Is giving tabs/smartphones an answer ?

Someone asked me “Do you think giving smartphones and tabs to school teachers , students and government officials, a good answer ?”

My answer was ” It depends on the answer you are seeking ”

Yes, you may solve the accessibility problem. May be that will help the receiver be more connected. But with out training on content and tools ( let’s say apps) most of them will drift off to the vast ocean of interesting stuff like social media. Desired things like productivity and creativity doesn’t come easy. Internet is full of easy stuff.

Judgment and knowledge on hygiene while on internet are crucial. May be we all need it.

The bakery

Bakery business is more or less the same, especially in my neighbourhood. But there’s a bakery I like, I go there often. The food is good, tea is fine, yet there are places where food is much better than here. So why?. I go there for the warmth of a chat over a tea.

I know the staff well. Customers also connect with customers, because the staff engages them. We share our experiences. There are stories to tell and listen. Laughter. There are limits for topics. It’s not intrusive.

I get to eat on days when I forgot to bring in money, or when cash is short. I will pay on next day I’m there.

Somedays, I let them keep the change if they don’t have it. Next day they remember and deduct. There’s a natural balance, like a home.

There are other branches around the city by the same bakery owner. But they are not like this.

There’s one person here, who is friendly and duty conscious. He spreads caring to his team and then to customers. Who says one person cannot make much change in an organisation ?

Respect time.

Though many say “time is money”, time in organisations is not actually treated in the way we treat money.

Organisations in meeting rooms waste hundreds or hours in few hours.

I was recently at a meeting with 25 people for 2 hours. That is 50 man hours. What we achieved ? – confusion and boredom. Only one decision was taken. That could have easily achieved through one email.

Many want consensus in decision making. It’s all good. But we simply forget how difficult to get consensus even between 2 people. Try deciding what movie to watch with your spouse, if you think consensus is easy.

Rather, focus on what people want. Ask questions, and be ready to accept answers as they are. Be bold to be surprised and vulnerable. Think “there’s always a better way to do things, even routine activities”. Then act differently. Courage to act after getting that feedback is the loop that keeps you improving.

To get feedback, you don’t need meetings. Feedback can happen in your way to the water dispenser, with the right question. Sometimes humans are relaxed and more responsive when they are standing on their feet. You don’t need to have an answer. But you need to have the mind space to accept the response to your question.

Save meetings. Save time.

Less talk, Do more.

1-tv
photo credit

There comes a time in our lives, we are sick and tired of talk and want to do stuff. Anything, but talk.

The frustration that our thoughts do not matter is an acute feeling. It cripples us.

However, action done right or done wrong has a solid realness that we can relate to, no matter how insignificant we think it is.

Send that email that is in drafts, pull out those admin tasks you delayed for so long, make that phone call you are irritated to take. Whatever that gets something done.

Watching entertaining late night political talk shows, and engaging in social media storms feels like we are on a rocking chair. We engage in those nonsense with all the people we meet in our lives. We are moving, but going no where. Somewhere down that slippery slope we think we don’t matter.

The world around me, is created inside me, by what I put inside my head. And how I feel about it in my heart.

Remove myself from the equation

uber-driver

The vehicle in-front of the taxi I was traveling made a sudden lane change which prompted the driver to stand on his breaks. We were unharmed.

I said “ what a fool”, or something similar.

Ten seconds of silence and the driver said “ When I am on the road, and when I am behind the wheel, I remove myself from the equation”

“What do you mean?”

“My objective is to take my passenger from  A to B. What happens between A to B is my navigation. I should not involve in other’s matters”

“How do you keep that attitude all through out the day?”

“If I don’t do that, I go crazy, so I say a prayer in between rides and renew my peace”

I mentioned what Buddha has said, and he mentioned what Allah has said.

I got down and he was ready for the next ride.

Newsless for 9 days

quit-news

I wrote in this blog about fake news, how to decipher fake news and how to broaden our view of the world in an endless distracted content rich world.

Thameera asked me  “why you need news at all?” and shared this post on how I can go newsless.

I thought it is not possible, because I thought I need to know what is happening.

But then I realised most of the news I consume is not healthy for my sanity and have nothing to do with my circle of influence. They are some manufactured pieces of stories to keep my attention from real stuff that I can make a change.

It was time for a strict diet.

  1. I unfollowed all media twitter accounts. Did same for Facebook media pages.
  2. There were friends who were sharing news content too frequently. I ‘muted’ them on twitter, and unfollowed on FB, so that their posts will not get on my feed. But I am still following them on twitter and still friends of Facebook. No hard feelings, just that I am on a strict diet for a while.
  3. Signed off from all news portals I have subscribed to.

It’s now 9 days. Here’s what has happened.

