FTOTW133 – best links of the week ending 26-October-2014

Prolog

Here are the best links shared on my tweet stream this week.

Best Links

  1. One organism takes over another’s mind & body – Extended Phenotypes by @carlzimmer http://t.co/QSIF4hIyrO ~ brilliant & fascinating – Original Tweet

  2. RT @chennaikaran How the quest for happiness can have a big downside. http://t.co/x5J9ulXRKs ~ brilliant – Original Tweet

  3. RT @mythosmir The first glow-in-the-dark road has opened in Oss, the Netherlands: http://t.co/nHFZIKVsA0 http://t.co/XAEqMDepmb ~ vv cool – Original Tweet

  4. How to find innovative ideas? by Isaac Asimov http://t.co/xUAPfDWkni ~ vv insightful /Via @ntarunkumarOriginal Tweet

  5. Why a good story is the most important thing you will ever sell http://t.co/t16SrLZ4NT ~ vv insightful /Via @rs_prasannaOriginal Tweet

Epilog

Hope you enjoyed the links? Did you come across any good links you want to share? Please share in the comments below.

References

I use a certain ratings scale for my annotations which are explained here.


Helping by feeling

Imagine how you will feel if someone you care about is dealing with something painful. You feel like helping them deal with the situation. I also feel like that a lot of times. In my attempt to console them, I would say, “It is fine. It could have been much worse.” and other such insensitive statements. After observing my own experiences and reading the thoughts of others, I have come to understand that there is a kinder way of consoling others.

Feeling what they are feeling. Putting myself in their shoes. Getting rid of pre-conceived notions. Empathy. That is the way to console.

When I tried it, I could feel what they were feeling and could understand. The best thing was that I wasn’t getting pulled into the drama as I was an outsider. I was able to look at it in a logical point of view and at the same time, understand what they were feeling.

It is very important to not encourage them in feeling sorry for themselves or feel victimized by telling them “It’s ok. You couldn’t help it. I don’t know what the gods were thinking. Putting an innocent person like you through this”. This can be very damaging for self-esteem. Instead, I realized that I should just be with them and not encourage anything. Later, when my friend was in a more positive, open frame of mind, I spoke to them more logically. Sometimes, I thought I was giving them a positive outlook on things and kept harping on how things could have been worse like “Things could have been much worse. At least no one is dead”. Even though my intentions were good, I failed to realize that they were affected a lot by their problems and cannot understand it. I should listen with an open mind and really understand their view of the problem without jumping to conclusions and saying that they are over-reacting (“You’re not thinking straight, darling. You are making a mountain out of a mole hill “). One simple method I use to empathize is thinking of a similar problem I faced in the past and identify with how they must be feeling currently.

Empathy is the best solution to consoling my friends and they feel that they can trust me more as they feel that I can understand them. It’s nice to feel that I can be of some help when my near and dear ones are in distress just by showing a little empathy.


FTOTW132 – best links of the week ending 19-October-2014

Prolog

Here are the best links shared on my tweet stream this week.

Best Links

  1. RT @GautamGhosh: The link between curiousity, interest, engagement, attention and learning http://t.co/OGKMv1zOBy ~ brilliant – Original Tweet

  2. RT @rucsb: Why the world’s greatest innovators are optimistic, but skeptical: http://t.co/llxaa8Nqpk http://t.co/5YpEwpsNMd ~ brilliant – Original Tweet

  3. RT @carlzimmer Your skin is packed with odor receptors http://t.co/9HCjcL9Au6 ~ Amazing – Original Tweet

  4. RT @SameerPatel: Here’s what 9,000 years of breeding has done to corn, peaches, and other crops http://t.co/SbRPtwBQjh ~ vv interesting – Original Tweet

  5. RT @AMAnet: Lou Gerstner on corporate reinvention and values. (via @McKQuarterly) #Leadership | http://t.co/CEJbjJTrlz ~ vv insightful – Original Tweet

Epilog

Hope you enjoyed the links? Did you come across any good links you want to share? Please share in the comments below.

References

I use a certain ratings scale for my annotations which are explained here.


