Why me?

One of the little changes I’ve been happy about making over the past couple of years is not asking “why me?” when things don’t work out.

This change was due to a story I shared here a few years back. When tennis legend Arthur Ashe announced he had contracted HIV due to a poorly administered blood transfusion procedure after a heart surgery, he received letters from fans who asked why, of all people, had he been chosen to have AIDS?

To this Arthur Ashe reportedly replied – “The world over– 50,000,000 children start playing tennis, 5,000,000 learn to play tennis, 500,000 learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5,000 reach the grand slams, 50 reach the Wimbledon, 4 make the semi finals and 2 make the finals. When I was the one holding the cup, I never asked god “Why me?”.

It is a story that has stuck with me since.

If I’m not asking “why me?” when things do work, I have no right to ask “why me?” when things don’t.

Thank you for the gift of perspective, Arthur.

Why me?

Tiger – Spy in the Jungle

Thanks to some wonderfully innovative camera techniques involving elephants carrying cameras on their trucks and placing “log cams” at various parts of the forest, the BBC Wildlife Specials crew led by the one-and-only David Attenborough have a fantastic three part series called “Tiger – Spy in the Jungle.”

As elephants are treated as harmless inhabitants of the forest, they can come and go as they please. And, they do so with aplomb. Over a 3 year period, David Attenborough tells us the story of a mother raising 4 tiger cubs. Innovative filming techniques were required because tigers are solitary animals whose behavior is very different when humans are not around. It is also not easy to film in the dense Indian jungles.

I found it fascinating to watch the tiger cubs’ learning process. It begins with play among the siblings. Then, it is following their mother when she goes hunting. Their mother hones their skills over time through some skillful coaching intended to develop specific skills – the ability to carry the carcass, to complete a kill, to get as close to the prey as possible. It reminded me a lot of the process of deliberate practice. It was also delightful to see the cubs take every opportunity to play.

David Attenborough and BBC’s work to capture nature’s great sights and sounds is such a treat. I find that it elevates my understanding and appreciation for nature. Every one of these animal focused documentaries remind me how beautiful these animals are and how important it is for us to do our bit to maintain the delicate balance in nature.

This and more available on Netflix. They come highly recommended.

Tiger, Spy in the jungle

2 questions for most team dysfunctions

If you’ve worked in teams long enough, you realize pretty quickly that most dysfunctions come down to the answer to just two questions –

How much do you care about the cause and about each other?
How much do you trust each other to do the right thing?

They tend to be related. The more you are sure your teammates care, the more you are likely to trust and vice versa.

You know the best part? Neither is an innate ability we are born with. Both involve us making a choice.

Jobless Einstein

Albert Einstein was unemployed for two years following his Diploma. He was rejected from every research post he applied in Europe. He came to believe that a part of it had to do with the fact that his impudence had annoyed his thesis adviser. The rejections were tough for him to stomach because he (contrary to how he’s occasionally been portrayed in popular culture) was an excellent student.

Einstein’s letters from the time speak to his frustration, frequent disappointment and, at the same time, many bouts of optimism and self belief all at once. At his lowest point, he was so disheartened that he considered giving up his pursuit of a career in Physics for a career in Engineering at his father’s firm or even selling insurance.

Just when all hope seemed lost, his Marcel Grossman’s attempts to secure him a position as a patent examiner came through.

His Nobel prize winning papers were submitted while he was still an examiner.

This is Albert Einstein – probably the single greatest scientific mind that has ever existed – having difficulties finding a research job. Maybe we should remember that when our “plan A” doesn’t work out.

And, maybe, just maybe, when faced with plan B, we’ll remember what he did and knock the socks off our plan B.

jobless einstein

Yes, but, how much?

People throw around “I care about…” a lot. The pertinent question when you hear that the next time is not “Oh really, how nice!” but to say – “Yes, but how much?”

A few examples…
…do you care enough about your health to not just sign up for the best gym in town but to actually exercise 4 times a week?
…do you care enough about your family to walk out of the office in the evening and spend time with them?
…do you care enough about your mental energy and capacity to make decisions to get enough sleep?
…do you care enough about learning to actually read or to spend time with people who push you?
…do you care enough about your friends to interrupt your schedule to be there for them when they need you?

Sure, asking “but how much” might make you look impolite. So, ask different questions, politely if you will. But, ask.

The more you can call bullshit out by ignoring what people say and watching what people do, the less time you will spend fabricating stories that make you look good.. for the time being.

And, to be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong in not caring about yourself, your health, learning or your family and friends. If that’s how we behave, let’s at least call a spade a spade.

but how muchImage source

The two best pieces of health advice I have gotten

  1. Listen to your body
  2. When you fall sick, it is the universe’s way of saying – “Dude, take a break.”

I seem to think of these two pieces of advice nearly every time I don’t feel 100%. Years of paying attention to our bodies teach us a lot and I felt something was just not right this morning and it was better to get to it rather than push through and try to behave like nothing happened.

The agenda for today is Tylenol, rest and lots of TV, a.k.a, “dude, take a break” day. I am looking forward.

health adviceImage Source

The baldness game – The 200 words project

Six year old Emma had been undergoing therapy for cancer. The day after her head was shaved, she walked into class to find her classmates making fun of her. Emma dreaded going to school the next day.

When their teacher walked in the next day and greeted the kids in her usual cheerful way, she took off her scarf and showed off her bald head. The kids were all taken aback and, that evening, every one of them asked their parents to shave their heads bald.
The teacher saw opportunity in the little girl’s first day of suffering. She wore her bald head like a fashion statement and saw it as an opportunity to increase bonds, create solidarity, and most importantly, have fun. So, she created a game and everyone wanted to play.

Whenever we face a situation that creates winners and losers, it is probably worth reminding ourselves that we always have a choice to create a win-win game. The possibilities always exist.

Many circumstances that seem to block us in our daily lives may only appear to do so based on a framework of assumptions we carry with us. Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view. – Ben and Roz Zander, The Art of Possibility

baldnessImage Source

Source and thanks to: The Art of Possibility by Ben and Roz Zander