Posts Tagged ‘life’

Every now and then, we will experience a feeling of HIGH. A point of extreme happiness, deep satisfaction, an urge to celebrate.

And no, I am not referring to the point when you have had one too many at the bar.

I am referring to that feeling of HIGH coming off an achievement, the feeling of success.

So what makes you feel high?

Is it an interesting point in the journey or is it really a destination? If you feel the high in the middle of the journey, chances are that you may falter for the rest of the path, till you reach the destination. Or NOT reach. Because when I say ‘high’, I mean, the zenith, and everything else, being lower comparatively.

 There is often an extreme enjoyment in the journey itself. Many people are in the game, only because they enjoy the journey, and not necessarily focused on the destination at all.

Let’s look at examples.

Entrepreneurs I have met, especially tech entrepreneurs, have fallen in love with the technology that they have created. Some amazing application (well, at least from their point of view), say. And when the early adopters use it, and give them very flattering reviews or responses, their life is already made.

The worst (unfortunately) thing is when they get an award, or get recognised as the most exciting tech app, or something like that.

The high is so strong that everything that follows is lower comparatively.

The reality is that to reach the ultimate success for the venture, there is a long road ahead, after that initial appreciation. Size needs to be built, concept needs to be sold to a larger audience, money has to be earned, etc.

But they somehow keep putting these activities off. Giving themselves some or the other excuse. Like they are fine-tuning some part of the tech, as it will make the app even more powerful. As if it was not sellable in the current form?!

But all this happens because the HIGH has already come and gone!

Another example could be a student who does really well, tops the school say, in the preliminary exams before the Boards. Teachers and Principal all congratulate him. What if his high is already reached, and in the few weeks left for the actual board exams, the student does not put up his best?!

Let me give examples closer to a business.

Let’s take creative teams in agencies. They slog nights, dozens of coffee cups, scores of cigarettes, to then come up with the brilliant idea. Which they go and pitch and the client is floored. Wah-wahs follow. The client can’t stop praising the creative. There are high-fives and what not. And then the client slips in a small message at the end, that “make these small changes and get back”.

And those get forgotten, or ignored, or not worked on with half as much interest… and the next meeting with the client, is a disappointment, perhaps?

Or a sales guy, who works hard on the pitch, gets it all right, goes and pitches, and the client is very happy. Gives him very encouraging words. It is a HIGH for the sales person.

Except that unfortunately, that is NOT the destination. Where’s the Purchase Order? Oops, in all that celebration of the great pitch, it was forgotten that the PO was to be asked for. Or to be pursued later. Because POST HIGH, IT IS ALL LOWER.. !

The point being that, while intermediate achievements need to be celebrated, there has to be a consciousness of a bigger destination ahead. And that we are still a work-in-progress. And hold back the big celebration till the actual destination is reached.

And for which, there has to be clarity of the big destination to begin with.

For the student, it is not the preliminary exams, it is the main board exam!

For the tech entrepreneur, it is not the appreciation from contemporaries or the tech award, but the commercial success of the venture.

For the creative guy, it is not just a great creative pitch, but the winning of the account.

For the sales guy, it is not the appreciation of the great pitch, but the receipt of the PO.

So what journey are you on? What is your HIGH point? Are you clear? Are you working towards it?

As for me, whether it is a client win, or an investor coming on board and giving us value, the HIGH point is when the cheque is in the bank. Everything prior to that, a PO or a contract or a term sheet, are all work-in-progress points!!

A GTalk friend from a close friend, even as you are clearing your work email..

While you are enjoying your dinner at a restaurant, with your family, a Banjo alert suggesting that a colleague is within 500 meters of you..

You are making a presentation to your team, and an incoming Skype call rings, even while your computer screen is projected up there..

And with such criss-crossing of life, you ending up sitting late to clear your backlog, or unable to catch up on any reading, etc.

You may consider this as a stressed out life or at least a very busy one.

I am trapped into this kind of life a fair bit, even though I am conscious about it, and have made few attempts to grapple with it.

But all in all, it is challenging.

