Making our gut smarter

More often than not we keep hearing that “trust your instincts.” While that works sometimes, what is important here is to make our instincts or guts smarter. Then, it makes sense to trust our instincts. So, how can we do this?

The more we practice something, the better we become at doing that thing. Similarly, we need to practice listening to our instincts often enough, so it gets smarter over time. Here are some ways to making our guts brighter:

  1. Practicing in private making a judgment call on something. Blogs are a great way to do this. They are also, free.
  2. Volunteering for a non-profit is another excellent way to do practice making judgments. It’s extremely low risk.
  3. Finding out a peer group to sharing and talking through your instincts so that they are no longer your instincts.

Education for transformation and destruction

Anything that has the power to transform our lives can also, cause destruction to our lives. For instance, electricity has transformed our lives yet it can cause destruction. Similarly, education can either transform or bring destruction depending on what we are being educated on. Global warming is a stark example of this.

If you think about it, are educated people or uneducated people ruining the planet? I am sure we have a unanimous answer here.

Perceived cost vs. actual cost

Seth Godin, in his interviews, always talks about his 40 billion dollar worth of t-shirt that reminds him of not being able to see the potential of the internet to build a company like Yahoo. If only he had seen what the founders of Yahoo had seen years ago, he would have been a billionaire by now. The t-shirt simply reminds him of the cost of not seeing the world as it is.

While we are good at calculating benefits, not many of us are good at calculating the (hidden) costs/price of things we enroll in our life. More often than not, we consider costs as simply the compromises we think we are making and not the compromises we are actually making.

Creation and Consumption are inversely related

When an economy progresses, its a sign of greater consumption. Thanks to the high degree of specialization of labor, we have become experts in consuming what other people have created.

But, it’s good to realize that while we may be getting richer in terms of accumulating material wealth and comforts, we aren’t getting any smarter. The renaissance man is something that we must aspire to become even though the market doesn’t reward it.

If you think you are spending way too much money on entertainment, eating out, and taking vacations, it’s a sign that you are consuming way more than what’s needed and creating way less than what’s needed. If we focus our efforts on creating things, we wouldn’t have time or energy to consume much.

Success is inevitable only in hindsight

In my research methods class, I learned that sometimes even when the model/formula is fit it still may not be good at predicting and making inferences about the larger population. Success is also, like that.

If we had a formula for success, we could predict the outcomes of a person’s actions over time. Unfortunately, here the variables keep changing over time and hence, it’s hard to develop a success formula or model. If we had a universal formula for success assuming the dependent factors are going to be constant over time, all of us could have simply followed the formula and become successful in whatever we aim.

When people talk about their success stories, they are simply stories that can be cooked up in hindsight. Success can be as random as it can get.

Competence triumphs passion

While we have been taught to dream, aspire, have ambitions, be passionate, and set goals since childhood, not many of us have been taught to focus more on cultivating our competence and skillset.

Our education system is to be blamed for this as it churns out “educated” people to serve a larger economic engine by making us all cogs in the machine.  The system is too much goal-oriented and it enhances our ego and desires but, never encourages us to keep learning to improve our competence and aptitude. As a result, we feel stressed out in the competition. A competent person will never feel stressed out amidst the competition.

Passion and desires without the necessary aptitude and competence will burn us down eventually. It will make us feel envious towards other successful people and is not helpful to us in any way.

It’s always a better strategy to work on constantly outsmarting ourselves instead of simply being passionate. It follows that working right is always better than finding the right work.


There’s no work-life balance, there’s only life

As I am about to have a child in my life, I have been hearing a lot of unsolicited “advice” on how to manage my life at this phase from people who haven’t yet figured out how to manage theirs. I am also, keeping away from reading many parenting books out there as many of them lack context and only have content.

All these recent events triggered in me this thought of work-life balance, one of the most discussed yet unresolved topics in today’s world. The more I thought about this topic, the more I develop this hunch that there’s no work-life balance, there’s only life. The balance must be within us.

We often tend to think more is better and hence, end up enrolling in several aspects of life only to realize later that we haven’t equipped ourselves with the necessary skills to perform all these activities. Unfortunately, parenting is one of these activities. Instead of enhancing the activities we do, a better strategy would be to enhance ourselves as human beings in terms of cultivating the required mindset, skills, and joyfulness. A consequence of this would be our life energies will be conserved for only those aspects of life necessary for us at that moment. And this is what brings balance to our lives.