Why are you thinking?

Thinking is considered a waste of time today. 

Imagine, if you found someone sitting alone in a conference room or someplace with no laptop, no devices, with just a pad/pen thinking? What will be your reaction? 

It will be like – “This guy is a nut case, what is he doing?

But he is thinking, reflecting and getting things in perspective or solving a problem.

Thinking, reflecting, and getting deeper into our own consciousness have given human beings all the ideas, inventions, & discoveries around the world. In fact, Einstein used to call it “Thought Experiments” and that’s what gave him his best inventions.

How can someone solve any problem without thinking? “Thinking is the most productive work and that’s what differentiates us from animals”.

But still, we spend much less time “Thinking” nowadays. Here is why we stopped giving importance to “Thinking”:

Its derogatory to make time for thinking

Similar to the above scenario (Sitting alone in a conf room), there are numerous examples, where making time to think is disapproved. What are you thinking? Why are you thinking? These questions are asked more as criticizing the person as if thinking is a crime.

The person who wants alone time to think is considered anti-social. 

Instead of thinking you should be working or discussing with colleagues etc. Should be doing something productive, why are you wasting time on thinking :). To hell with that – “Thinking” is the most productive work one can do.

Too many distractions 

When was the last time you sat down for 20 minutes without doing anything, without mobile/laptop, without TV, without any distractions? 

Before the mobile or internet era, at least while traveling, we use to enjoy scenes and in the process think & reflect. Nowadays because of mobile (or a device), we listen to sound bites, watch movies, chatting, texting in media, or on calls. 

Can we sit in a room for 20-30 minutes without distractions? When do we have time to think?

Can’t be alone, thinking is so boring, makes us uncomfortable

We can’t be in solitude today. Flexing our thinking muscles makes us fidget and cannot do it for long.

Our excuse is we always have more exciting things to do.

Yes, thinking is boring initially, but as you do more often, you start enjoying it. Thinking is a conversation you are having with yourself, how can it be boring? 

It’s just that we lost our thinking cap because it’s considered unnecessary.

Thinking is replaced by copying others or social pressures to conform

Most of our life is spent analyzing & copying peers or doing things under social pressure. What are they doing? What others will say? etc.

Hence most of our decisions are already made by others. Look at your decisions, it’s driven by peers or neighbors or social rules. Yes, I agree, there is nothing wrong with being influenced. But in most cases instead of reflecting whether it is good or bad for us, we just copy or follow.

Copying is easier so why think? But as we mature and reflect on our decisions, we realize that most of what we copied or followed without thinking was not right for us.

The world does not want us to think

In today’s “materialistic world” no one wants us to think, Govt, Companies, Big brands, Social media. In fact, they want us to stop thinking and just listen to them, consume what they say, buy what they want, do what they say.

Look at it from their perspective, if all the decisions you take has to be taken by your independent thinking, will you never keep buying unnecessarily. Nope, if you reflect, pause and think why I am doing this? You will stop it and will become more sensible.

They don’t want us to think but to react, that’s what benefits them the mosts.

So how to get back to thinking

It’s simple – “Start thinking”. We all are culprits of not thinking enough, not analyzing enough, and let life happen to us in a zombie mode.

So relax and start thinking, let it grow on you. Make thinking time, take being alone time and be in solitude for some time daily. Let’s remove all the distractions while thinking, switch off everything else.

Thinking can be in different forms: 

• It can mean introspection, 

• It can mean sustained reading or writing. 

• It can mean the concentration of focused work alone.

• It is something where you brain is driving instead of being driven.

Thinking is the most productive work, and the more you do it..the better you become at life and enjoy doing it!

Monday blues…

When I was in working as an employee, I use to always envy entrepreneurs, business owners & promotors. They never seem to have Monday blues, I use to hate Mondays. 

I am sure most of us who work in job or are employed hate Monday’s. 

So what is “Monday blues”? 

It’s a sad and melancholy feeling, starting from Sunday evening, that the next day is very stressful. Meetings, expectations, status reports, team confrontations, and never sure what kind of surprise waiting for you on Monday. In-fact sometimes we dread this feeling so much that we find reasons to skip work that day if possible. But can’t!

So how did I got rid of Monday blues? 

I came out of these Monday blues, I am running my own startup for the last couple of years. And sometimes when I remember how I got rid of Monday blues, I laugh at myself.

A simple answer is I made every day Monday, :(. Sorry to disappoint u! But there seems to be no other way. 

As a Co-Founder, every day is a Monday with lots of stress. Days are not so different now, be it Sunday or Monday or Tuesday, every next day is going to be a blue day. Yes once in a while you have golden days but those are few counted once.

