About five years ago, I had a meeting with a very successful person. He had it all. But at that time of our meeting a very few, including me, knew he was going through a devastating phase of his life. He was sick, almost every business he was doing was collapsing, he was in debt, and he was about to take another loan on a new business.
He was so casual about the explanation. His story made me anxious about his future. But he was cool as a cucumber.
I asked him “Are you not worried?”
He snapped “Does it help my situation?”
That was one hell of a one liner. I thought he was bluffing. You know what is the kicker? Five years later, he’s now back in the game, better than where he was. He was not bluffing. He was true to his one liner.
We are living in an era where we 1) are constantly running out of time 2) also we can just binge away our time anyway we want it.
We are living in an era where time is an oxymoron.
The reality is we say yes to so many things that comes our way. Those small yes’s cancer its’ way through to our attention, to whatever there that is left. The problem with too many yes’s is that we lose touch with our inner voice.
We pick battles we know we cannot win. We become obsessed with complaints. We pick the smallest of bad apples out of sea of good vibes. We avoid hard questions about our lives. We emotionally conquer war on issues we have no control over whereas our own problems get pushed aside, thinking they will vanish somehow.
The way to realise our true self is by saying NO. saying NO to everything that comes our way so that we say NO as a habit. Why ? because we are primed to say yes out of courtesy, out of fear of missing out or just because we do not know how to say NO gracefully.
Saying no to many things releases our time and attention to things that matters to us
“Garbage in, garbage out” is true for processes and algorithms.
For our mind and body though, it is “garbage in, garbage accumulate”
The information we let our minds consume and the food we take in to our bodies grow our minds and bodies.
Too much consumption leads to lethargy in both mind and body.
The popular solution is meditation and exercise. But we find hard to start them.
The onboarding questions we can ask our selves are : How can I reduce the intake of information? How can I reduce taking unnecessary calories?
If we act on the 2 questions, we have reduced the garbage in, right from the source. We have less information to filter and less calories to burn. Then onboarding meditation and exercise becomes much easier.
I used to be a person who took vacations to escape from life. I thought that was the whole idea of it. So I would try to experience as much as I can during the vacation. I covered many places in short time, ate more and took hundreds of pictures to put on social media. I wanted the perfect experience, nothing could escape my needy attention.
That chapter is over.
The new chapter is different. Before vacation : the new approach to work. – The purpose of vacation now is not to escape from what I have. Because if I do, no matter what my intentions, I will carry them with me, in my mind, in my travels. – Now, instead I work with more sincerity and urgency at my financials, my emotions and my health before I take the vacation. – I would ask my self hard questions and try to answer/solve them.These are the questions I have avoided in life, because they are hard. – I have avoided the escape routes which are readily available to us like social media and binging TV series. I am not avoiding TV series, I am avoiding the process of binging.
The vacation: Relaxed exploring. – Now the purpose of the vacation is to explore new things and people. But I would select a limited number of activities. I would have conversations with local vendors, residents and staff of the hotels. – During the vacation I would be grateful for the time to relax and for the people who make that experience for me. I have seen people who come on vacation and get in to the hotel without unburdening themselves from their status in the social hierarchy. They are unkind to staff of hotels, local vendors and service providers. Though I was not that extreme, small doses of entitlement and expecting perfectionism was in me. I have witnessed that and affirmed myself not to be that. – I would go to the buffet and have a walk around the full offering without getting myself a plate. The plan is to pick what I would eat. Because consuming all in the buffet, no matter how tempting, is not good for my health or to enjoy the meal. Abundance is the path to misery. I would only pick and take portions that I am sure I will enjoy. No regrets later that I ate too much.
You might be thinking that this process is just too much and it’s not the way to enjoy when things are offered in abundance to you. I am not here to advocate or judge, simply sharing what is making me more peaceful and let me relax.
“Why not you speak to audiences about your leadership during the war in the frontlines ? “
I asked this question from a war veteran. He was brave, disciplined and proactive. He was a father to soldiers in his platoon, and had taken care of his family while sacrificing his prime years to the country. He was a role model people should know more of.
He smiled, patted on my back and said “I am afraid of public speaking”.
Room with a view is what we hope for when we book hotels for vacation. A balcony makes that view a lot more attractive. Yet a balcony that makes you comfortable is a very very rare thing.
There are balconies with views of roof tops, construction sites or in some cases blind walls :). Let’s remove them from this discussion.
