Do you hustle or be patient?

Do you be a tough boss or a caring one?

Why is it ingrained in us to keep asking the “or” question?

Why can’t you hustle like a mad person when it’s your chance to act AND be patient once you’ve put in the effort?

Why can’t you be the toughest son of a gun as a boss AND still be caring?

You can. You just have to be willing to be open to the possibility.

Set metrics but be patient

Metrics are great. As humans, we have a visceral reaction to numbers – we always want to make them better (even at the expense of us doing what we would really like to do).

The beauty of numbers is that they make running away from facts impossible. You can rationalize your reasons for not getting preparation started for an upcoming marathon all day but it’s hard to give those excuses if you have a preparation chart with total preparatory hours marked 0.

The downside of measuring everything is that you can easily beat yourself up so hard for not keeping up with your lofty/optimistic targets and just decide against running the marathon.

The solution? Set metrics but be patient. The more you are attempting long term change, the more patient you must be. Don’t make the mistake of stopping the habit of measurement. Even if it’s 0 hours of preparation this week, that’s okay. Just don’t beat yourself up. Aim for a score of 1 hour next week.

It also helps getting an accountability-buddy/coach/boss for the activity you are working on. Send him/her an update on progress once every week with reasons for your score (good and bad) and keep working on it.

I’ve been applying both of these for my 7 exercise sessions/week new years resolution. If I hadn’t been patient, I would have given up in my first 4 or 5 weeks. But, it’s been getting better gradually (the zero on the 1-Apr week was due to being under the weather) and I’m hopeful it will continue. Looking at this chart helps. I average 4.13/week – a long way away from 7/7..

But, as per the principles – set metrics but be patient.

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I would LOVE to do that piece of work

Yes, it’s going to be crazy as I have a fairly full schedule.

Yes, it’s going to be outside of my comfort zone

Yes, it’s going to mean a stretch.

Yes, I don’t HAVE to do it.

But yes, I want to do it. And I’d love to do it.

And yes, I take full responsibility.

As a wiser friend wisely remarked the other day, defaulting to yes is hardly ever a bad thing. Of course, you can’t always say yes to everything but more of us default to “No” over “Yes.” You learn more from your adventures than from safety.

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.”

On Corn Power and Newspaper Subscriptions

This week’s book learning is part 1 of a 2 part series comprising of 4 of my favorite insights from ‘Free’ by Chris Anderson.

Corn Power – Corn is a multi billion dollar industry and one of the world’s most planted crops. I have always wondered why since not many seem to eat corn! Here’s the story –

Water to starch. Rice, wheat and corn are considered the main 3 crops. While rice is high on protein but difficult to grow and wheat is the exact oppoiste, corn is both high on protein and easy to grow.
Since corn is the most efficient converter of water and sun light into starch, we use corn for more than we can imagine.

Corn supermarkets. More than 25% of the products in a super market are derived from corn. Soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, the boxes they are packed in, and even the compounds that the super markets are built with are based on corn!

Chicken nugget. The chicken nugget is the perfect embodiment of corn power – corn is the basis for the feed of the chicken, corn oil, the golden color, and smell.

The big reason corn and food have gotten expensive is that corn began to be used for the production of ethanol for fuel. This has truly tested the limits of corn.

Newpaper subscriptions and subscription pricing

– A fun fact about subscription pricing – it almost always doesn’t exist to maximize revenue. Newspapers make money from advertisements and advertisers pay higher for subscribed newspapers

– Additionally, making a customer pay a penny is a really troublesome (Can you imagine entering card details online for 1p?) So, they are just better off charging more for it!

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Sketch by EB

Free by Chris Anderson has a bunch of very interesting insights on the concept of “free” and how it has shaped today’s world. “Book bytes” from the book are here.

We have 2 more insights – the dynamics of free and interesting applications to business coming up next week..

Depth, sadness, and love songs

Love is the most popular entertainment subject by far. We humans love love. Most movies run with the same predictable script and yet, we still watch them and we still like them.

When it comes to music, I broadly find 2 kinds of love songs – happy love songs and sad love songs.

Happy love songs are well…happy. When you hear a guy say “I just called to say I love you,” or a girl talk about her perfect “love story,” it’s hard not to smile. It stirs up our imagination and reminds us about good times.

But, happy love songs are hardly ever deep. Great love songs, almost always, talk about a sadness, a regret, or even an unlikely dream. Whether it’s “With or without you,” “No, woman, don’t cry,” or “Someone like you,” we all seem to be able to relate to that time when we faced a heartbreak or just had a tough time.

I wonder what it is about sadness that brings about such connection and such depth. But, I think the lesson I take away is that meaningful conversation is not talking about everything being well and good and then moving on to discuss the latest celebrity scandal and the weather. Everything is rarely well and good. (And, when it is, we must celebrate!) Meaningful conversation is when you are willing to talk about those things that have caused you, or are causing you, pain.  It is no wonder that war veterans speak of their comrades which such love and adoration. Great relationships are not those that share happy moments together. Great relationships are those that have survived many a tough time.

Struggle and sadness are an integral part of our life experience. Joy wouldn’t feel good if it wasn’t for pain after all. And, running away from confronting it only makes it worse. We hear about incidents of depression claiming life more often these days. Perhaps it’s because we’ve used texting and tweeting to run away from deep meaningful conversations. Perhaps we could change that by trading a few laughs during our next big meeting with friends to talk about a few things that might actually matter and figure out how we can help each other out.

And, once we do that, perhaps we’ll also learn to laugh at ourselves because that’s a big part of the life learning experience too. 🙂

On that note, I wish you a great weekend and will leave you with one of my favourite ‘sad’ love songs. The song is about a scientist who dedicated so much time to his craft that he didn’t tell the woman he loved he loved her. He wishes they could go back to the start..