Never give up on people.. miracles happen every day..

A good reminder..

People are like ice-bergs.. the 10% on the outside that is visible is easy to see.

The 90% below – much tougher to understand..

Each person takes their own time to get comfortable with revealing that 90% to someone..

Acceptance is the key..

To love, we have to give ourselves to people.. and wait..

These things work 2 ways..

Nostalgia II: FYP Thesis…

Writing my final year project. As a close someone pointed out, it is the ‘last paper in NUS. Lot’s of incentive to get it over with!’.

Not entirely my last 1 I guess. Still got 1 humongous project report to go for a design module and 1 not so humongous one. But, small technicalities aside, it is definitely the ‘big one’..

It’s a special time, staying up and watching my Gtalk ‘online’ list fill up with a slew of batchmates, who I’m sure, are inching towards their page targets of 50/60/100..

Nice times, these university days! While I may complain about writing this monster, I know that the luxury afforded during these years will probably not come by again for a long long time..

31 pages down.. many more to go..

Oh, and Good Morning – I’m hoping to nap sometime soon..

Hogging Bandwidth..

The biggest factors that hog up up band-width are –

1) A task that is not in our control..

2) A looming task that I don’t want to do..

3) A feeling of purposeless-ness or direction-less-ness on a task

These issues are all mental. Generally, when all 3 of these come together, it causes a ‘snap’. Most of the issues I face (atleast) are just in the mind – not-so-positive stress is always mental, feeling of tiredness is generally mental among others..

It always amazes me how I tend to forget everything when I am playing a game of football, or more recently, tennis but somehow, when I’m sitting in my room and waiting to start on a task, every small niggle seems to come back..

The key, I’ve found, is a lack of motivation..

Not to worry, it’s not just a learning about a problem. The only solution that has worked right now is to break it down into 3 steps(at-least) that I can ‘see’ or visualize, 3 steps that would lead me closer to the goal..

As long as I have these 3 steps for whatever task, I always have enough energy. When I don’t, we go back to line 1.

KEY: Focus energy on 3 small next steps – the first of which could be as simple as ‘Open the document’ but get moving!

Practical learnings from my FYP. Who would’ve thunk??

The Big Rocks – Small Rocks dilemma..

It is a very good practice to put big rocks in place. In fact, what else could work better – living life by priorities is the ideal situation. This would mean saying a strong ‘NO’ to any firefighting and just focus on Quadrant 2 or PC or Production capability building activities like taking care of health, nurturing relationships etc..

Now, let’s leave the dream aside and focus on the reality..

Reality is fraught with crises and while you do get better at focusing energy on Quad 2 activities from time to time, for those who thrive under pressure, positive pressure works well as well.

This weekend, for example, there is an obvious big rock. However, before being able to attack the big rock – all I have been doing since yesterday is clearing all the small rocks.. these are those small miniscule tasks that take up bandwidth..

While it may not be the right thing to do, I guess what I am not equipped with yet is the mental discipline to shut them off and just focus on the big thing. At the moment, the way I look at it is that only after clearing the small rocks will I be able to fully focus on the big rocks.

It’s akin to – Cleaning the room and dusting the study table before starting to study for exams (for those who do it…)

It feels like mental preparation..

and generally happens with big rocks I am not SO keen on working on..

Not sure if it is the right thing.. hence, the ‘dilemma’ word. Interesting observation though..

What happens when there are sudden interesting developments..

You think everything is going the usual way..

I mean.. life is the usual..

theses to write, papers to write, problems to work out..

the usual drill..

and then suddenly something comes up..

and then something else comes up..

What do we do?

Keep doing what we were doing I guess, with a big smile on your face.. :)

I know this could sound very weird to someone reading it without any background..

but.. nevertheless, it’s a learning about dealing with variable change.. haha..

Leader – The Dinner Time Test..

When I ran my first business, I was tough. Even my most enthusiastic employees, when giving 360º feedback, said I was tough — but in a good way. I was proud of my reputation. It was a better, I thought, if men didn’t think I was a pushover.

One of my jobs was negotiating big contracts with labor unions. Two months into my job, one of these came up for renewal, so the union boss invited me out to lunch, obviously wanting to size me up. We met in a Chinese restaurant; he ordered the food.

As we talked, the most disgusting array of foods began to arrive: ducks’ tongues, chicken’s feet, gizzards and various body parts. It was clearly a test: was I tough enough to eat it? “If you wanted to intimidate me,” I thought to myself, “Boy, did you pick the wrong girl.” I thought, gratefully, of a stern upbringing in which clearing my plate was mandatory.

I ate every mouthful. I was so tough.

For many years I told that story with relish. Then, when I was running my first software company, we kept running into problems. We never shipped anything on time, the software was too buggy, nobody would give me a straight answer. The only thing we seemed good at developing was rage and frustration.

Driving to pick my daughter up from school one night, I thought again about the Chinese meal and imagined telling it to her. Suddenly, it didn’t seem like such a great story. Was that how I wanted her to remember her mother: the toughest woman in town? I realized with a shock how stupid I’d been. Why did I eat all that disgusting food? I should just have signaled to the waiter and ordered something I liked. Instead of playing someone else’s game, I should have played my own.

That night I realized why the company wasn’t thriving. I was trying to impress everyone — my investors, my customers — with how aggressive I could be. But I wasn’t playing my game; I was playing theirs. What we needed wasn’t toughness; it was intelligence. What I needed to inspire in other people wasn’t fear; it was confidence that I wouldn’t commit to impossible targets.

I needed to stop being a manager and start being a leader.

Today I wonder what would have happened if my daughter hadn’t provoked that epiphany. Would I ever have figured out how to lead my business? Now I call this the Dinner Time Test. When you’re about to do something important at work, picture yourself describing it over a family dinner. Does it make you feel good? Are you sure you’re playing your game and not somebody else’s? If it’s the latter, you may be a manager, but you’re not really a leader.