I hate peanut butter

I used to hate peanut butter – didn’t  like the smell or the looks of it, so no question of tasting it. Like many other things in my life, this hatred didn’t survive my marriage :) My wife, Priya Raju, made a peanut butter jelly (a.k.a PBJ) sandwich and forced me to eat it. With great reluctance, I obeyed the boss’ orders. Lo and behold, it tasted so good that I was hooked. PBJ  is a regular fixture at the breakfast table to this day.

My tryst with beer was a bit different. The first time I tasted beer was, when I had just started working at my first job in Mumbai. While my colleagues seemed to be enjoying their beer, I didn’t quite like it. One of my colleagues looked at me and said “I can see you don’t like the beer. you have to cultivate a taste for it man.” Exactly as my colleague pointed out, I did start enjoying my beer over time, al though my wife still insists that it tastes like piss :)

At this time, you are well within your rights to wonder where I am going with peanut butter and beer. I have been having a series of discussions about motivation with some of my mentees and this post is a result of those discussions. They unearthed a ton of material around motivation – Extrinsic, Intrinsic, Maslow’s theory, ABC theory, 7 Habits, Purpose, Passion, Learning, Helping Others….  While all these points were accurate, I wanted a radically simpler way of understanding motivation and here is my attempt at that.

Before you start in a job, you have a mental picture of it, mostly drawn from what others say, because you don’t have  first hand experience yet. My first project was a maintenance project and I was very unhappy about it because everyone around me said that I should try to work in a development project and that maintenance projects were boring. With great reluctance I joined my project and much like my Peanut Butter moment, I enjoyed my project a lot after I started working in the project for a few weeks. I learnt a lot about good & bad design, good & bad coding etc. To fix a bug was like cracking a puzzle. To fix a bug and not introduce more bugs was a big challenge. I loved my job.

During my time as a developer, I formed a mental model of a manager as someone that is not very useful – just an unnecessary overhead, I thought. And so I concluded that I never wanted to be a manager. With great reluctance I became a manager because of the organization’s policies. I didn’t like the job of manager at all. And given my mental model of the manager, I sucked at this job. At some point, my work as a leader had become so stressful, that I had lost 10 pounds and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. After some deep soul searching and with help from my wife and others, I reinvented myself. I started doing better and better as a leader and guess what, I started loving the job of a manager/leader – the Beer moment.

My hatred for exercise is another example of where I moved from hatred to love. So when we succumb to the usual advice that is trotted out – do what you love – we fail to consider the fact that the job we don’t like today could be our Beer moment – we may have to cultivate a taste for it. In other words, it is not necessary that the things that we don’t like today will forever remain that way.  

I found one more signal that our brain gives when we don’t like some aspect of our job (or even the whole job),  we procrastinate. If we focus on what we procrastinate and try to motivate ourselves, we can eliminate our hatred for it. One way is to use Tiny Changes.

There is one more strategy I learnt in my first job. Remember I hated maintenance at first – my maintenance project was at a leading hospital in Mumbai. One of the doctors came to my desk and said she had found a bug and it had to be fixed urgently. Perhaps she sensed my disinterest and gave me a challenge – “fix the bug in one hour and I will buy you lunch”.  That got me going and I fixed the bug in 45 minutes flat. In other words, create a challenge for yourself in a job that you don’t like to do. It could work wonders, like it did for me.

Are there other strategies that you use to game your own brain and get you to do things you don’t like? Please chime away in the comments section.

P.S. A few people had requested me to write a guest post on Meenaks’ blog on C2. I took them up on that request. This post was shared on Meenaks’ C2 blog which is internal to Cognizant today morning. Thanks Meenaks.

 

 


FTOTW131 – best links of the week ending 12-October-2014

Prolog

Here are the best links shared on my tweet stream this week.

Best Links

  1. Dananjaya Hettiaracchi “I see something” toastmasters world championship winner http://t.co/Vgbi0lMufv ~ brilliant /Via @SriniKrishnan-FB – Original Tweet

  2. RT @law_ninja: The Science Behind How Emotions Lead to Smarter Decisions http://t.co/1qvj8kShnl ~ vv insightful – Original Tweet

  3. RT @kaalicharan: Writer Creates “Color Thesaurus” To Help You Correctly Name Any Color Imaginable http://t.co/giqMiYnbrA ~ vv cool – Original Tweet

Epilog

Hope you enjoyed the links? Did you come across any good links you want to share? Please share in the comments below.

References

I use a certain ratings scale for my annotations which are explained here.