Tuesday, 6 March 2018

You won't see results everyday but you will definitely see effort.

It is very easy to fall in the trap of getting used to instant results. 'Instant' is something we are sold everyday. Be it instant weight loss, instant hair growth, instant noodles, instant energy. It would seem that waiting is a difficult and almost a stupid thing to do. 

It would not come as a surprise you that the advertisements are lying. We are being tricked into getting used to  a world where everything we want, we get instantly. We don't want to wait for advertisements to end while watching a movie or a show, we don't want to wait for a webpage to load, we don't want to wait too long for our food to arrive, we don't want to wait to make connections with people, we don't want to wait for our cab and we definitely don't want to wait for development in our personal and professional life. 

Unfortunately or fortunately, we have to wait. The wait is what makes it worth it. It will require effort but the result will be that much more rewarding. 

Don't fall into the trap of just appreciating results. Appreciate effort. You won't get or see results everyday. You will definitely see effort. It will eventually lead to results. If you wait till you see results, maybe it will be too late. When a student in your class is coming for extra classes for over a month and his/her academic levels have not gone up, appreciate their effort. If you don't, they will lose motivation and then they will definitely not get the result. Growth mindset is a beautiful thing. Practice it for yourself and for others. 

If sustained effort over a long period of time doesn't get you desired results, don't be disheartened. You may have to go back and re-look your strategy but that one thing you can be sure about is that one time you will get it right and then you won't have to worry about the effort that it will need.

Put in effort. Appreciate effort. Adapt when necessary. Results will follow.  

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Is it remarkable?

I saw this TED Talk by Seth Godin called 'How to get your ideas to spread'. It is 19 minutes long but it is truly one of the best TED Talks I have seen. It is remarkable because of how well I could connect everything I do to this talk. 

Watch it before you read further. 

Influence is a very big word. In our world, being an influential person is a big advantage. It amplifies your impact. It helps you spread your ideas. It helps you do things that not everyone can do.

In the development sector, influence becomes even more important because having good ideas is not enough. We need to sell our idea and others need to buy it. Be it a change in mindset or action that we are working towards, we are always selling an idea. 

"The things that's going to decide - what gets talked about, what gets done, what gets changed, what gets purchased, what gets built is: "Is it remarkable?" "

Is the work that you do remarkable? Is the way you work remarkable? Are your ideas remarkable? Are your outcomes remarkable? Is your project remarkable? Is the way you tell your story remarkable? 

Are you wondering why does someone like you need to be remarkable?

Well, because you have the right kind of ideas. You are working on making a difference in the world. Now, it requires more than just positive intent and hard work. You need to spread your idea. You need your friends to tell their friends about the work you do. You need your friends to believe in the things you do. That's how a movement is built. That's what leaders do. They increase the sphere of influence of the ideas that they think can change the world.

Every single day you are selling your ideas and yourself even if you don't realize it.

The question is, are you and/or your ideas remarkable


Consumption vs Contribution

"So what's in it for me?"
"So how will I benefit from it?"
"What will I get to learn?"
"How will I develop?"

How many times have you heard someone say this when you tell them about doing something? How many times have you thought this when someone tells you about doing something? 

It is our default response to any new opportunity we see or hear about. Human beings are inherently selfish. It is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, we also are not naturally inclined to think about the long term. We focus on the short term.  

If everyone just consumes and does not contribute, there will come a time when there is nothing left to consume. 

How many times have you been flustered when someone asks you, "So what value are you going to add to this?" 

I believe that's the most fundamental question I would ask someone if I am allowing someone to join a group. If you are not going to contribute anything and are just going to consume, why should the group have you? 

On a much larger scale, the world needs more contributors rather than just passive consumers. You want the world to be nice to you? Go be nice to some people. You want to learn something new? Go teach someone something you already know. 

It is the change in mindset which would make a huge difference. Imagine going to an LC thinking "Today I am going to share my ideas openly." or "I know this topic really well, I am going to make sure that everyone in the group gets it." 

Now imagine everyone in the LC thinking this way. What would that change? How would the conversation look different? What would be the culture of the LC? How would you feel during and at the end of the LC? What would happen to the efficiency and effectiveness of the LC?

We are all interdependent whether we like it or not. Wouldn't you want to make sure you get the best out of every meeting, LC, session, and day?

The only thing you have to do is have an answer for,"How am I going to contribute today?"

Be Obsessed!

That's the difference between people who think and people achieve.

