26

3 things I’m thinking about as I complete my 26th year –

1. Self confidence and the unwillingness to compromise on what matters. The primary reason for starting this blog was to learn to get over my own insecurities and build self confidence. I’ve learnt a few things about confidence over these past few years and a key part of this learning has been the understanding that confidence doesn’t come from dots, it comes from lines. So, a consistent set of small wins does more good for your confidence than an out-of-the-blue big achievement. It is that realization that’s led to an intense, obsessive, sometimes pedantic, focus on process over the past few years. This focus on process has resulted in better results, more happiness and, over time, more confidence.

I’ve begun to observe that this increase in confidence has had an interesting side effect – an unwillingness to compromise on what matters to me.  I think that’s because confidence brings with it a sense of comfort in your skin. And, a mix of this comfort combined with a sense of purpose that’s been a result of all the thinking on the topic for the past 2 years has led to more clarity on why I do things. This, in turn, has helped with making all those little decisions that make up our days. And, as we live our days, so we live our lives.

It is a fascinating evolution though. And, I’m enjoying the change.

2. History lauds the individual but it is teams that make history. Hat tip to Walter Isaacson and “The Innovators” for this one. I’ve really been struck by how every great innovation in the past 150 years was brought forth by teams. I always considered myself reasonably well acquainted with the history of technology and I associated many technology shifts with lone geek genius. I’ve been blown away by the recurrence of this very simple idea – history is made by great teams. That, in turn means, if you want to really make a positive difference, you want to hone your ability to build great teams. (Note: build doesn’t necessarily mean lead)

I have 3-4 interesting team projects in progress and, in the remaining year or so of being a student, I am really interested in digging deep and understanding how great teams are built. It is nice to be able to experiment with no serious consequences. 🙂

3. Learning to “see” and learning to make the most of an inch by going a mile deep. A close friend recently said he thought I was very observant. I found this to be an interesting observation as I have always thought of myself as someone with really bad observation skills. And, in some senses, that is very true. I am lost in my own thoughts and world far too often. But, observation in his eyes was to be able to view a situation and take insight from it. And, I think what he described as observant is what the wonderful Seth Godin describes in his post about “learning to see.” 7 years of looking for interesting ideas to blog about has inadvertently taught me to scratch beneath the surface a lot more. Allow me to digress for a moment here – it never ceases to amaze me as to how often people around you can point out things you never knew. I’ve learnt nearly everything about myself, especially about my strengths, thanks to insightful notes from people around me. I do my best to do the same to others around me. These observations around strengths are very valuable – we focus on weaknesses far too much.

His comment, however, led me to think about the idea observation some more. And, the more I think of it, the more I realize that observation is as powerful an idea as it gets. Great learners don’t need too many experiences to learn powerful lessons. They make the most of experiences by extracting an unimaginable amount of insight. I’d like to be able to do that more. And, perhaps that’ll be a great theme to take forward into this 26th year – to be able to make the most of the experiences I choose to immerse myself into by learning to make the most an inch… by going a mile deep.

Thank you to you for reading these notes, liking, sharing, and sending in your thoughts and comments. It is always lovely hearing from you. You make this blog a blog. And, for that, I am very grateful. Thank you for all you do.

(Past birthday notes: 25, 2423)

  • happy birthday! 🙂

    • Thanks SO much, Pranav!

  • Happy birthday Rohan 🙂 .

    • Thanks a lot, Ananth!

  • Happy Birthday! Great post man!

    • Thank you, Bill! :-))

  • Mary Ellen

    Happy birthday, Rohan, and thanks for your terrific post here. There’s a quote attributed to Diane Ackerman, “I don’t just want to live the length of my life. I want to live the width of it.” You seem to be doing that, and then sharing it with the rest of us! I find your blog to be inspirational and I especially like your focus here on seeing and the importance of cultivating that skill, which you seem to have well honed. Someone once pointed out to me, in reference to the movie Avatar, that the characters in the film never say, “I love you,” but rather, “I see you.” You’re highlighting here the power of seeing/observing as a source for so much magic and mystery, for professional and personal growth, connection, etc. I know this to be true and thank you for the reminder. All good things to you in the year ahead.

    • Hi Mary Ellen, I just have to say that your thoughtful comments always make me think. I love both your notes – the idea of living the width of our lives and never realized that the characters in Avatar said “I see you.”

      Thank you for taking the time and for the wishes. Always lovely to hear from you.

  • Happy Birthday, Rohan! Thank you for this post and all the great learning notes. I wonder if you mind I translate this post to Chinese and share with my friends in China. I will of course include link to this post and your blog. Hope more people will read your thoughts!

    • 100%. No permission needed at all for that – for this or any post on this blog.

      Thank you for the wishes, Yingying!

  • srisays

    Belated Happy Birthday Rohan! Wishing you many more years of learning and happiness 🙂

    • Thank you so much! 🙂