  1. I was used to check social media and click on links that ushered me to news sites early in my day. Now, because I am on strict diet, and I had to form a new habit, I turned to meditation early in the morning. I would get up, and meditate after a cup of tea. Mind was all over the place. But I knew how to sit still and just watch the breath, because I have been doing it for a long time. Yet somewhere down the line, that habit of meditating first thing in the morning, gathered dust. 30 minutes of meditation activated that habit, and I am so glad.
  2. Then I would write my journal to get my agitated thoughts out of my system, or if my thought process is refined, I would just open a word document and punch on keyboard to create a blog post. Just like this one. And you can see I am still not on internet. So that is 15 minutes of writing.
  3. Then my mind is settled and ready for work. I take the most important ( usually the hardest) task in my to do list and do it for 15 minutes. Usually it is a simple mind map to gather my thoughts, an email or a report. So, 15 minutes of the most important task.
  4. During the day in breaks between work, instead of social media snacks, now I consume books. Real books, not e-books. I finished reading a fiction. This was after a very long time, I mean, last time I completed a fiction in straight go was more than 2 years back. That felt really good.

I cannot explain the soothing peacefulness I experience, because it is simply beyond words.

So much gratitude to Thameera for sharing that article.

How could you?

I was accused of something I did not. Truly, I had no part of it.

Because I wanted to be completely understood, I asked specific questions to see if what I think is the same what he thinks.

I explained that it was a total misunderstanding. He did not believe a single word I was saying.

I figured there’s no point, and also my blood is now pumping at a rate which is not healthy.

I moved away. Physically yes, but not mentally. Here’s how it went in my head.

“ How could he? Even after all my explanations? Does he think I am a liar? So,  he could only see this incident? And why he cannot see I would not do such a thing “

It is fun to be the right person in my head. But my blood is still on high speed.

I remembered an advise from a book and sat down. Closed my eyes and quietly slid in to meditation for about 10 minutes.

“May I be well, May all beings be well”

Then a smile crossed my troubled face.

“ How could I ? Even after all good things he did ? Do I think he’s useless ? So, I can only see this incident ? And why I cannot see I am capable of useless judgments on him?”

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned

~ Buddha

​Why is it hard to get news ?

With internet democratising the knowledge space, why is it I’m finding ever so hard to believe in news I get ?

The world used to get joy from watching parody shows. It was not just laughter, but good education too on issues that mattered.

The real news is now parody like. 

First, most of the actual news is absurd and puke worthy.  Then Media giants make their recipe of  click bait headlines. Then social media posts. Then parodies. Then parodies on parodies. Then more social media. 

Fake news , fake facts spread like wildfire. The collateral damage of omnipresent social media accessibility.

In the morning I used to get my daily dose of news through Twitter and Facebook. I have given up on Twitter and Facebook as news sources. They are ( it’s actually us, our contributions make those news feeds ) now just about pushing things faster, more. 

It’s absolutely excruciating to decipher facts. 

So how to survive this madness ?

This is what I do now. Read more. Read more from different sources, like news.google.com, AJ+ and Vox. 

I found, the more I read, the broader my understanding is, the more I’m open for different angles. 

The other side of ratings

I was waiting for my ride on Uber when I saw on app that the driver had a 3.5 rating.

Only 3.5 ?

A sudden irritation crept inside me. What could this 3.5 number mean?

Is he a reckless driver? Is he bad with using maps? is he mean? may be his car is in bad shape?

These thoughts circled my mind for the 5 minutes he took to arrive.

Reflecting on my mind state, I questioned my self “what if I had not seen the rating?”

I decided to act like I hadn’t seen his rating. I got in.

I was welcomed to a wide smile of a young man in his mid twenties.

To my surprise he drove exceptionally well. No crazy changing of lanes, no abrupt brakes, and he was very courteous.

He had been driving for 6 days on Uber. There can be many reasons for his 3.5 rating.

I judged him on his rating alone.

We already have enough criteria to be judgmental: monthly income, size of home, car, brand of clothes, number of degrees/MBA’s.

Now, with social media and apps: how many likes you get to your selfie? how many friends, followers, Shares ?

Ratings throw beauty of randomness out of human equation.

We judge people like they are things, not as humans who are capable of random acts of goodness.

These random, ad hoc characteristics of humans are been standardised to make humans palpable for big data. Then humans can be classified to include them in to target groups. Very interesting times.

Asking questions and fear of failure

I find audiences very peculiar. They don’t ask questions after a session is over.

When I go to a session, an event, a meeting or to a talk,  there’s a good reason why I am spending my time there. Otherwise I don’t go.

So when I am there, I want to ask questions to clarify and clear doubts. I want to learn new things.

I am not afraid if I look stupid in front of others, because my biggest resource is time, and it needs better care.

From experience I found, it is only my questions that can make my time spent worthwhile in many occasions. Here’s an example.

Extra tip: I am an avid google maps user, but I stop by and ask from people about the place I am going. I am pleasantly surprised by the knowledge I get.

I found most of the time, the reason I do not want to ask questions is the fear of rejection.

Steve Jobs explains this in less than 2 minutes: