Posts Tagged ‘reading’

A child is open to learn new things. Evolve. Change. If she does not know cycling, she is willing to learn. If she has never gone on a bus alone, she is willing to try it out. There is a first time that she goes to the stage and addresses a group. All it takes is a little convincing that she CAN do it. And some coaching which she is open to receive.

I don’t know what happens to human beings as they grow older, but I see so many – or most, in fact – getting resigned to their fate. How many times have I heard the words, “I am like that only” or versions of that statement.

Someone says, “I am not very organized. Never have been”. Another says, “I cannot be aggressive” even as she carries a sales and marketing profile! From people who can never be on time, or those who can never give up smoking, there is just so much ‘resignation’ to one’s existing being.

I know change is difficult. And old habits die hard. But OF COURSE, we can change! And we need to keep working at it. Whatever be the age, we can attend courses, read self-improvement books, take coaching, in short – expose ourselves to what we can be – and in doing so, we can certainly keep chipping off our old being, and become different. Become what we would like to be. One only needs to work at it, to give it a genuine shot, and change happens.

I know for sure, I am very different from the person that I was, 10-15 years back. For me, besides books and reading, which I have talked about earlier, the few life-changing events have been:

  1. Being away from home for the first time, when I went to pursue MS in the US, feeling homesick enough to want to come back home, sticking out, fighting it out, doing odd jobs, being self dependent, working there, and ultimately, having a rewarding stint in the US,
  2. In the family business, venturing into a new business of merchant exports, lugging a bagful of samples and doing cold-calls in Singpore, striking a few deals, and getting the business going,
  3. Venturing into yet another new business, at an early stage of it’s evolution in India, viz. the AC Drives, finding a source for these abroad, visiting and finalizing the deal, getting started with imports, and building it up into a decent business over time,
  4. Doing a Dale Carnegie program based leadership course, called MILT; an amazing experience, and one that potentially had the biggest impact in my life,
  5. Done a follow up Dale Carnegie program on Sales techniques; as part of this, I had to make 10 cold-calls each week, for about 6 weeks, even as I was already “senior management”. An amazing learning experience,
  6. Venturing to start up an Internet business way back in 1998, and then going through through the ups and downs, over 9 years, including some tough years; specifically, fund raising, working with a partner, working with investors in your company, working with expensive senior employees, negotiating on M&A opportunities, morphing the business many times over… oh, it was rich and rewarding,
  7. Post-divestment of our stake in the startup venture, and for the first time in my working life of nearly 20 years, I proceeded to work for someone else – yeah, took up a job – had always worked for myself. That has been a learning experience, and managing to adjust well, and deliver well, has again contributed to growth.

All these are of course, in addition to the learnings that normal life gives – being a son, being a father, being a husband, being a neighbour, a friend.. everyday is a learning experience, if you want to make it a learning experience.

The point about all these incidents / events in life, and then about the various books and articles that I read, is that I first WANT to get better, to improve, to overcome the weaknesses and shortcomings that I have, and then I keep working towards them. There is of course, a long way to go. But I am chipping away, and I feel good about it.

And I assure anyone who wants to, that there is nothing to the statement, “I am like that only”. You can NOT be like that, if you don’t want to. Just try.. you will be pleasantly surprised!!

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I got my earliest introduction to the pleasures of reading, from my father. He was an avid reader, and consumed a lot of books. He was very diligent with some of his self-development and management boos reading. He would make notes, re-read the chapters, and in short, ensure that he absorbs the book to the max.

I picked up the habit and would read a reasonable amount of books and magazines, when I could. I used to read fiction as a student, but have more or less stopped reading fiction for last 10-15 years. I get all my fixes of fiction from movies!

But I have tried to keep pace with non-fictional reading all these years.

During the period of 9-10 years when we were nurturing our Internet startup, Homeindia.com, time was really sparse. And the reading volumes fell significantly. I used to miss reading, and used to feel miserable when I did not read a book for 4-5 months sometimes.

But then, I discovered audio books! They were a God sent. I had long commutes to work, and I managed to use these well, while devouring one audio book after another. It was a great habit to form again.

While a printed book is always a preference, as you can stay on a page, ponder over the thought, think about how it fits your own situation, before turning the page over, the same is not possible in an audio book. The audio book keeps moving ahead, and you have to strive to ensure that you keep the concentration. But this one disadvantage aside, I value the fact that I can at least manage to cover books, rather than not doing so at all!

I graduated further, after a couple of years, to the iPod. And this opened up so many more avenues. For one, the audiobooks came on the iPod, so I did not need to carry CDs around.

But more importantly, with the iPod, I got introduced to the world of Podcasts. I have over time, subscribed to so many different topics of podcasts, and these have enriched me across a wide variety of subjects, and I have enjoyed them tremendously.

I continue to listen to podcasts and read audio books, regularly, now, on the iPod.

What saddens me as I look around me – to my friends, family, colleagues – is that they all read so litle these days. In fact I see a drastic reduction also in the newspaper reading habits.

How will these people enhance their knowledge, their skills? The knowledge on any subject stays so superficial without the accompanied reading support?!

I am so glad for my interest to read, and for having hit upon audio books and the iPod, which have been able to keep my reading habit going strong!