It’s like to kill fear, be with fear, and u will get use to the fear.

Unfortunately, there is no other way to kill Monday blues, unless you run off and live the life of a saint alone in forests.

So enjoy your Monday blues, and be grateful you got only one blue day in a week :). 

It’s the People…

It’s the People

People are the foundation of any company’s success. The primary job of each manager is to help people be more effective in their job and to grow and develop. We have great people who want to do well, are capable of doing great things, and come to work fired up to do them. Great people flourish in an environment that liberates and amplifies that energy. Managers create this environment through support, respect, and trust. 

Support means giving people the tools, information, training, and coaching they need to succeed. It means continuous effort to develop people’s skills. Great managers help people excel and grow. 

Respect means understanding people’s unique career goals and being sensitive to their life choices. It means helping people achieve these career goals in a way that’s consistent with the needs of the company. 

Trust means freeing people to do their jobs and to make decisions. It means knowing people want to do well and believing that they will.

— Trillion Dollar Coach

Performance Goal vs Learning Goal

Getting an A in French class is a performance goal. Being able to speak French is a learning goal.

Both goals can fuel acheivement.

A performance goal (Getting higher grades) is effective for relatively straightforward problems but often inhibits one to apply the concepts to a new situation.

It gives a feeling of entitlement, If I clear IIT (A prestigious engineering exam) I am entitled to the bests in life (Which is far from true).

Performance goal leads to the entity theory, If I do this, I will get this. And is a system that requires a diet of successes otherwise we give up easily on the goal (Or change the goal). As it’s more extrinsic than intrinsic.

People, therefore, choose easy targets that, when hit, affirm their existing abilities but do little to expand them.

In Learning goals, one doesn’t have to feel that they’re already good at something in order to hang in and keep trying. After all, their goal is to learn, not to prove they’re smart.

It is more in the belief that ability is malleable and working harder is a way to keep getting better and better.

Given a choice between the two, always go for the learning goal, as it’s much more fulfilling and rewarding than the performance goal.

Distraction vs Traction…

Traction is any action that pulls us toward what we want to do or what we are interested in doing. These actions are done with intent and purpose.

Distraction, on the other hand, is an action that pulls us away from what we want to do or rather what we need to do.

So if kids want to watch TV to get distracted from studies or escape from studies. It should be a big NO.

But If s/he wants to play Video games it should be fine as long as it’s scheduled and meaningful. However, playing Video games to escape from their responsibilities is a distraction.

Distraction if remained unchecked can form a negative habit, whereas Traction changes the perception and makes it more meaningful and positive.

Traction can also be used with if…then rule…

If you complete your studies in time, then you can watch TV for one hour.

If you help me with kitchen, then I can allow you to play video game for half an hour.

Same is true for us, so …

If I can finish that office presentation, then I can watch TV for one hour.

So anything including digital devices or digital time can be made positive and purposeful if used in the right perspective and within limits i.e for Traction, not Distraction.

The Sleep Miracle…Don’t miss it.

A Doctor tells you about this miracle pill, if you take this pill regularly, it:

  • Reduces your chances of having cancer or heart diseases drastically.
  • Boosts your memory and increases your productivity many folds.
  • Boosts your immunity and helps fight & recuperate from all diseases much faster.
  • Reduces your chances of Alzheimer’s and other stress-related diseases drastically.
  • Keeps your fat in control and helps reduce weight faster.
  • Moreover, you will be much happier on a day to day basis without stress and anxiety.

We all would have grabbed the pill with both hands even if it costs a bomb.

The Pill is: Daily dose of 8-9 hours of good sleep at night.

Now don’t roll your eyes, I know sleep is the last thing in our mind, we are running so fast, that sleep looks like a waste of time.

But there is numerous scientific evidence that both good quality and quantity of sleep leads to a much happier, healthy, and successful life. For further read please refer – Why we sleep book here.

I was always a firm believer in sleep, so much so that I take short naps very frequently apart from the night dose (I wrote this blog sometime back on it). Before understanding sleep benefits I use to feel guilty about these naps or completing my quota of sleep whereas my peers use to get away with just 6 hours of sleep.

But now I can say sleep is one of the most critical requirements of our body. Sleep conditions our body for best productivity and long & healthy life. Understand the symptoms and crohn’s diease

So let’s take our sleep seriously and ensure that we have a daily quota of at least 8 hours of sleep.