The ones with good views, have balconies that are mostly useless. What you will find: – dilapidated chairs. Birds made it their toilet. Cannot sit on them. – Small space. You don’t feel good to be there. – No roof or the blacony is covered partially. It gets wet in rain and burn in sun. – Next room people can see you directly, it is awkward to relax. So you go back in the room.
Then I experienced a balcony that can be best described as almost perfect. No, let me not be mean, it was ‘the perfect’. Here goes.
-Let’s get the ‘view’ part away. It was wonderful, though this picture does not justify the real thing.
-Very comfortable chairs. Spotless clean. A round table: not large, not small either . A compact towel rack ( if you can see on the wall) for wet swim clothes to dry in the sun.
-A bed recliner with a cushion. Once again clean. That designer sensed what a person coming on a vacation needs from a balcony. Absolute privacy and loads of comfort. As you can see, people next door has absolutely no view of me. I loved this recliner. I have never enjoyed a hotel stay like this one. I slept, meditated, read, and repeated.
-The roof ! Protects you from heavy rain. Sun cannot scorch you. A bit of sun trickles through, yes, but you can stay the whole day with no issues.
Most of digital transformation projects in organisations are like most of the balconies. People spend lot of time in defining the project, yet forget the ultimate users: the business user ( employee who will use the solution daily), and the customer. We tend to think we have both of them in our best interest. Unfortunately it is not, most of the time.
In my work at aucterra, building AI solutions for organisations and as a business consultant on digital transformation, I meet a lot of business users. Some of their experiences are horror stories. So much money and effort spent on mega projects that business users find hard to use. Sometimes the new technology have complicated their processes. A frustrated business user will hardly make a customer happy.
That’s why we at aucterra use SPRINT framework developed by Google Ventures, before starting any project. It is a process that has customer at the heart of innovation. It starts with customer and ends with customer. The process : Map the problem, Generate a lot of solutions, Select the best 3-4 solutions, Then select one critical part of the solution and build a prototype with in a quick time. Then finally test the prototype with 5 actual customers. Yes, all these with in just 5 days.
Here’s an example of the power of compound interest. Let’s say you put a fixed deposit of Rs.100,000 in a bank account which gives you 7% annual interest. You absolutely do nothing else. You let it be in the bank account to accumulate with the interest year after year. In 10 years, you’d have Rs.200,000. You doubled your money because you let the money accumulate with interest. You doubled your money with just the compound interest. You did absolutely nothing, but to put that 100,000 at the start. But this “you did absolutely nothing” is misleading. Here you are doing a very hard thing. A challenge that most of the people in this planet is not capable to do. The challenge is to “NOT touch that saving” for a long period of time. Our immediate impulse when we have some savings is to spend it on something we desire. We think “what is the point of saving when we cannot enjoy the present moment”. Lot of people give in to that, upgrading life frequently at the expense of building a safety net. I used to be one, and that was painful.
Let’s say you are a good saver. Not only you put Rs. 100,000, but you put 10,000 each month for 10 years at 7% annual interest. You let the interest accumulate monthly. You would have Rs. 1,931,814 at the end of 10 years.
Let’s say you are a super saver. Not only you put Rs. 100,000, but you put 20,000 each month for 10 years at 7% annual interest. Let the interest accumulate monthly. You would have Rs. 3,662,662 at the end of 10 years.
A man in motor cycle jacket and helmet comes in to the shop and shows a yellow card printed with rows and columns. The shop owner reaches for his drawer, pulls out a similar yellow card. Shop owner gives Rs. 1500/- to the man. Both of them scribble on their cards, swap them, and smile through the masks.
Later I got to know that it was the process for daily collection. The shop owner has taken a Rs. 30,000 loan. Term is to pay back 33,000 with in a month. Shop owner pays 1500/- each day until he reaches 33,000.
This system runs with out collaterals. Runs on trust. Runs on risk not documented . In some cases fear is the collateral.
This is one snapshot of the unbanked in Sri Lanka. The shop keeper is not worthy enough for banks to lend. So the shop keeper has to find alternatives with in his means. It is high interest, sure, but it is what he has.
The shop owner explained me the benefits he receive through the system. – He was not charged any interest during the covid lockdown months. The lender has been very reasonable. Even most of the banks could not live up to that standard. – He can pay back the loan in any number of instalments, as long as it is completed with in a month.
Also I learnt the next door shop owner has taken a Rs. 100,000 loan from the same lender and have fled never to be reached again. Bad debts.