At every stage people come and go in your life, but one thing is always guaranteed- they all teach you valuable lessons.
Also, in your journey towards your destination, you will come across many things that you learn on your own, which stay with you and remind you of your dharma (duty or the way of living or the reason you were put on earth for). These learnings don’t really surface in your mind until you come across situations where you have to apply them.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just make a note of the most important lessons you have learnt so far so you can come back after a few years and reminisce your journey as a person?
So, I suggest all of you reading this to remember and analyse all the advice or lessons you have received and categorise them as those that are useful to you and those that are not really meant for you. Doing this activity not only allows you to remember what you learnt in life and strengthens your memory around them, but it also allows you to discover yourself in the process.
In this article, I have done just that. The worst advice may not really be worst for everyone. It just means they were not applicable to my path.
1. There will always be resistance to change
I remember the first day in my managerial role, I was a bit nervous and unsure about myself and was still trying to deal with the whole impostor syndrome. I noticed that my colleagues, who realised my position, were now looking at me all weird- it was a mix of envy, disgust, contempt and a whole lot of negative vibes which I could sense and it made me uncomfortable. During lunch that day, I spoke to one of my mentors who then gave me this valuable piece of advice, “Priya, there will always be resistance to change. It’s human nature to not like anything that threatens the status quo. I’m sure many times you have found your own mind resisting to any sort of change. The best way to overcome this is by communicating to yourself and to others, and to come to terms with the reason why a change is necessary and how it may help in the future.”
This resonated with me and I decided to keep this advice with me for the rest of my life because I know if there is one thing in my life that would be a constant it would be CHANGE and I would like to have a weapon in my armory to deal with it.
2. Focus on providing value
The more number of people’s lives you are able to impact, the more are you valued. This is a simple logic. If you think why Jeff Bezos is valued in billions, it’s simple, just imagine the number of people whose lives are impacted by Amazon. If you want to improve your income just think about how many people your work impacts currently and then expand the scope of it.
“Give and you shall receive!”
Successful entrepreneurs know this which is why they focus on giving value to the users first and if they do it successfully they start making money.
3. Your network= your net worth
If you have been following my blogs, you will know by now how much I emphasise on a good network. Being with like minded people and especially people who want to grow and are expecting more out of their lives, rubs off on you in a positive way. I’m not saying those who are content with their lives are not important. But it’s just a matter of what one might want in their life at that particular time. For me, this phase of my life is meant for achieving greater things, there definitely would be a time in future when I would want to be content and I might want to surround myself with more laid back folks. The gist of it is, whatever network you choose determines how your life is going to be.
They say right, ‘You’re The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time’ which is actually quite true.
4. Pay attention
This is my favourite advice because it is just so difficult to implement. This was again and again emphasised by my favourite philosopher, Sadhguru. I, like most of the people in today’s generation, suffer with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I’m sure most of you are not even paying attention to what you are reading now. How many times was your mind distracted to other things while reading this? The same happens with me all the time. But most successful entrepreneurs have the innate ability to focus on something for a long period of time, and this is what it means to be giving undivided attention to something. In this video Sadhguru profoundly says, “The reason we usually don’t pay attention is because of our arrogance that we already know it”. This resonated true with me. Usually, I stop listening when I know what the other person is trying to say or my mind wanders between the text of an article when I feel confident about knowing the subject. But at the end of the day it’s all arrogance and will hinder your life.
With increased attention it’s easier to see things that others may not see, such as opportunities, misfortunes, truths, deceptions etc and be better prepared for them.
I am consciously trying to be more attentive and focused while minimising distraction. Binaural beats are really helpful in keeping you in a focussed state in case you are working alone. Coffee too can help with adult ADHD. My work day generally would not start without a cup of coffee.
5. You can design your destination
One can choose their destination. One can create it. For example: I once wanted to backpack alone across Tamil Nadu. I planned for it, the location, the mode of transport, the stay and the date and time when I would reach the place. I had a blast. It was the first time I had done something on my own and I totally owned that experience. Suppose I never had this plan in my head and just had a half hearted wish to travel. What I would have ended up doing is tagging along with a group of friends who were planning for a vacation collectively, on dates that may or may not be very convenient to me, by means that may or may not be too comfortable. That’s a lot of variables, with most of them out of your control.
