to “NOT touch that saving” for a long period of time. Our immediate impulse when we have some savings is to spend it on something we desire. We think “what is the point of saving when we cannot enjoy the present moment”. Lot of people give in to that, upgrading life frequently at the expense of building a safety net. I used to be one, and that was painful.
Let’s say you are a good saver. Not only you put Rs. 100,000, but you put 10,000 each month for 10 years at 7% annual interest. You let the interest accumulate monthly. You would have Rs. 1,931,814 at the end of 10 years.
Let’s say you are a super saver. Not only you put Rs. 100,000, but you put 20,000 each month for 10 years at 7% annual interest. Let the interest accumulate monthly. You would have Rs. 3,662,662 at the end of 10 years.
A man in motor cycle jacket and helmet comes in to the shop and shows a yellow card printed with rows and columns. The shop owner reaches for his drawer, pulls out a similar yellow card. Shop owner gives Rs. 1500/- to the man. Both of them scribble on their cards, swap them, and smile through the masks.
Later I got to know that it was the process for daily collection. The shop owner has taken a Rs. 30,000 loan. Term is to pay back 33,000 with in a month. Shop owner pays 1500/- each day until he reaches 33,000.
This system runs with out collaterals. Runs on trust. Runs on risk not documented . In some cases fear is the collateral.
This is one snapshot of the unbanked in Sri Lanka. The shop keeper is not worthy enough for banks to lend. So the shop keeper has to find alternatives with in his means. It is high interest, sure, but it is what he has.
The shop owner explained me the benefits he receive through the system. – He was not charged any interest during the covid lockdown months. The lender has been very reasonable. Even most of the banks could not live up to that standard. – He can pay back the loan in any number of instalments, as long as it is completed with in a month.
Also I learnt the next door shop owner has taken a Rs. 100,000 loan from the same lender and have fled never to be reached again. Bad debts.
When I have a list of work to do, thoughts ping pongs from item to item until my mind is like a fog. After that when I want to focus on one thing, other items on the list are lurking in the background. Not good.
What I do: Write down the list of work on the left side of a piece of paper. One by one, in bullet points. Then on the right hand side, infront of each work, I write down the first step, the most easiest thing I can do to get things started.
I have primed my mind like this – just do it, just do the lazy minimal work. Just get it out of the system. No, I don’t have to be perfect. Just do it.
Then I do those first steps. I am surprised how effective that is. Not thinking much, but do that first step.
After those first step here are the insights I gathered over time.
1) Some tasks I think is hard, is just 5 minute work. Not kidding.
2) Some tasks I think is easy peasy, is actually days of work. I have not planned it well, that is why the mind fog comes in.
3) Some tasks are not worthy of my time. I could say NO with confidence with in a 10 minute first step. I save a lot of time and mind fog.
Jealousy is a mix of feelings driven by selfishness -they have something I don’t have, I like what they have, why am I not getting it ?
Living with jealousy steals my time, makes me miserable, and disable me from putting good effort to things and people I care.
So what can I do ? What can anyone do about it ?
1) Metta meditation helps me hell of a lot. That meditation triggers spiritual codes of our minds. Doing it daily helps to keep the unwholesome states of mind in check .Settling down to a comfortable position, one can reflect…
May I be free from hatred
May I be free from aversion and irritation
May I be free from jealousy
May I be free from troubled states of mind
May I be able to develop a happy mind
May I be peaceful at all times.
This is the most sustainable effective path I found. I invest my time to do this in the morning, everyday.
2) Here’s a popular passive approach. The idea is to think- these people who are successful and popular looks wonderful and their social media posts are full of vanity, but we don’t know their actual struggles. They suffer too. So there’s nothing to be jealous of.
This is instant noodles, but not nutritious.
3) Another useful and practical ( and a bit selfish) approach is to look at other’s success and abundance as a support for your life. See, if people around you are poorer than you, they might come to you for help. But if they are richer than you, not only they will not bother you, may be you can get critical support when you want it, because they can. So there is a legit reason for you to be genuinely happy when someone you know do well.
A selfish thought process, I know, but a practical approach, kind of like a mix of 1) and 2) that will lead you to 1) .
1) and 3) helps me to quickly get away from that quicksand before it is too late. Life is too short.
The best thing I saw on internet about online learning is,
“Knowledge is FREE, But you have to PAY attention to get it”.
Your attention is the most precious asset. Not the money you have now.
The things and people you PAY attention today, will define your outcome in future. Yet attention is what most people don’t have. We are constantly distracted by our phones and our emotions. Me no different. I struggled with online learning when I started. Yet I worked at it. I learned data science, artificial intelligence, wealth management, coaching and many other soft skills from the best in the world.
I learnt it through Coursera and Linkedin learning.
You can see my certificates in my Linkedin profile. If you see a certificate, that means I have paid for that course in Coursera or I was on Linkedin learning subscription for that month.
Certificate tagging in Linkedin gave me the motivation to complete the courses. Now that I am used to PAY attention, I am going on to coursera and get tonnes of knowledge daily for FREE. Yes, I am no longer driven by adding certificates to my Linkedin profile.
I just go to Coursera, pick a course and audit it.
In audit mode, I get all the access to course content -all the videos and notes.
What I don’t get are – quizes and the certificates. I am fine with it now.
Loads of respect for Andrew Ng, Founder of Coursera for not blocking people in hunger for knowledge, but cannot afford the course fee. Andrew, you are a hero of mine. Big fan !
There are times, I get angry with a person or irritated by a process. The anger and frustration consumes my entire thought process.
I would try to do metta meditation or read a spiritual book. When that does not work, I would switch to entertainment ( netflix/ youtube) to wash it away. I wish it was that easy. Distraction works for a while, but then those sneaky thorny feelings finds its way back to my heart.
I did the above process, over and over, with out any peaceful results.
I learned a lesson the hard way. I realized I am trying to control the bad feeling. Also I realized I am trying to control it by sitting.
Then I stood up and started walking. Walking meditation helps if it is a small irritation. But if it is mega, I will just walk from the place I am, where ever that is. I will try to walk closer to nature if it is closer by, or will just walk through busy streets.
My body activates hormones I do not know names of, sweat starts pouring and I can see people from many walks of life who gives me perspective. Slowly my thought process slows down, my body is in active positive stage, and so are my thoughts.
The more I did this, the more I was able to let go of bad thoughts in quick time.
Like everything else in life, share market in any country follows the nature. It’s just like our ECG test. There are ups and downs. That is the way of nature. If we have a flat ECG curve, we are dead.
Likewise stock market goes up and down. Up and down. All the time. There are plenty of advise on internet, from brokers and from your friends and relatives. Go to investing.com and follow the patterns of the price of a company share. See the ups and downs. See why they went up and down in the past.
So very basic sane thing to do – is to buy shares when they are down, and sell when they are up. Pretty simple right? In theory it is. In practice, most of us get in to panic mode and do the opposite.
Like every advise, do not take mine just like that.