The Filter

We all have filters. It is this filter that helps us interpret the world. If we stood alongside five other people at random and observed a street for an hour or a project group working, we would see these filters in action.

Yes, we would all be seeing the same thing. And no, we really wouldn’t. It is likely we would all have different interpretations to the same situation.

The power of a filter is often underestimated. An optimist’s filter interprets nearly every action with a positive twist while the pessimist’s works the other way around. A suspicious person’s filter works to find every interpretation that indicates wrong doing or cheating.

The amazing thing about filters is that we generally choose filters that match our own personalities. If we are suspicious, it is likely we have a suspicious element to our filter. If we are happy, it is likely we filter everything we see with that happiness.

The power of choosing a filter is not given the attention it really deserves. At the end of the day, the filter is but a question.

An optimist looks at a negative event and asks “What can I learn from this?” while a pessimist looks it with “Why am I so bad?” and “Why is the world conspiring against me?” is a suspicious person’s question.

We are how we see the world. We see the world through our filters. Our filters are the questions we ask.

So, if we are the questions we ask, what questions are we going to ask ourselves today? Are we going to learn or judge?

Inspired by today’s good morning quote..

‎’If you can change yourself, then you have already begun changing the world.’

On Entity Theorists and Incremental Theorists

This week’s book learning is from ‘9 Things Successful People Do Differently’ by Heidi Halvorson-

Behavioural research has identified that we explain excellence and performance in two ways. Entity theorists believe abilities is fixed while incremental theorists believe abilities are malleable.

The easy test is to see what you blame when you have a hard time? Typical reactions are –

Entity theorist: “I must not be good at it.”

Incremental theorist: “That result is thanks to insufficient effort/bad strategy/poor planning. If I fix these, improvement is possible.”

Studies have proven 2 things –

1. Incremental theorists are absolutely right. Evidence has show that the key to success is deliberate practice i.e. 1000s of hours spent mastering skills.

2. These are CHOICES! We aren’t born predisposed to one way of thinking.

Do you believe your musical ability is fixed?
Image source

The impact of this choice is staggering – if we approach a new skill (e.g. music or painting) believing like an entity theorist does, we would actually find improvement anxiety provoking because we believe it shouldn’t be possible! More on this next week..

Here’s to “incremental thinking” this week!

Offer of Help

I have been working on a couple of chunky projects these past couple of months, both at work and otherwise. And as always, I have found myself grateful for help I have received from unexpected quarters that got me across the line.

So, now that I am getting started/re-started on a whole bunch of my own projects, I thought I’d offer up a bit of my time and energy for anyone who is looking for help.

What do I mean by help? Good question. I am fairly open about this. If you are reading this post, it’s very likely that you’ve been reading this blog for a while and have your own ideas. Specific areas where I feel I can add value in are help around presentations, job search related issues, resume review, structuring content or ideas. That said, if you are looking to bounce a new project/initiative/product with someone or think through a specific problem, I think I can help there too. And if it’s a question you would like to answer me on this blog, that’s an easy one!

Why am I putting this up here? I was thinking about this the other day. I am generally always working on a “be of help to someone” project in a normal week. It’s typically resume review, career help (where possible), university and graduate school applications. But, it’s typically either with people who I know well or with people who know me and hence, connect a friend or a relative who is in need of specific help.

This week, I was inspired by 2 offers of help I saw on the internet. One of them was Brad’s random act of kindness and the other was Joanne answering my question on money management advice. I have interviewed Brad and Joanne over Skype but have never met them in person. Yet, they’ve both been really helpful and approachable. It’s nice to know there are people out there willing to be of help.

So, while I’m not a rock star venture capitalist or a super inspirational mom and angel investor (a.k.a. Brad or Joanne :-)), I thought I’d do my bit and offer my help to anyone who needs it. I’m testing this idea out for the first time via a blog post and interested to see what it’s going to bring.

Please feel free to write in to rohan@rohanrajiv.com

Have a good weekend all!

Stranger in a Big City

I was heading home on the tube yesterday. As I was walking in at St Paul’s station, I found myself slow down at the soulful voice of the girl singing a beautiful song on the guitar. I have a new found appreciation for tube performers (thanks to having realized how difficult it is to play the guitar, and sing) and as I put in my tip and walked by, I stopped again for a few seconds, leant a wall and soaked it in.

I noticed a young woman, probably in her late 20’s, right opposite, doing the same.

We were both on board the next train a couple of minutes later.

“That music took me back home.” She said with a smile.

I learnt that the song was a song that was from Michigan, where she came from. She spoke of how the soulful song transported her home for a moment. I noticed a tear in her eye as she spoke of home where everyone knew everyone. “Very different from scary London” she said. I nodded. I could relate.

We spent barely 5 minutes conversing about a whole bunch of topics. She was upset about the economy back home and was hopeful the US would bounce back. And we bade goodbye to each other as she got off. “Well, it was nice meeting you. Good luck with.. everything” she said, as she walked away. I wished her the same. I could still make that tear out in her eye.

I don’t know her name but I do know that conversation touched a chord. For a brief moment, I could relate to her even if we had barely spoken. We were both strangers in a big city after all, far far away from home.

Experiences like this remind me about how connected we all are. It’s a connection we take for granted when we are at home. But, miles away in distant lands, these occasional connections remind us that we are all human beings with similar wants, needs, dreams and aspirations. And yet, we often have all these artificial boundaries – caste, creed, colour and race that mess this wonderful natural equation up.

What is life if it is not to feel this connection to humanity?

As I walked out of the tube, I thought of the song “Home” that I’ve been listening to as I’ve typed this. It is a song about love.

“Home is wherever I’m with you.”

Home is where the heart is, where love is. And if there is love, home can be everywhere.

So much to discover, learn and experience. Don’t let a bad day at the office fool you.

It’s a wonderful life.