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Here’s why a personal “tortoise shell” is necessary for personal and career growth

FOMO is something that everyone goes through nowadays because of the deluge of new content on social media and content platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Visibility is given a lot of importance as continuous and multiple interactions are viewed as the recipe for increasing one’s sphere of influence. However, it is important to prioritize one’s own self development and spiritual goals and take a brief departure from the buzz of interactions. This stance can help you recharge and introspect about the way ahead disengaged from the outside world. So, deploying your “tortoise shell” needs some minor adjustments to your life. You can do this by following the tips outlines below:

  • Take a sabbatical
  • Take a break from your your social circle
  • Work on one or 2 high priority goals

Let’s look at each of the above in detail:

Take a sabbatical

Sometimes going through the grind day in and day out does not give enough bandwidth for a person to introspect and re evaluate one’s goals. I am not advocating quitting your job suddenly but if you feel that you need a change of pace and want to switch careers. It is advisable to time the sabbatical whenever you are switching jobs and the length of the sabbatical should typically be between 1 and 3 months for you to reset and unfurl your new roadmap.

Take a break from your your social circle

Sometimes a break from the social circle is best release one can get as one seeks to unclutter their mind. Outside opinions and external influences are difficult to disengage from when one seeks to make career/ lifestyle changes. The break from the social circle is something that you can time to overlap with your sabbatical time. This tactic is mostly recommended if you are a introvert or an ambivert. One can also consciously decide to not get influenced by any external influences for a period of time and still be in touch (but this requires great discipline as conversation threads can reverberate in your memory forcing you to second- guess.

Work on one or 2 high priority goals

Time during a “tortoise shell” period can be used effectively to focus on and pursue goals like doing a certification or course(s) that you feel will give you an edge. One does not need to broadcast about the type of goals that one is working on during this period as that would invite more opinions. Those very close to you (most times this just means family) are the ones that need to be in the loop as you make incremental progress on your goals.

So, there it is: my 3 point plan for resetting and continuous growth. The above 3 points need lot of planning and single minded dedication to execute. I would like to recommend 2 books that expand upon the principles that I outlined in this post: DeepWork by Cal Newport and 7 Habits of Highly Effective people by Stephen Covey. Hope this post helps you ūüôā

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Is Astrology a hoax?

When Stalin assumed the post of Chief Minister (CM) of Tamil Nadu after the recently concluded Tamil Nadu elections, a viral video that caught my attention showed H Raja, a politician commenting that he has researched Stalin’s horoscope and found that the there was practically a zero chance of Stalin becoming the CM. There was also an article that was published in a prominent astrology journal that ruled out his chances. There is a saying that “All’s fair in love and war” and election is generally a war of sorts but astrology should not be used as a weapon to influence the minds of people in any way whatsoever as it is could be utilized as tool of subversion on a grand scale. Let me explain:

Astrology supposedly can predict the trajectory of an individual’s life based on his/her’s time of birth. A recent video I saw on Vijay TV shows a doctor pointing out that the time of birth in an overcrowded hospital (where multiple births may occur at the same time) may not be recorded accurately always. Most of the so called astrological based software that is used nowadays rely heavily on the time of birth of the individual. Also, the fulcrum of the astrological belief is that there are 9 planets which is in itself proved to be wrong. The fact that a lot of universities offer degrees in astrology makes it that much more difficult for the general public to decide on the genuineness of astrology.

I personally do not believe in astrology as I have experienced first hand the death of a close friend of my family, ironically an astrologer, through suicide and because astrology has not predicted any major calamities like the tsunami or the coronavirus outbreak (the videos that are available on Youtube have included a lot of generalizations that could be interpreted in multiple ways). People in general are curious about the future and astrology helps to alleviate anxieties about the future and provide reasons for the shortcomings. Since astrology has a very heavy overlap with religion, people still consider it to be a central guiding force. However, what people fail to understand is that Life is in general a messy affair with several circuitous routes and it is up to us to enjoy Life’s essence without using astrology to predict all of Life’s twists and turns.

To people who point about how there is a software that uses astrological principles to predict, let me point out that it is fairly easy to design software that publishes certain outputs for certain inputs (basically designing an algorithm to help make predictions in the way we constrain them). Also, just because a degree is there for a subject does not mean that it is a valid indictor for genuineness. All you have to do to design a course is to put together a curriculum and a community willing to swear by it. The reason I felt compelled to write this post is because I come across a lot of people who go into a shell (or) accept periods of inactivity just because an astrologer or astrology based app (more common nowadays) said that it is a “bad time” for them. When you accept that your temporary misfortune or lack of progress is due to “bad time”, you fail to grasp that failures help unearth valuable lessons for future progress. If you are a big fan of “The Big Bang Theory” ,there is an episode where the character Sheldon, who is shown as a scientist, laments the fate of people who believe in astrology and homeopathy.

In conclusion, anyone who believes in astrology chooses to live a life restrained by verbal jugglery and non science.

Check out my earlier post on astrology : Do Horoscopes give you a Plan B?

The Great Indian Novel: Book Review

I was finally able to get some time to read a novel after a long time (I generally prefer reading non- fiction books) and chose to read Shashi Tharoor’s “ The Great Indian Novel“.

The title of a book is usually the first thing that grabs attention but the fact that it was Shashi Tharoor’s first novel and that the premise of the novel involved the story outline of one of India’s greatest epics of all time, The Mahabaratha, was very enticing.

My first exposure to The Mahabaratha saga was during my childhood when I saw some glimpses of the epic story telecast via TV serial episodes broadcast via Doordarshan. I never really understood the fascination at that time as it was too complex for my 5 year restless brain to dissect and assimilate. Coming back to the present day, as I read page after page of The Great Indian Novel my appreciation for the Mahabaratha and Shashi Tharoor’s talent to weave images of real Indian political characters into the story, grew manifold.

Tharoor has drawn caricatures and camouflaged the foibles of India’s most celebrated political stalwarts who helped shape the destiny of the Indian nation (and Pakistan and Bangladesh). The novel is right up there in the list of best Indian novels as it uncovers several details which let the readers peek into India’s pre-Independence and post-Independence days.

If you are looking for a quick journey that will help you understand the central theme of the Mahabaratha and politics of pre-independent India, The Great Indian Novel is highly recommended

Should bowlers be expected to attack in pairs?

The IPL 2020 has shown us that innovation and unpredictability are still very much part of T20 cricket.

A new tactic that some teams (Royal Challengers Bangalore being one of them)are starting to use during the Power Plays is bowling 3 or 4 different bowlers in a row. This is a very astute tactic as this gives the bowling team the option of maintaining the unpredictability and having the option to switch ends for the bowler who is deemed most effective.

Batsmen who previously used to take a few balls to gauge the nature of the pitch and the bowlers lines and lengths are suddenly exposed to a lot of variety within a short time leaving the batsmen very little time to adjust and capitalize on the limited time afforded during the Powerplay. This effectively reduces the batting team’s run rate and increases the chances of wicket taking for the bowling team.

The usage of this tactic seems to have various possibilities :

  1. Should bowlers continue operating in pairs for a spell in Tests and ODIs?
  2. Can having 3 or 4 bowlers operating in tandem force the batsmen to commit errors?
  3. Will this reduce the effectiveness of the strategy of having a left-right batting combination to induce mistakes due to frequent line changes.

Let’s hope that the COVID-19 pandemic is over soon so that more cricket is played across the various formats for us to check if this strategy will evolve and be adopted.

The New Age of Enticing Clutter

In the recently concluded elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a second term. While I am not a huge supporter of BJP, I have always believed that a person needs sufficient time to effect lasting change and because of this reason, I was relieved to see Narendra Modi get a second term in a row. However, the tactics employed by the ruling party to garner votes and attention seemed to indicate general trend towards favouring the popular sentiment rather than what is logical or backed by facts.

All the campaigns were tailored to get mass appeal. There was a movie that was strategically released to malign a former prime minister. Another movie about Narendra Modi had to be postponed for release after the elections because it would surely have influenced the elections (however the controversy behind the stay generated enough attention to influence voters). Some of the methods were unconventional; an interview by a popular Bollywood actor had Modi reveal how Barack Obama was concerned by his excessive hard work. All these campaign had one underlying theme : anything to win (or) in more polished terms, All’s fair in love and war.

The opposing party was no match and could not mount a decent challenge to the extremely creative and focused election campaign tactics by the BJP. This points towards a possibility of future elections being driven by “mass appeal” generating rhetoric rather than messages of substances. Maybe, the society itself has transformed and is more sympathetic to the flashy campaigns as no one really has time to scratch beyond the surface? Let’s see and hope for the best..

 

 

Should Indian Farmers pay income tax?

I was watching closely the protests by the Tamil Nadu farmers at Delhi recently and was intrigued by why income tax is not levied on farmers. I understand that some of the poorer farmers cannot afford to pay income tax but can’t the government set some limit,say, income from farming above 15 lakhs per annum (which is a very reasonable lower limit compared to the rest of the population) is taxable. It seems very unfair that some rich farmers take advantage of the loan waivers and get the benefits from the tax payers’ money.

It is high time that we stop being emotional about farming and farmers and consider them as ordinary citizens who have a responsibility to contribute to the development of the country like people from other professions.

What you see is what you don’t get..

Very often we see news on the TV and Internet that incites passions and polarises views.One can never be sure of the real reason the media is propagating this news.

Is it to ensure that justice is meted out correctly or is it just a cheap stunt to spike TRP ratings?

Is it,then, worthwhile to engage in speculations when we can never be sure that someone may be orchestrating a revolution with intentions that are not in alignment with our values?

I have developed a simple checklist ¬†to help navigate through general chatter or gossip.Here it is :–

  1. Can this piece of information be used a tidbit in a future conversation ? (“No man is an island” and sometimes you need to break the ice).
  2. Does this piece of information contribute to my personal growth? (Growth = Better financial position,improvement of job skills or general physical well-being)
  3. Is this information useful for others?
  4. Does it affect me financially?
  5. Does it affect my family?