People who are obsessed about something mostly end up doing incredible things. People join them because they feel a sense of awe. There is a certain amount of magnetism about their working style. It attracts success and hardworking people. 

The first thing to do is find something you want to obsess about. It is not a high stakes decision. You don't have to make it your life's purpose. It can be for a specific period of time. It can be till certain goals are achieved. 

I am a huge fan of Elon Musk only because of how incredibly obsessed he is about the work he does. I think he is the epitome of 'whatever it takes'. He has what people in management circle's call 'Drive'. It is an amazing thing to have.

Think about that one person whose name comes to mind when you hear the words "She/He is so driven". Now think about their actions towards the things they are driven about. How different are they from that of an 'average' person? How much more is this person able to accomplish than an 'average' person?  How much more likely are you to work with this person than you are with any other 'average' person? 

Wouldn't you want to be this driven person?

Find your obsession and chase it like your life depended on it. 

You are not a candle. You don't have to burn yourself to light up a dark space.

A lot of times we take it upon ourselves to save the world. There is a scientific term for it. Its called the 'Savior complex' or 'Messiah complex'. I like to call it 'Main bhi Superman complex'. 

This is especially true for a lot of people who work in the development sector. It gets reinforced when all our friends and family keep telling us how 'we are changing the lives of people'. 

Unfortunately this complex backfires on most of us. We tend to start believing that we are here to save everyone from their miseries. It gets to our head so bad that sometimes we assume miseries that people have and try to save them from those even when the person in question is perfectly happy with their situation. We have the urge to 'save' even when there is nothing or no one to save. 

Savior complex, in the long run, does more harm to the stakeholder than good. Solutions of today become problems of tomorrow because the solutions that you had thought of were to surface level problems or to imaginary/assumed problems. 

On a personal level also, savior complex is pretty damaging. It makes you wallow in self pity in case you are not able to 'save' someone from their problem. You tend to feel like all problems that people have are your problems and it is your responsibility to 'save' them from these problems. You feel guilty if you refuse to save them or do nothing. 

It also feeds of our basic need of feeling needed. It feels pretty good to be needed, doesn't it? Well, its not always a good thing. It breeds over dependency without you realizing it. 

Always remember, you only have to solve your own problems. Other people's problems are not automatically your problems irrespective of what relationship you share with them. Don't solve problems for them. Teach them how to solve their problems themselves. You are under no obligation to solve their problems.

The main person you have to take care of is you! 

Why do other people's problems seem easier to solve?

The Reductive Seduction of Other People's Problems

Read the above linked article. Read it once. Share it with everyone you know. It is one article that everyone should read. Especially everyone who wants to work or is working in the development sector.

You cannot solve problems without understanding them

It is very important to internalize this. Easy solutions are great. They are easy to understand. Easy to explain. Easy to implement. The only problem is, most of our big problems are complex and cannot be solved using easy solutions. 

You may have heard your friends/family talk about the education crisis in the country. They usually combine the 'Everything is wrong' sentiment with a very easy solution like 'All schools should be government' 'Education should be free' 'Force all government school teachers to send their children to government schools'. It makes for a great conversation at a party but now with your two month or one year two month experience in the sector, you know that its a stupid solution. It is stupid not because its wrong. Its stupid because its so on the surface that it will do nothing to solve the root problems. 

I am not saying everyone needs to go indepth of everything they talk about. I am saying that people who are working in that sector should dive to that depth. It is not a 'good to have'. It is our responsibility. Our duty. 

I would like to close by quoting the end of the article

"Resist the reductive seduction of other people’s problems and, instead, fall in love with the longer-term prospect of staying home and facing systemic complexity head on. Or go if you must, but stay long enough, listen hard enough so that “other people” become real people. But, be warned, they may not seem so easy to “save.”"

Wolf Pack!

I have always had a fascination towards wolves and that's why I connect so much to this quote. It also has amazing connections to real life irrespective of what you do in life. I can also connect it to the book called 'Sapiens' that I am reading right now. 

I think the fellowship and all its challenges are snow fall and the white wind. Each fellow is a wolf and each LC is kind of like a pack. 

If a fellow tries to take on all the challenges on his/her own, the chances of surviving or succeeding are minuscule but if the pack sticks together and works together, the pack survives and even thrives.

The fellowship is difficult and the challenge of ed inequity is huge. If we stick together, we will be able to do so much more.

If you are wondering, "Oh but how much change can a small pack of wolves do?"

Well, watch this video and be amazed! 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, its the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead