Things to teach our kids

A random assortment of things, mostly values, to teach our kids.

  1. Choose kindness over being right
  2. Be happy for others' lives
  3. Winning is not everything
  4. Only thing to be afraid of is fear
  5. Shut that authority in your head
  6. Strive to get better everyday
  7. What you know eventually does not matter. What you are able to learn matters.
  8. Don't work for grades or praises.
  9. Find the most original way to solve a problem.
  10. Don't interrupt. 
  11. What the other person feels is real.
  12. You cannot always help. 
  13. But you should always try to help.
  14. Everyone is like you. They want more or less similar things.
  15. Teach what you learn. 
  16. Learn what you cannot teach.
  17. Don't give up. 
  18. Learn to rest and slow down.
  19. Sleep heals a lot of things. Even a heavy heart.
  20. There is magic in the world. Don't believe who say otherwise.
  21. What you see is not the only truth.
  22. Aspire to be you.
  23. Your work should be an expression of who you are.
  24. Never work for salary.
  25. Choose your friends wisely. 
  26. It is not important to be a social butterfly.
  27. Stand up to bullies.
  28. Don't be a bully.
  29. You will never run out of worlds to explore.
  30. Boredom is overrated.
  31. Humility is underrated.
  32. Happiness is a choice.
  33. Everything always turns out OK.

Your contribution is your depth

What do you understand best? What is intuitive to you where on top of the skills you acquired, your intuition and curiosity always kicks in? What is that one thing where your insights are always cherished because they bring something unique every time?

What is the thing that pulls you in like gravity? What do you fall into naturally? How deep have you fallen? What is the one thing that you will do if all the burdens and responsibilities of life are off your shoulders?

Where is your depth? Have you meditated on finding what it is, if you don't know it already? That, I believe is what the world needs from you.

You can call it passion or natural pull. It is the place where we find ourselves most of the time when our mind is at its extreme, calm or hyperactive.

Your depth will take you into realms unexplored. Whether it is about a topic, subject, process or idea, because your heart yearns for depth, you will go to charters that others cannot. Your passion is the right to passage.

There should be something that you care about. What is that? What can you do to make your life that something? Can you make that plan?

The world will be better that way.

Creator, Consumer and Spreader

Who are you? Are you a creator of content, consumer, or a spreader. All three always? Do you switch roles time to time?

But are you honest being who you are? Creators need to create something that does not push an agenda of self-interest. They need to truly create content because they believe what they are creating makes the world a better place.

When you are consuming content, are you also actively spreading content that is worth spreading? Are you switching roles to support a worthy artist? Are you spreading stuff that think make the world a better place? Consumers are also curators for better information and they should actively spread good ideas that they encounter.

In every place, we have a gap. Good artists go unnoticed because someone does not take the extra step to switch roles from a consumer to a spreader.

In the same note, if we as consumers, are not serious in our jobs as curators, we will easily miss seeing the aggrandizing agenda of someone. It is a serious job.

This probably is a rant. Maybe because I see there are too many artists in the world who are toiling away without a break. Maybe because there are too many stories that go unshared and the one that is being shared is not worth sharing. I don't know. But, I do know that this is a problem we should definitely think about.

Don't be a parked domain.

If you have stayed at 'one type of job' for the last five years, I don't want to hire you. I am not advocating that you change companies but you should have failed in your current company, a lot. And, you got better with every failure.

Yes, you are exceptional at what you do. You are a specialist. Yes, there is a role for you in a company that is happy maintaining status quo. A company that will fast become irrelevant because what worked 10 years back will not work in 2 years. You are a specialist there. So what?

What have you learned in your current job? How have you attempted to keep up with the changing world? How have you led from inside? How have you rallied troops to experiment, change the system, and fail? How have you constantly innovated? Tell me those.

The is a world of builders and creators. Technology is a commodity. You either create technology or leverage it to solve real problems, and help the world become a bit better than what it was yesterday. If you are not doing it, you are just sitting there, like a parked domain, waiting to be bought because you have a cool resume.

Rituals are important

I come from a culture where there are a lot of rituals. I have grown up admiring few, hating few, questioning few and complying with few. I always wondered why my family went through these rituals when they logically didn't make sense. And, there were numerous times where these rituals were frustrating.

It took me a while to get it. I know why they are important.

Rituals give you a trigger to do something. And, they are tangible. It is easy to attach a thought or a habit to the act of a ritual. They don't have to logically make sense. It does not matter what your ritual is but what matters is the trigger it generates. 

In that context, rituals are powerful. You can essentially create a ritual to drive a habit or a behavior. They work splendidly for that.

Usually once a few months in my news feed, I see articles about 'morning rituals' of successful people. People obsess over what there rituals are versus why they are important. Honestly, I feel it does not matter what your ritual is. You can use any action as a trigger to energize your body. You do it consistently, every day, it becomes a ritual.

Do you have a ritual? Leave a comment.

 

First scale issue

While my job is always around dealing with scale issues, I have never encountered that with my personal projects, until today.

My website went down and that makes me happy. Ironic, but true. First, I thought I had messed something up (highly likely). But it turns out that the traffic took it down and my cheap servers didn't like the load they were seeing. First scaling problem. Yeah!

It is a great feeling to build something that people find useful. But it is only a beginning. The challenge is to continue building things that people love. And, shipping and iterating. Now, my mind is flooded with ideas on how to optimize the HBR project to handle more concurrency and load and I can spend time on it because it is real now.

 

About mentorship.

Assortment of things about mentorship.

  1. Mentorship can come from anywhere. You just need to be open to receive it. 
  2. Mentorship can come in any form. Feedback, advise, help, healthy criticism, opportunity to fail, learn and succeed, etc.
  3. Common mentorship models advice finding a mentor for an area and working with them. And, having different mentors for different areas in your life. That is not the only way. 
  4. On the contrary, you don't need dedicated mentors. You just need enough people taking interest in what you are doing and wanting you to succeed.
  5. Getting people who invest in you is a reflection of your good karma. If you care enough about the world around you, the world will inevitably start caring about you.
  6. When someone is giving an advice, remember that they are doing it because they care about you. There is too much going on in this world and in people's lives that they can easily choose to do something else. Respect the intention.
  7. Openness to receive advice and ego are not good friends. They usually cannot live together.
  8. Every person has something to offer, a thought they have synthesized into a perspective, a skill that they have honed or an insight they have garnered. It can come from any interaction not just dedicated mentor sessions.
  9. Asking someone to be a mentor is usually pointless unless your requests are tangible and time-bound.

 

Where is your attention?

What matters to us is important.

It will be reflected in the work we do, the books we read, the friends we make, and the things we touch.

What matters to us is important because it controls what we put in our head and what we put in the world around us. 

But, how often do we think about it? In a culture where attention is quickly becoming a currency that is scarce, how often are we able to divert our attention to understanding what is truly important to us rather than responding to every stimulus that comes our way? The constant beeps of a phone, the unanswered emails sitting in an inbox, endless tweets and posts are always fighting for our attention.

And, they get our attention. Not because they deserve to, but because we think they do. 

What matters to us is important. But we will never to get to the truly important things if we don't change the status quo on who gets our attention.

But still...

Not every song can be a billboard top 100. But still, thousands of song writers and singers come to work everyday.

Not every book written, story told, and words masterfully crafted together will be on the best sellers. But still, thousands of writers show up to work everyday.

Not every line of code can put a man on the moon or win intergalactic wars. But still, millions of lines of programs are created everyday.

Our world is better because the work we do is a natural form of expressing ourselves. It is important. Whether we design a hairpin or a rocket, whether we write hundreds words in a blog post or part of a book, whether our art uses paper or the world itself, as its canvas, it does not matter. It only matters that we show up to work everyday and do our best work. Because, I guarantee you, we are making the world an amazing place to live.

 

What you know and don't

I was working with my son on some number sense and quickly I realized a pattern that was playing in his mind - "But I don't know that."

And, we focussed our efforts on writing the problem on the paper and writing everything we know that might help us solve the problem. And, soon he was starting to leverage what he knew to get to what he did not know.

Too often in careers and life, we get stuck in this cycle of don't knows. That is the point. We are not supposed to know everything every time but should be able to get the knowledge by leverage what we know already.

Get to what you don't know by leveraging what you know already. You will be surprised at the results.

Learn and teach

Learning and teaching is a powerful cycle. There are two types of people, one who want to always learn but not teach, others who want to learn and immediately teach what they learned. Of course, there is a third kind, of people who are not interested in learning, and we are not talking about them here.

What is the point of learning without teaching? If for nothing else, teaching allows you to talk about what you learned and it can serve as a great way to validate our learning and also create discussions that will allow us to learn more. 

Teaching does not necessarily have to be through one particular medium (blogs, videos, group settings etc). It can be any medium which brings people together with various perspectives and skillsets to synthesize on the core message you are presenting. It is very powerful.

Do you have such a medium where you talk about your work? Your learnings?

What can you change today?

Do yourself a favor. Change one thing around you that has bothered you for sometime.

It can be a simple act. Clean your room or pick up the trash or water a plant or vacuum your car or write that letter or make that call or say your sorries. It can be anything. But can you do it?

We are not busy to do small things. We are only busy to do big things. They are daunting and we have more important things to do, more distractions to feed and more excuses to justify.

The beauty however is that, if we stay busy with small acts that change the world, the big things take care of themselves eventually.

So, what are you going to change today?

Poking the box...faster

Have you read Seth Godin's poke the box? If you have not, you should.

The premise is simple. Take initiative. Start shipping. And, poke the box. Because when poke it, the box will poke you back. What is a box? Everything that is in front of you. 

One thing that Seth implies but does not explore is how do you poke the box faster. You have a voice. You are an initiator. You start things. You ship them. You challenge status quo. You are a unicorn in a balloon factory.

You need tools. Seth argues that by poking enough times, you will know what works and what does not which has an underlying implication on the tools that you will build along the way that helps you poke the box faster.

The tools can be craft, community, processes, data, etc. You need to be aware of what your tools are? And, the initial set of tools can play to your strengths until you find the next set.

Poke the box, but pay attention to how efficiently you can poke it. Pay attention to the tools you are using to change the world. Because, some tools will work great for you, others won't.

Habit is opposite of fear

If you are afraid to speak publicly, speak a little everyday.

If you are afraid to sell, sell something everyday. 

If you are afraid of writing your thoughts, write a little, every day.

If you are afraid of saying the wrong thing, speak your mind, a little, every day.

A little goes a long way in making a habit. And, habit goes long way in replacing fear.

Don't confuse truths with opinions

Don’t confuse opinions with correctness. You have a voice and a voice gives your thoughts wings. Don’t cage your thoughts because you are not sure if you are right.

You don’t have to be right all the time. But, your voice should be heard. Your voice will change as you grow, mature and learn new truths both about yourself and the world. A changing voice does not mean lack of conviction, it merely means personal growth, new truths, new ideas. Over time, you will find that your voice will settle down into few themes that you deeply care about. But until that time, there is no point in worrying about what that voice should be and what is the story you are telling.

The story you should tell is the story of yourself, your growth, your work, your community. Just be honest and your honesty will give uniqueness and strength to your voice.

Don’t keep quiet because you are not sure if you got it right.

Shut the authority

The authority in your head tells you not to do something because someone will tell you off. It tells you not to take risks and follow the safe path because you will fit in. It tells you to always ask for permission. It tells you that your bosses are right and you should maintain status quo. It tells you not to speak up when something is wrong, because it is the way the world works.

There is an authority in your head, that is serving as a proxy to all the other authorities in the world around you. 

Shut that thing off. Ignore it. Make ruckus. Create art. Don’t give a damn to that voice. Because beneath that voice, there is another one, which is quieter. That is the voice tells you to hope, dream and change the world. Your goal should be to make that the primary voice in your head.

Earn my attention

Don’t threaten my attention, earn it.

When you want my attention, you cannot threaten to get it. You need to earn it. If you are a vendor selling your product or a company selling your services, you are going to find yourself in my spam folder by trying to shame me into responding to your emails. 

What efforts have you put to show that your service or product is indispensable to me? If you think I cannot live without your product, show me. Just don’t send me emails with the subject lines “3rd attempt to connect.”  Because honestly, I am neither obligated nor willing to respond to any attempts of emotional manipulation.

 

Take control

There is enough inspiration in this world to keep you inspired for the rest of your life. You can follow the footsteps of any artist, designer, writer, entrepreneur, monk,…you want. Yon can control the news you get, the content you read, the things you create, the thoughts you nurture.

The world will give you what you ask of it. Ironically, the internet will also give you what you ask of it. 

So ask wisely. Take control. Choose only the things that makes you who you want to be. 

Dig your feet

Sometimes you just have to put your head down, dig your feet into the ground and focus. That’s all there is to it, nothing more, nothing less.

You think the world is unfair, but in all fairness, it is giving you a chance. A chance to dig deep, and focus on the story you are telling. 

Too often we focus on keeping our egos happy and asking questions about how important we are in the general scheme of things. But, the real question to ask is how important is our work and how can we maintain our focus on it.