Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5 Awesome Recent Life Lessons

Among all the different things people say about life decisions, I think the following 5 stand out for me. I chose these 5 because they struck a chord with me. Will hopefully benefit you in moments of dilemma.

1) Life is not like a mathematical equation:

In May/June of 2012, during the course on leadership at the Young India Fellowship, we had all just been sorted into our MB personality types and the discussion regarding suitable professions for each type had sprung up. In a personal exchange, Prof Dwight Jaggard, told me that life is not like maths. In maths, you have 'n' equations and 'n' unknown variables, and you can solve for definite answers. Life's problems have more variables than answers. You will have to make some assumptions to find your way. The trick is to make assumptions based on some understanding of the self and the environment around you.

2) Don't worry too much

This was during a guest session by Mr Sanjeev Aga. I had asked him how does one let go of the tendency to micro-manage as you progress higher up. He told me that one has to learn to let go and not worry too much. I didn't understand it fully back then, but I get it very much now. Things never happen in the way you would like them to happen. Live with it. As lumps of snow roll downhill, they are not perfectly round to start with, but they get rounded along the way.

3) Getting recognized means you have been doing it right

Going from a ranking of 141 in the world back to No. 1 was not an accomplishment; it was the reflection of an accomplishment. It was the symptom of good choices; it was the result of being careful.

These words are from Andre Agassi's Hall of Fame acceptance speech. No, I wasn't there when he said it. I don't even follow tennis. I read this online. For me, this was a very profound statement that I have not been able to fully appreciate till this date. But I think what he meant is that the achievement is in the journey that led to the recognition and not in the manifestation of the journey or the recognition in itself. And, while setting out on a journey we do not know what the outcome is going to be, we should concentrate on making the journey beautiful. I had myself touched upon the idea of journey in the sense of pursuit of happiness in an earlier post.

4) Follow people, not roles:

An outright People's person, Pramath Raj Sinha, summed up his career advice to the Founding Batch of YIF in these words. You learn from your peers and your boss about doing business more than from any management book. And, if you are following the right people, they do see you through along your career. Opportunities do not float in the air - they exist in the form of the people around us. The source of recommendations and responsibility are people who trust you to do things and with whom you have a personal professional relationship. I am beginning to see this in action in my work and I am sure there are many more experiences in the days to come that will remind me of this.

5) When evaluating opportunities, risks are involved. But you need to keep the risks separate from the opportunity scope.

This one is from my boss, Tushar. I also read something similar in a preview of The Start Up of You by LinkedIn's founder Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. When you have thought about the worst-case scenario and if you are comfortable with that, your mind clears and you can see the opportunities for themselves. Now, traditional risk-benefit analysis asks you to factor in the risks, but in most cases, you have no answer to the probability of the risks actually turning true and hence, have little way of quantifying the risk. So, think about the worst that can happen. Unless it means you being homeless or dead or something that's severe, you are covered. And, it's possible that we have been overestimating the risk because of fear. This approach really helps you to evaluate the opportunity for the content with a clearer mind.

What have been some of your most important life lessons in recent times?


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