If the answer is a resounding “NO” to any one of the above questions, I don’t bother paying attention and move forward.A lot of people get too concerned about global events and pay no attention to events that happen in their immediate vicinity.There is no point in getting worked up about something if you are not going to be affected in anyway (especially when you don’t have the power to change anything). You can save yourself from a lot of stress and wasted time by just looking for relevancy…Productivity and Good Health will follow.

 

Here’s why how you spend your ‘Downtime’ is important

Hobbies.

The word conjures up mental images of activities that we engage in when we are in a relaxed state . Most people simply equate hobbies with something that they do when they don’t work.When interviewees at a job interview are asked what their hobbies are, answers are given without much thought about the true intent of the question .

Hobbies offer a significant view of a person’s character as it affords more than a glimpse of how a person chooses to spend his time away from office (or study,if you are a student).In fact,hobbies offer a binocular view of a person’s perspective.

What you do in your “downtime” plays a part in devleoping effectiveness and efficiency in your “uptime”.In this post,I will attempt to highlight the significance of hobbies during job searches.

Hobbies can be classified into 2 broad categories :–

1.Consumption Type

2.Creation Type

Consumption Type hobbies are those  that typically involve consuming some kind of content without any kind of active participation.Examples are Surfing the Internet,watching movies,sight-seeing,watching sports and listening to music .These kind of hobbies do not require any special effort/attention to engage in and does not necessarily help build skills (though they help reduce stress).

Creation type hobbies are those that require active participation from the individual and helps in building skills as they involve the usage of your intellect and/or moving your body. Examples are : playing some musical instrument,photography,writing,playing sports,running,swimming,to name a few.

When you only have hobbies that focus on “consuming” it indicates that you are not too keen on building skills for self-development.Reading is an exception here as it help to build your intellect by expanding your inventory of ideas though it appears to be merely a consuming activity.

So,the next time you list your hobbies on a resume, be sure to list activities that indicate that you spent your time honing some skill.Reduce the number of consumption type hobbies that you list and limit them to two.Your hobby may help build peripheral skills that are relevant to the job that you apply for.This does not mean you have to lie about your hobbies;if you do not have a creation type hobby,start one immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dhak Dhak Dhoni

Every person goes through moments in life where totally unrelated events,facts or occurrences form a sudden pattern in one’s mind revealing a totally new idea or concept.

I was reading Blink by Malcom Gladwell recently and something he outlined in his book suddenly gave me a totally different perspective. According to Malcom Gladwell’s research,when the heart rate of a person is between 115 beats and 145 beats even during stressful situations performance is optimal; beyond that your mind goes into overdrive and become mind-blind to reach a state of autism.This leads to “rush of blood” and foolish decisions.That is the reason why people are asked to take deep breaths during stressful situations as breathing in reduces heart rate and helps you think straight.

Okay,so now I have explained one fact. How is this relevant to the title of this article? “Dhak” is the Hindi word used to refer to heartbeat and Dhoni is the name of one of the most iconic Indian cricketers of all time.

Dhoni or MSD as he is otherwise referred to is known for his ice cool demeanor in crunch situations. After one more nail-biting run chase,he discussed his strategy to “get the heart rate down first” to then increase it near the finish line. After I read Blink,I understood the significance of what he said;when you remain calm and then up the ante suddenly, your opponent (particularly inexperienced players) is likely to lose composure and make mistakes which Dhoni could then capitalize on.

I am pretty sure that Dhoni would not have known the science behind the controlling of heart rate but nevertheless his razor sharp cricketing brain could see the connection.A valid reference point from this is that when one faces a dilemma of sorts in a pressure situation always strive to keep your heart rate down (by breathing in) to maintain mental clarity.

 

 

Separating gas from substance..

Recently when I was reading the newspaper I came across an article that cited a reference to theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking who speculated that the current pollution levels would force humans into outer space in another 1000 years.

My first thought when I came across this was:

“Why quote something which cannot be verifiable in the immediate future?”.

If I make ¬†a prediction with a time-frame included,I prove that I am authentic enough to face the music if my claims are unproven.Quoting someone as celebrated as Stephen Hawking to make a point is merely feeding the hyperbole (or someone who just saw “After Earth” wanting to believe that the line dividing imagination and reality can blur easily).Though companies like SpaceX led by Elon Musk are making serious inroads towards making space colonization a reality,mass migration cannot be tied to pollution as technological advances may drastically reduce or reverse the effects of pollution in a few hundred years,let alone a thousand years

Here is another example,Voltaire,a famous French author made another grandiose claim when he said that this : “I will go through the forest of the Scriptures and girdle all the trees and so that in one hundred years,Christianity will be but a vanishing memory!!”.Well,Christianity is still flourishing today.

If someone make a claim and does not include a time-frame as an additional caveat,it would be foolhardy to pay attention.

So the next time someone makes a claim that excites your senses or is in alignment with a particular agenda,the questions that should be asked are:

  • How soon will this happen?
  • Will this happen within the lifetime of the person making the claim?
  • ¬†Am I just quoting this because it excites my senses?

If you don’t get convincing¬†answers,it is just “gas”and lacks substance.