Categories
Personal Growth

What is stopping you from achieving something big?

Nothing valuable can ever be created without consistent efforts. To build a great piece of art  the artist has to tirelessly work for months or even years. Same for any scientific experiment. Same for building a good business or profession. The list goes on. 

Rare but most essential prerequisite for being successful is being consistently motivated to bring this consistency in our life. So, how to stay consistent in life.

However, don’t get upset if you can’t keep yourself motivated to work on something day after day for months or years. Especially when you don’t enjoy doing it or when you don’t see immediate results. Like reading, blogging, jogging, meditating and so on.  

Ego Depletion 

Psychologists tell us that the supply of our willpower is limited. Will power or self-control is like a muscle. Like muscles, it gets tired or depleted when we over use it. This phenomenon is named as Ego Depletion. So we can’t rely solely on motivation or willpower to work on something for months at a go.  

However, the good news is there are ways in which you can still bring in the consistency in your life without pushing yourself too hard.

The Mantra – A Little Everyday

Whatever big you wish to do and lack required motivation, tackle a little everyday. This will ensure that you don’t have to use your limited supply of will-power.  

If you wish to read, read a little everyday. If too much reading is not your cup of tea, make it a point to read at least a couple of pages everyday. 

Building a routine or habit is necessary. That will help you overcome the most important impediment i.e. to start everyday. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 

Once you start you will automatically build the momentum to continue and increase how much you do everyday. Time will be gone anyway. Why not do a little value addition everyday?

How to stay consistent in life? – Have Routine & Rituals

The biggest problem is lack of routine. 

Say, you wish to journal everyday. Set a routine that will help you overcome your forgetfulness, lack of motivation, tendency to dabble around with unimportant activities. 

We mostly waste time in the name of being socially responsive, checking our phone or just relaxing. I am not saying that these things are not important but often they stretch and eat up all our time and you’re left with no time for quality work. There lies the problem.

How to get out of Comfort Zone? 

Our mind is extremely effective in suppressing any thought which tries to go even slightly out of the way and this might create a possibility of cognitive burden on your conscience. 

All such thoughts are pushed to some inactive corner of our mind. Biggest tragedy is all of this happens without us realizing. Often the mind creates a web of justifications (mostly false) to keep you away from physical and cognitive discomfort.

This is the time when we should start realizing that we are letting something go but we don’t. We succumb even without a fight and at times without remorse too. 

The mind tricks us all the time. To  create something meaningful we need to start delving in the ways our mind tricks us, to trick our mind. 

How to Build a Habit?

There are powerful mind hacks which can help you form habits i.e. being able to do something everyday without draining your will power. I am listing some good ones inspired from the highly recommended book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Here you go-  

Firstly, doing things at the same time everyday and for the same duration gives your mind auto suggestions that this is what you do everyday and hence it’s in your comfort zone. A mental hack you see. 

Secondly, to make routine or habits stick, do it around an already established habit. For example, going for a run immediately after brushing or planning your day immediately after you open your laptop for office work. 

Thirdly, have visual cues to show your progress when you’re trying to build a routine. You feel good when you see ticks day after day on your habit tracking calendar. If you skip the task for more than 3 days in a row, chances that a habit will stick goes down significantly. Don’t let that happen. 

Fourthly, we need to tackle only a little everyday things which are not coming to us naturally. Over a period of time, tasks like journaling, blogging, exercising, etc. become natural. Basically we need to hack our mind to make these activities part of our daily life.

If we don’t make conscious efforts i.e. creating effective hacks to ingrain this way of life, the brain will do what it does best – save you from all discomfort. It will trigger a thought chain which will work behind the scene to remove even the slightest discomfort which can arise out of breaking out of your comfort zone. 

Thus the question of how to stay consistent in life needs to be answered as that’s stopping us from achieving something big in our life and meeting our goals. Add in comment what else we can do to bring in much required consistency and perseverance. 

Categories
हिन्दी कविताएँ

निज का विस्तार

निज के विस्तार के लिए एकांत आवश्यक है लंबी साँस के लिए खुला आसमान आवश्यक है

कुछ पल के लिए ही सही विचार शून्य हो जाना है
सब को भूलना है और निज के पार निकल जाना है

मूंदों  आँखें और करो आभास
लेटे हो तुम किसी सागर के पास

ना कोई है ना होने का अहसास
सायद सुन पा रहे हो अपनी श्वास 

जब तुम हो, संग है लहरों की आवाज़ और खुला आकाश
वह क्षण स्वतः आएगा, जब कुछ भी न होगा मन के पास   

कुछ भी ना होगा अहसास, कि हुआ है कुछ ख़ास
तुम उठोगे अनायास, पुनः लौट जाओगे सब के पास

कहीं कभी दूर बैठे उस पल की स्मृति मनः स्थल पे आएगी
स्वतः ही एक मुस्कान, तुम्हारी आत्मा को तृप्त कर जाएगी 

Categories
Leadership

Avoid This Management Mistake – Don’t Shoot the Messenger

What does it mean?

“Don’t Shoot the Messenger”, it’s a common adage we all have heard. Shooting or Punishing the messenger in management context means getting angry at an employee who tells us something we don’t like hearing or expressing disdain against the whistleblowers. 

This is more commonplace than we believe. It’s so ingrained in our habits that we don’t even realize that we are making one of the worst mistakes when it comes to managing people. You can find many examples all around yourself both in personal and work life. In managing people, this is one of the most common mistakes committed by us.  

Don’t shoot the messenger – it seems so obvious. But, just to make your realize how ubiquitous it is, let me share some examples –

  1. You’re in a sales team meet and a team member breaks the news that a big deal just fell apart. Mostly the first reaction is an under the breath or a loud expletive depending on the culture of the organization and how cultured you are.
  2. A customer support executive told you that a customer is asking for a refund because she is not satisfied with our product. Your first reaction towards the executive will be that of disgust. You also start believing that the executive is incompetent more than she actually is.

What harm can it do?

Punishing the messenger does more harm than we think. I believe it’s the biggest enemy of growth mindset. People clearly start looking at you as one with a fixed mindset, not open to feedback. Remember, constructive feedback on people, products and processes is essential for any improvement in your well oiled organization.

The person delivering the message or the people who see you getting mad on the person who discloses the news that you don’t like, start perceiving that –

  • You’re a bad listener
  • You’re just passing the buck (if you’re also responsible for the situation)
  • You’re misattributing the blame (if someone else is responsible)
  • You’re not open to any criticism of your work or your product or your people 

How to avoid it?

Whistleblowers are extremely crucial to weed out negative people who creep into our organization. They are the ones who will help you keep politics, corruption and exploitation away from your organization.  

The best way to avoid the urge of getting angry at people who bring in bad news or pass you the feedback from customers or users of your product, is to THANK them. Don’t shoot the messenger, thank them.

They are helping you and your organization become better by passing the most relevant inputs for change – feedback, criticism, suggestions and so on. 

They deserve appreciation and not your rebuke. So every time you get a message, which might be unpleasant to hear but can be useful in the long term if acted upon, say THANK YOU.  

Categories
Productivity Hacks

Minimum Viable Progress – Productivity Hack to Create Value

The biggest drain on our limited willpower is to start something. You might have observed that once you start, you get the momentum or the inertia to continue. Hence you should learn more about the concept of minimum viable progress.  

One major reason for that is when we think about a task in its entirety, it looks overwhelming. Our mind starts playing games to keep us away from any feeling of discomfort arising out of the task in hand demanding our efforts.  

However, there is a way out. 

Psychologically, once you start something, even if with a small act, you send a signal to the brain that what you’re doing is not far beyond your comfort zone. You’ve taken the first step, which is the most crucial. Remember, 

“Journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”

Minimal Viable Progress

MVP is a very commonly used abbreviation in the startup lingo. In startup parlance it stands for “Minimal Viable Product”. The intention is to build the simplest possible product that will be useful to the intended user, before the actual intended product evolves. Idea is not to do shabby work. On the contrary, you develop a better product because of including user feedback you collected with the MVP.

Similarly, we can devise our own version of MVP i.e. Minimum Viable Progress. We can start asking this question to ourselves, what is the smallest amount of progress that will be useful and valuable to the task we are trying to get done. To summarize, I am quoting these lines which I picked up from the treasure of ancient wisdom, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching

Confront the difficult

while it is still easy;

Accomplish the great task 

by a series of small acts.

Minimum Viable Preparation

Any creative work, any big project or any huge accomplishment requires preparation. There are 2 ways to prepare –

  1. Late and Big
  2. Early and Small

Late and big is more common. That’s when you keep postponing the work till the end and then you do the work required by pulling an all nighter. The work might get completed, but that’s like heavy lifting for your mental faculties. Not the most healthy and productive way for long term efficiency. 

The alternative is to start early and small. If getting focused attention is a problem, try this easy time management trick to get started. Do MVP – minimum viable progress / preparation.    

Wish to write an article, write a couple of sentences

Wish to make a presentation, open a power-point file and put down your thoughts. 

Wish to build a product, make a concept note.

Wish to design something, make a rough sketch on paper. 

Wish to prepare for a speech, pen down a few points. 

Start small, but start early. 

Word of caution, if you’ve tendencies of being a perfectionist at work, this can become counter productive. Your urge to perfect your creation, can push you into the never ending cycle of small improvements. But here you need to remind yourself that 

Done is better than perfect. 

Categories
Productivity Hacks

Effective Trick for Reducing Screen Time for Kids

Screens all around us and their non-stop capability to keep us entertained, are turning us into screen zombies. Almost all parents have this question in their mind – “How to reduce screen time for kids?”

People with kids at home will be able to relate that our kids are specially impacted because of so much screen time that has crept into their daily routine. 

Most of us, as parents, are concerned about the ever increasing impact it has on studies and their mental health. For many kids, the games on mobiles or playstations have seriously reduced their time spent in physical outdoor sports. In certain cases, excessive attachment to the screen is negatively impacting the social behavior of the young ones. 

As parents, we want the best for our kids and any effort to keep them away from screens results in a squabble and is met with friction.

How to Reduce Screen Time for Kids?

I got this very useful idea from Greg Mckeown’s book titled Essentialism – The disciplined pursuit of less. My wife and I decided to try this parenting idea. We implemented this with my kids and found it super effective and hence sharing with you. 

We introduced a token system. We gave 15 tokens each to both my sons every Sunday. Each token can be traded for 1 hour of screen time. Alternatively, each token can be exchanged for Rs.10 on the next Sunday. You can decide the amount of money and number of tokens based on your circumstances.

This worked like magic. Their screen time reduced drastically. From approximately 28 hours a week to 7-10 hours a week. That’s a whopping 75% reduction. This happened without any haggling or push from our side. 

Maybe it was the motivation generated out of additional cash of Rs.70-80 per week per son. Or maybe it was just the excitement of showing off self-control. Whatever it was, it worked very smoothly for us.

Let me share another effective but little more demanding approach to answer the nagging question – how to reduce screen time for kids?

Make your kids learn trivial stuff

They will enjoy the activity part and in the process you will teach them important life skills. You can chose the activity based on the age of the child. Mentioning some activities –

  • washing their clothes
  • dusting and cleaning
  • gardening
  • arranging their books
  • arranging their wardrobe
  • cleaning their shoes
  • writing an actual letter to grand parents
  • fabric painting
  • basic cooking (be careful) like making Maggie or pop-corn
  • making basic beverage like a lemonade
  • watering the plants

There are great advantages of learning small but fun things when kids are bored. Share in comments other activities which you have tried.

Systems like this can help us bring the desired results both at home and at work. To implement any system like this, start small and then slowly improve it. Any sudden or drastic change is normally deterred by people. So start small and recognize or incentivize people on small progress.

Categories
Productivity Hacks

Easy Time Management Trick for Better Productivity

To use any time management trick, you need to understand that your attention or ability to concentrate on something is the scarcest but most precious resource you have to do amazing work in your life.

I strongly believe your attention span or your ability to do deep work, is directly proportional to the value you can create. This is especially true for any knowledge worker be it coder, copywriter or fashion designer or manager.

If you seriously want to do good in your career, you need focus on important things which you are supposed to do.

But guess what, in our hyper distracted world, our attention span is at the rock bottom. There are scores of messages waiting for you on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger at any moment. Social media feeds are designed to lure you and make you crave for more and more novelty and thus leave you distracted from your work.

Don’t get scared, I am not asking you to quit social media. So, what’s the simple time management trick I am suggesting for doing deep work?

Time Management Trick – Time Blocking

Divide your work day into time slots. At the onset of the day, fill one activity in each slot. You can also club together similar smaller activities and work on them in a slot. I also believe seeking clarity about your work by asking right questions to right people, can save lot of time.

If your main KRA is to make sales call, you can have your first 120 minutes (including the breaks, if required) slots of fresh calling followed by next slot of 30 minutes for responding to emails. Followed again by 90 minutes of 3rd slot of follow up calls.

You can fit in breaks with in the time slots. Or you can make “break” as a time slot of 15 or 30 minutes. Breaks are very important to refresh and restart. You can arrange more slots based on what work you’re supposed to do.

With trial and error, you will achieve a perfect day divided into time blocks where you do only one thing by removing distractions as much as possible. Check out this complete guide on time blocking and related techniques to master them.

If you’re a manager and you’re responsible for variety of things including team management, your time blocking schedule can look something like this –

  • 9-10 am – Making client proposals
  • 10-11 am – Checking & replying to emails & social media messages
  • 11-12 am Team meeting or one-to-ones
  • And so on!

Trust me, this one change of using time blocking to arrange your work day, can save 2 hours wastage each done. Plus, it makes you more productive, less stressed and happier! So, start time blocking, start rocking!

Categories
Personal Growth Productivity Hacks

Grow Faster By Helping Your Boss to Make Decisions

You might be frustrated with your boss not replying to your emails where you asked him or her for a decision. You always believe that you would have been able to do your job perfectly, if your boss would have given timely answers to your questions.  

In short, you’re frustrated with a boss not willing to take decisions and it’s a common scenario hindering the growth of many promising individuals like yourself.   

Let me be blunt and tell you that you’re partially responsible for this situation. Hear me out. 

Decision making is not easy. It drains you of your mental energies. Psychologists have named this phenomenon as decision fatigue. Moreover, not all individuals are wired to be good and quick decision makers. So how to help your boss in better decision making?

Make it easy for your boss. Make it simple for him/ her to make a quick and good decision. 

Imagine you asking him a single line question (say on email), like “Can we implement a customer support software in our organization?”

And the answer never comes. You get frustrated. 

But when you think of it deeply, you’ve put the onus of all the hard work on him or her. Better approach is to give him or her all the information needed to make a good decision.

To Help in Better Decision Making

Follow the C-A-O approach.

The information you give should define the Context, that is what’s the current scenario and why do you want certain decision to be made.

Share the various Alternatives which are available as per your understanding of the situation. Do your background work well before laying out options.

Layout the possible Outcomes of implementing each alternative. Try to give impact of the alternatives in measurable terms like cost saving or revenue increase or man-days saved and so on.

In conclusion of that email or talk, present the case (very briefly) for the best alternative in your opinion. That will nudge your boss to take the decision as per your wish.

So, if you help you boss make quick decisions, you make his life easy plus add value to the organization by making things faster and smarter. So go ahead and help your boss. And see happy growth in your career!

Categories
Personal Growth

Seek Clarity for Success at Work

Today I am sharing with you one Mantra that helped me a lot in my work life. Something which can make your work life interesting, fulfilling and stress-free. It’s a 2 word mantra –  

SEEK CLARITY

I believe most of the people struggle in their work life not because they are lazy or they lack intent or they lack capabilities or intellect. They struggle because they don’t have clarity with respect to their work. 

Think of this like, you got out of your home ready to travel but you don’t know where to go. You’ve no clarity on the destination. You have to go nowhere. And you will reach nowhere. That’s your work life. Maybe that’s your personal life too. 

If that’s you – Don’t be scared. Don’t feel guilty. But you gotta do something. What?

Simple, seek clarity

You should have clarity on

  1. Clarity of Purpose – Why?
  2. Clarity of Responsibility – Who?
  3. Clarity of Plan – How?

Seek clarity from yourself. From others around you. From your boss, your colleagues and so on. 

Don’t hesitate to ask questions – about your work, your KRA, the value you’re adding to the organization, about your growth and so on. 

Everyday morning, you should start with a dedicated 10 minutes “clarity seeking time”. Plan your day out. Set daily goals like I will finish coding this module today. I will make 80 calls today. I will write 3 articles today. And so on. 

Trust me, if you do this you will be moving in the right direction and with less stress. 

So be a clarity seeker from today! All the best!

Categories
हिन्दी कविताएँ

राम का सहारा

कुछ बड़ा कर गुजरने की चाह में
भटकते रहता है तू इस जग की राह में।

जब तू ऊपर उठता है पीछे सब कुछ छूटता है
तब तू राम से मिलता है जो भीतर तेरे बस्ता है।

“राम” तो बस नाम है, पर नाम के होते बड़े काम है
बिना नाम के तू उसे कैसे जानेगा,
जो तेरे भीतर है उसे कैसे पहचानेगा।

मूँद नैन और देख भीतर, सब कुछ वहां पायेगा
जो कुछ वहां ना है, वह किसी काम भी नहीं आएगा।

ले राम का सहारा
यह जग होगा तुम्हारा
हर चाह का होगा निस्तारा
तर जाएगा यह संसारा।

Categories
Personal Growth

Let Things Go

I believe the sunk cost fallacy is the most common bias infesting a large portion of the human race. We know that it leads to poor investments, unfulfilling career and taxing relationships. But we are not good at cutting our losses and moving forward.

Wastage is Bad?

The reason for this is the contradictory belief inculcated in us since childhood that – We should not waste anything. Wastage is bad behavior.

Thus even if we get to know that we have made a not-so-good decision with our career or investment or project, etc., it’s difficult for us to abandon and move on. It feels like we’ll be wasting the time or money invested in it so far. So we keep investing more & thus losing more.

Because of our loss aversion and tendency of valuing what we own more than their actual worth, we fail to let go of a bad investment or a not-so-rewarding job or project.

The solution is to ask the question, if I’ve to do it afresh, will I do it? If NO is the answer, then just get out of it.

Winners don’t Quit?

Another myth which has been ingrained deeply in our conscience is – Winners don’t Quit. 

This statement is a very powerful motivator to generate conscientiousness. But it’s an over simplified truth. In fact, winners quit all the time. Yes, they don’t quit because they don’t work, they quit when the project doesn’t work as they expected. They know how to cut losses. 

To win a big war you have to let go of the urge of winning every battle. We need to choose our battles wisely. If by mistake we get into a wrong battle, we need to turn away and choose to look into a better direction. 

Hard Work Pays Off?

The most common teaching across all cultures is Hard work pays off. No doubt it does. But to whom? And How much? 

What it also does is, create a strong urge of constantly keeping oneself busy to avoid the guilt of not working hard enough. This in turn leads to shallow work which drains out our energy and leads to no growth. We feel stretched in a thousand directions with negligible progress in any. Better path to productivity is being very selective in what we do. Do less, do better. Learn to say no to all things which are not fitting into your bigger purpose. 

Sometimes you have to let things go so there’s room for better things to come into your life.