When you know you want to sketch a picture of Monalisa, you will somehow complete it. It may look unsatisfactory or may not result being as great as the original painting (What are the odds!). But atleast you were aware of what outcome to expect. Imagine if you start drawing without any idea what you want to draw, the outcome will almost always not be as per your expectation (and 9 out of 10 be a disappointment). I have a mental image of what my destination looks like and I urge you to have the same as it gives you something to work towards.
Having said that, I do also believe that having a boarder vision for life and allowing a fair amount of flexibility gives you room to be a lot more spontaneous.
1. Don’t be self critical
I have been told that negative self talk is more hurtful than helpful. To a certain extent it is true but need not necessarily be so always. You know there are two types of people right? 1. The soft, sensitive, touchy ones and 2. the bratty ones that need a thrashing now and then to make them fall in line. I, like some of you, fall under the percentage of bratty population that need a sound thrashing once a while. For an adult, the thrashings are difficult to come from the usual source- family. Once you grow up your family members begin to think of you as an independent person who can handle anything and who is basically sorted. But you know you aren’t. You’re just a messed up piece of sh#t that your loving family have no idea about. So who else can be your critic apart from the only person who has an entire list of shortcomings- YOU.
2. Don’t get your emotions involved
I have heard this time and again. Every time I have to make a logical decision, I get advised by everyone around me especially my peers at work to not get too emotional and to think logically.
Take for instance a situation where you have to hire a candidate, you see a person who matches your requirement on papers but when you meet them, they may not match your wavelength. What would any logical person do? Take an emotional decision of course, and reject the person, while using the logical brain to justify reasons- such as maybe the person lacks team spirit, has attitude problems, lacks communication skills etc. Several studies conclude that up to 90 percent of the decisions we make are based on emotion. We use logic to justify our actions to ourselves and to others. Take note that emotion usually wins over logic.
3. Keep practicality away from personal life
You might think the above and below points are contrary to each other, trust me they are not. Let me explain. The previous one says it’s okay to allow your emotions to influence your decisions, while in this point what I am saying is, I do not agree when people say that one must only use emotions in personal life and leave practicality and logic to career and other such aspects. Let me take the most easy to relate example. People say that one must be blind in love as it is a matter of the heart and not the mind. I completely disagree. According to Rick Sanchez from ‘Rick and Morty’, “What people call love is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed. It hits hard and slowly fades leaving you stranded in a failing marriage”. That’s such a practical outlook to life. Maybe we don’t have to think in such extremes, but a bit of practicality is required to analyse the risks vs rewards ratio in every situation.
4. Be a specialist
Being a specialist, they say, is important for success. Nothing can be far from the truth. there is a saying “Jack of all trades and master of none” which undermines the value of the breadth of knowledge emphasising only on the depth. But, here’s the thing- to be a master at one, you need to be a jack of a lot of trades. David Epstein, in his book ‘Range’ discusses why generalists triumph in a specialised world. Here is his example to support it, “A person who is early on a bilingual can learn a different language better than a monolingual because it creates like a palette for them to learn new lingual skills more quickly”. According to his ‘Dark horse study’ most of the successful people thought they were the odd ones as they didn’t know what to do in their lives and didn’t take a straight path to their ultimate profession. Majority of successful people sampled many different roles in many different fields before zeroing-in on one path.
Don’t be quick to marry your first career option, instead date many different roles and career opportunities. When you take up new skills or face new problems it will feel messy but it’s a great sign that you are learning.
5. Rejection does not mean you are not good enough
This is BS. You’re rejected, of course, you are not good enough! Why else would you be rejected? But, you can get better if you put in the effort. When you go into the world with a mindset that if you are rejected it’s not your problem but the other party’s problem in not recognising just how good you are, you are going to be screwed. This attitude leaves you no scope for improvement.
Here, I’ll take an example of a job interview situation. Suppose you get rejected in your first interview. But you come home and think, ‘Well, it’s not my problem they rejected me. I’m still awesome and I don’t need to prepare more’. This would not only help you get more rejections until you finally recognise the fact that you need to get better, but would also cost you a lot of time.
It took me time to reflect on all my learnings in the last decade or so and sift through them one by one. In the process I was re-learning a lot of things and overall the exercise was a productive one. I advise every one to do the same and come up with some advice that were absoute pearls and those that were aboslute BS and put them in the comments.