A friend at Linkedin shared a story yesterday that Deep Nishar, soon-to-be former SVP of Products and User Experience, shared at his farewell.
Deep came from humble beginnings in India. When Deep was in secondary school, he learnt that a graduate from the school had been admitted at the Indian Institute of Technology. He understood it was rare and prestigious but didn’t know much beyond that. So, he asked this student if he could spend time telling him more about this. The student obliged and spent 2 hours with Deep explaining what the institutes were and how he might prepare to make it in. Deep took his advice seriously and secured admission when he graduated.
He went on to explain that that changed his life. It put him on a trajectory that saw him go to the University of Illinois Urbana Champagne, to Harvard Business School, lead Google’s efforts in the Asia Pacific and then play a key role in Linkedin’s growth over the past few years. All it took was 2 hours from a person who probably knew he would get nothing in return.
Deep’s advice to the Linkedin community was – if someone asks for a small amount of your time that could end up making a big difference to them, just do it. Don’t over think it. It might not mean much to you but it could mean a lot to the other person. And, who knows, it might even change the trajectory of their lives.
I loved this story. While we do occasionally get the opportunity to do big things, we get lots of opportunities to do the little things. We always have the choice to do the little things meaningfully.
It is stories like this that remind us how special this life is and how lucky we are to be here. Here’s to the little things… and here’s to giving small bits of our time to those who might benefit from it…
The first time my wife (then-girlfriend) walked into my room in university, there wasn’t place for her to sit. I had a huge pile of laundered and unfolded clothes on the bed. When it was time to go to bed, I would move the pile onto my desk and go to sleep. I don’t really remember if she said much but the look on her face said it all.
A lot has changed since then. My rooms have become much neater (not neat enough is what she would say though :-)). But, the biggest change has been in the way I manage my work. I have become close to brutally organized over time and I believe that has greatly helped me get more done in a day. Choosing organization over disorganization has been a deliberate, learned, and logical choice.
Here’s why – day-to-day living is tough. It will take every ounce of energy and stamina you give it and still ask for more. And, if you make it a habit to constantly associate yourself with circles where people are better than you, you will soon notice that intelligence or aptitude are hardly ever going to make a difference. There are some folks who can get away based on pure smarts. But, they are few and far between. A larger percentage thinks they can but find it hard to pull it off. No, the successful folk I’ve met are those who marry smarts and aptitude for what they do with thoughtful strategy and tactics to approach life, relentless focus, high self-discipline and a seemingly never-ending reservoir of grit and persistence for things that matter.
And, all of this would be null and void if you didn’t have your proverbial “sh*t” together.
Someday, I hope I’ll be as organized in my personal life as I am in my professional life. I keep misplacing things all the time because I don’t keep things in their designated places – that results in much more wasted time and unnecessary stress than I’d like. But, I’m beginning to get the idea and I’m beginning to understand the sort of systems that will help. It’s a start. Being organized is a way of life, a way of living well.
And, if something is worth doing, I guess it is worth doing well…