Analyzing the situation, I am leaning towards the following reason for the challenge:

Our Unified Life on an Omnipresent Device!! 

 Where does personal life end and work life start?

Time was when at 6-30 / 7 pm or whenever you closed shop, shut the briefcase and went home, the physical separation from work ensured that one life closed and another began.

Even when laptops came by, but until the Internet was not that big, you only carried “some” homework, which perhaps you worked on, at home.

Then came email, and it got just a little more pervasive.

And it’s been all downhill since. From the Blackberry (never used one, but have known many who are / were slaves to it!), to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Banjo, etc. etc. and all of their phone apps. From cheaper Internet access to 3G and now heading to 4G, so that all of these not only come to you whenever and wherever, but they also come cheap and fast!

In the circumstances, it is hard to work in silos of life.

And then, in absence of the silos, you are constantly switching, and for every switch that you do, there is loss of efficiency, and a loss of quality as well!

I continue to be in this trap, and working hard to resurrect myself.

Can I switch off my phone once I am home? I know a friend who does that. He says those who really must call him, know his home number, and the rest can wait till the next day!

Can I work with one app, one window open, and shut everything off, when I am working? So I don’t check the browser when I am on my Excel sheet, or even when I am on the browser and reading some interesting research, I don’t need to attend to the email that pops in, into Gmail..?

Can I switch off my phone at the restaurant, or at least disable some of the apps for that time?

What are the kind of changes that are required? How do I get out of the trap?

I know few – very few – of my friends who have managed to “manage” their life in this kind of a situation. Most others, including yours truly, are struggling to find a way out.

If you have any interesting solutions to suggest here, do comment..

This is an interesting question that one of my good friend keeps asking? Not just me, but himself too, of course..

Are we really making the most of the advantages that we have in life? Or having taken them for granted, we have ended up abusing those advantages, in fact?!

Let’s understand with some examples.

There is this regular debate with the NRI kinds. Which life is better? In India, or in the US (typically)?

And the things that form a part of the benefits of being in India include the great support system that we have. A retinue of domestic help, chauffeur, not to speak of the friends and family support.

Our NRI cousins do not have all of these. Which means, they need to drive themselves everywhere, they have to do groceries and cooking and cleaning, etc.

Should take up such a lot of their time, right?

And we should have all that time available to us, on account of our system, right?

Then, what ARE we doing with that extra time? Have we pursued hobbies, do we travel more, have we got into interesting social work.. etc.? The honest answer for most of us is “Probably NOT..!”.

If you really look at the typical lifestyles, you would actually find the NRI cousin, in spite of having the lack of support, perhaps having a richer lifestyle in terms of the variety of different activities that he finds time for. In spite of having to cook and clean and buy groceries and the works.

Clearly then, we are NOT really using the advantage that we have, of the support system!

Alok Kejriwal referred to this in the context of Sundays, and the way Indian entrepreneurs do not use these too well.

Let’s look at another example.

Most of the world works 5 days a week.

A lot of India works 6 days a week. Some are luckier and work 5 days a week.

We have 2nd and 4th Saturdays off!

So what DO we do with that additional Saturday that we get? As an entrepreneur, for many years, unless I really had something specific planned at home or with family, I would actually end up working on that holiday Saturday also.

So again I was NOT making much use of that additional day that I had got for myself.

Well, doing more work on that holiday can always be justified for an entrepreneur, because there is always more work than time, and there is always a to-do list to work on. But there are other things in life. If the most creative thing that I can do on that holiday Saturday, is some-more-work, I am clearly NOT using the advantage that I have, in terms of that extra Saturday off!

There are many other advantages that we take for granted.

Not having to drive down to run small errands, because the kirana store will deliver home.

Having help at office, who will deposit your cheques for you, or deposit some utility bills on your behalf, so you do not need to go and stand in queues.

Having carpenters and plumbers and clothes ironing and such help, coming home and serving you, so you do not need to do it yourself.

What HAVE we done to use these advantages? The time we save, on these.. ?

We really need to use these advantages that we have in life, to make more out of life. To do things that we want to do. To do different things.