Here are the few quick tips for sleeping better:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. We in general have a wake-up plan – Alarm clocks, Wakeup calls, etc but start having a go-to bed plan as well on a daily basis.
  2. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol before sleep. Contrary to the belief that alcohol helps in sleep, its other way around it just brings drowsiness but sleep or rather deep sleep is not possible with it.
  3. Avoid large meals late at night. I presume you would have felt this yourself, having large meals late night leads to an increase in metabolism for digestion and hence should be avoided.
  4. Relax before going to bed. Don’t overschedule your day so that no time is left for unwinding. A relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, should be part of the bedtime ritual.
  5. Take a hot bath before bed. When we sleep our body temperature should drop, a hot bath opens body pores and allows the body to cool down. You can try it but again depending on the climate and location etc.
  6. Dark & cool (Not cold) bedroom, this suits the body and helps get sleep faster.
  7. Gadget free – No TV, mobiles & laptop. We all know the story of melatonin- sleep hormone and the negative impact of gadgets and screens against it. Avoid any devices at least one hour before bedtime.
  8. Don’t lie in bed awake. If you find yourself awake after staying in bed for more than twenty minutes or feeling anxious or worried, get up, and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.

So go ahead enjoy your daily pill of sleep and be healty & wealthy in life.

Solve complex problems or solve consumer problems?

As a technologist or product owners, we have a choice – Solve complex problems or solve consumer problems? Believe me, there is a huge difference.

Being techy it gives us people a thrill to solve complex problems even if the problem has zero correlation to a real consumer.

As long as its complex we want to solve it :). Let’s not get into why of it? Maybe it gives a mind thrill or gives a good massage to our ego.

But then what’s the point of product & technology, if it does not solve consumer problems? or real-world problems?

I would say this is one of the biggest learning for me, now that I have my own startup. And I can safely say this makes a huge difference between a successful techy and an average one. Anyone who gets this prospective can not only deliver things much faster but adds tremendous value to the product.

I learned it the hard way, here is how it happened:

Initial days as a techy I had very little interaction with clients who were using our software. But one day I had a call with one of our biggest clients to explain (We use to provide a platform for sellers to sell their items and ship it to the consumer, something similar to eBay) why a major release got postponed leading to shipping & tracking problems. The Client was losing a lot of money because of this issue.

I was dreading the call and was ready with all the tech explanations why it happened, what are we doing to fix it, etc, etc…

The call started, my sales colleague did a quick intro along with the business side updates and handed over to me …

I started with all sorts of technical jargon and then tried explaining that the architecture of the dashboard was scraped and rebuilt for scale…blabbering as much as possible to convince him.

Off-course he couldn’t understand a single word.

But here comes the surprise:

Me – “Sir, the release got delayed because blah blah…we are working day and night to get it live by next week and again blah blah blah more jargons”

Client – “That’s fine but can u please enable my shipping address in the success page”

Me – After long pause….“Sorry, didn’t get, Please tell me again..”

Client – “You guys have removed my shipping address from the success page to make it more prominent on the next page, and hence my customer couldn’t find it easily. ” Client Continued – “Because of this, my customers are not able to understand and have been canceling orders. Also, I need to coordinate with every customer on the phone/mail and losing money…”

Me – Again a longer pause, but some sense of relief and guilt for making this guy and others suffer for our favorite “Dashboard Release”
“Sure Sir, I am sorry for the issue it might be a product bug let me fix it asap”

Client as politely as possible – “I am not much concerned with when the dashboard goes live but please fix this asap and I am more than happy”

Me – Now with more confidence, since its just a shipping address to be added to the success page.
“Sure Sir, I assure you, we will release it by tomorrow”

We fixed the shipping address display issue in the success page, The Client(s) was happy and we released our dashboard in next two weeks (BTW – there were very few usages of the Dashboard but that’s a different story)

This was a life-changing moment for me, I couldn’t understand what happened for some time, why is the client not bothered to use Dashboard built with great technology and supposedly help him so much.

Later I figured that most of the clients had a simple system to show the shipping address and get their team to process it thru excel. Why would they want their team to learn Dashboard and make it difficult, learn a new skill set and invest more?

If we would have understood their problem a bit deeper and had integrated excel into it. It would have been much easier to implement, much faster, and would be very helpful to them. But we were solving a very difficult problem of integration of data from different sources into a single Dashboard and was being proud doing it.

Remember 80-20 Rule

To all the techies and product folks, remember – 20% of product & product features are used 80% of the time hence if we can hone this 20% we are winners. Of course, it’s difficult to identify the 20% and that’s where our focus should be.

So next time if you see a complex problem to be solved, first raise questions what & why, is it really helping someone? and if it does not go solve a complex puzzle to massage your ego 🙂 but please ignore the complex problem.