I am trying to be conscious of this fact. At least try to count these blessings.

And then being conscious of making the most of these advantages.

For example, I have taken the decision that on the additional Saturdays that we have a holiday, viz. the 2nd and the 4th, I should try and do different things. Perhaps travel out, or pursue other hobbies.

Has been going on for a couple of these breaks so far. And I have managed to do fun new things, both times.

Have to keep this up. And to use other great advantages that we have, also.. !

What about you? Do you sense that you need to enhance the usage of the medium at your end too?

There was an interesting discussion on our college alumni yahoo group that started by a comment that the long drawn out cricket world cup is causing the loss of so many productive hours.

But more opinions were added, which stated that similar or more time is also lost in following American sports, perhaps all year round, and in many other distractions that life offers to anyone, these days.

I feel this is a part of modern day living, and the challenges on account of the many options we have in life.

I still remember a life where the man would get up around 7-30 am, go for a walk or a game of tennis, come back, get ready, take a good breakfast, go to the temple and offer nice, long prayers, then head to work around 10-11 am, wind up office by 5-6 pm, reach home, have a cup of tea, read the evening paper, shower, do dinner, spend time with family, and go off to bed around 10 pm or so. Maybe even go for an evening walk prior to that!

Seems almost idyllic. Seems like its coming from a different world altogether. And yet, it is not THAT old too. I have seen it (which tells something about my age 🙂 , but which also means its not that old), and I don’t know if in some households or some parts of our country, or with some people by choice, this kind of a lifestyle may still be a reality today.

To me, this seems unimaginable at this time.

Here are my challenges, or what I grapple with on my time:

– personal finances and investments

– keeping up with great blog posts, tweets from interesting people, facebook updates

– listening to and viewing podcasts

– reading interesting non-fiction books – finding time for fiction is like a dream (make up on that, with films!)

– news, from various parts of world, on various subjects, from variety of media

– wanting to write – tweets, facebook updates, blogs, notes, film reviews… hey, even a couple of books, not to forget my old and still cherished desire to write a film script

– oops, before I forget – family time – kids, wife, parents, brother, uncles, aunts, cousins

– friends, Rotary Club, TiE, Mentoring assignments, speaking at seminars and events

– travel – for pleasure and for work

– music – love to listen to it

– interesting apps on my iPad

– Scrabble on Facebook

– extremely heavy load of emails, very busy work life, spending time with team at office too

– business partners, investors, our mentors, strategic planning, new business opportunities

– cricket, movies, theatre, eating out

– oh.. and then there’s TV, and the 100s of channels there – and this is without DVR just yet

– Exercise, taking care of the physical self; perhaps also the mental one.. relaxation, meditation, etc.

And guess what just came to take up some more time now..

The phone just went 3G. So I can now see live TV and do a bunch of other things, while I am on the move.

Does that mean, those 3 minute short drives I used to have, where I resisted the temptation to switch on my laptop, and just looked out of the window – will those be taken away from me too, now? So I switch the TV on, on the phone, during this time, then??

It is clear that the clutter in life has to be reduced. There is an increasing need to simplify life. Cut out the junk, let some things go..

I started with TV (though due to some other compulsions), and I have not missed it a lot.

Can I do the same with few other things in life?

There is as much physical clutter around us, as is this mental clutter. And perhaps somewhere the reasons are the same.
Why don’t we throw away physical stuff? We reckon we may need it some day, so we hang on to it.

Likewise, we hang on to things in life, somehow stretching ourselves, slicing ourselves down to smaller and smaller pieces. Just holding on to everything.

Here’s where I remember one of my old favorite phrases, and which I need to seriously question at this time, “All I want is everything”. Yeah, that is how life is today.

But can we really handle it?

How about this other old favorite phrase of mine, “Success is living the life you want to live”.

Can we visualize, out of all the things that take up our time now, which are those we really want in our lives? And which aren’t. And then, work towards holding on to the ones that we want, and let the rest go. And simplify life?

What do you think? Tough questions here? Challenging and questioning our today? Harsh realities? Or not..?
Let me know what you think about these..