Week 59 – What is Philosophy for?

What Is Philosophy For?
Don’t accept things for their face value
It Is What You Do After You Get Knocked Down That People Remember
Character is the foundation of all leadership
Before the Startup
Be an expert on your users and the problem you are solving for them
When It Comes to Market Leadership, Be the Gorilla
If You Focus on Your Competition, You Risk Becoming the Chimp
The Elements of Wit: 5 Ways to Be Smarter, Funnier, And Better At Parties
Fake it But Don’t Force It

Week 58 – To be universally liked is to be relatively ignored.

How Google Works
Get Smart Creatives and Let them loose
The Curse of Meh: Why Being Extraordinary Is Not a Matter of Being Universally Liked but of Being Polarizing
To be universally liked is to be relatively ignored
TED Talks to Ignite Your Innovation and Creativity
How to achieve your personal best
The One Thing Computers Will Never Be Able to Do
Innovation will come from people who are able to link beauty to engineering, humanity to technology, and poetry to processor
Warrior Leadership – No Ways and No Limits
One should not assume a way and believe it is the only way, and apply it to every situation

The Happiness of Pursuit – Chris Guillebeau

I think everybody has a purpose. Some state it. Some are silent about it. Some are conscious about it. Some are unconscious about it. Some follow it subconsciously. The book ‘The Happiness of Pursuit’ by Chris Guillebeau gives a kind of structure to find the quest that shall bring purpose to our life. I found it an easy, absorbing and engaging read.
Chris defines Quest has something that has
·         Has a clear goal and a specific end point

·         Has a specific challenge

·         Requiring a sacrifice of some kind

·         Often driven by a calling or a sense of mission

·         Requires a series of small steps and incremental progress towards the goal

The book draws upon from stories of varieties of quests in a variety of areas like Academic, Athletics, Travel, Activism, Documentation, Exploration, Self-Discovery and explores the motivation behind those quests.
If I want to summarize the reading of the book and give the secret sauce behind pursuing a quest, I can possibly state the below. However reading the actual stories in the book is what will possibly help you identify with each of the below subjective points that you might be already aware of.
·        Believe in your quest or in other words Believe in your ‘Why’. If you do not, no one else will
·     Do not wait for validation about your quest. If you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your quest, you are on the right track.
·        Choose your risk appetite
·     Create a structure around the realization of the quest.  Creativity and Structure are not mutually exclusive
·        Plan and Pursue the Plan.
·        Take small steps. Make progress one day at a time. Celebrate small wins. Keep going.
·         Endure, Endure and Endure especially when you feel like giving up
·        You are your best cheer leader
·         Know when to stop
·         Once you reach your quest, start planning for the next!
A quick and quiet reflection will possibly get you to agree to the fact that everyone of us has either a dominant or a dormant quest. If you have a dominant one and already pursuing your quest, you shall possibly identify with many others listed in the book. If you have a dormant one, then this book is sure to kindle that quest up.
Chris quotes a passage from the book ‘Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer which in my view advocates that ‘Change is the only constant’
I’d like to repeat the advice that I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you previously may never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is not greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun”
Happy Questing and Happy Reading
Tail piece – I cannot help noticing in the recent books that I am reading are more and more pointing towards the joy in exploring and being accountable to your own self and also the merit of opening up the hidden adventurer in you. ‘Who Am I’ – Not yet , Not yet !!
Stay Tuned. Have Fun.

Week 57 – About Humility, Honor, Kindness, and Integrity from Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius on What His Father Taught Him About Humility, Honor, Kindness, and Integrity
A sense of when to push and when to back off
How quitting my corporate job for my startup dream f*cked my life up
Cash, Cash and Cash
50 Rules to Lead The Field
The caliber of your practice determines the quality of your performance
Jerry Seinfeld’s advice for public speakers
Be Yourself
What I learned about creativity from Pixar’s Ed Catmull
People before ideas

Pain is Inevitable. Suffering is Optional – What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami

My sister generally introduces me to good things in life and recently she gifted a dozen books to remind me that I shall be getting older by a year soon. Incidentally I picked up Haruki Murakami’s ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’ from the lot she had sent and after a long time I finished a book with only one break. In my view it was a fascinating memoir and I have pasted below some snippets from the book. My recommendation is to go ahead and grab a copy for yourself.

He introduces his memoir in this way

“Somerset Maugham Once wrote that in each shave lies a philosophy. I couldn’t agree more. No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act. As a writer, then, and as a runner, I don’t find that writing and publishing a book of my own personal thoughts about running makes me stray too far off my usual path. Perhaps, I am just too painstaking a type of person, but I can’t grasp much of anything without putting down my thoughts in writing, so I had to actually get my hands working and write these words. Otherwise, I’d never know what running means to me.”

He offers the power of choice everyone has in this one line and this line is going to stay with me for ever.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

In the following paragraph he creates a link between running a marathon and writing a novel

“Most ordinary runners are motivated by an individual goal, more than anything : namely a time they want to beat. As long as he can beat that time, a runner will feel he’s accomplished what he set out to do and if he can’t then he will feel he hasn’t. Even if he doesn’t break the time he has hoped for, as long as he has the sense of satisfaction at having done his very best – and possibly, having made some significant discovery about himself in the process – then that in itself is an accomplishment, a positive feeling he can vary over to the next race.

The same can be said about my profession. In the novelist’s profession, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as winning or losing. Maybe numbers of copies sold, awards won and critics’ praise serve as outward standards for accomplishment in literature, but none of them really matter. What’s crucial is whether your writing attains the standards you’ve set for yourself. Failure to reach that bar is not something you can easily explain away. When it comes to other people, you can always come up with a reasonable, explanation, but you can’ fool yourself. In this sense, writing novels and running full marathons are very much alike. Basically a writer has a, quiet, inner motivation, and doesn’t seek validation in the outwardly visible.”


In the following paragraph I can possibly draw some kind of parallel with R.W. Emerson’s thinking on self-reliance

“I’m stuck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’ t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance. I placed the highest priority on the sort of life that lets me focus on writing, not associating with all the people around me. I felt that the indispensable relationship I should build in my life was not with a specific person, but with an unspecified number of readers. As long as I got my day-to-day life set so that each work was an improvement over the last, then many of the readers would welcome whatever I life I chose for myself. Shouldn’t this be my duty as a novelist and my top priority? My opinion hasn’t changed over the years. I can’t see my readers ‘ faces, so in a sense it’s a conceptual  type of human relationship, but I’ve consistently considered this invisible conceptual relationship to be the most important thing in my life.

In other words you can’t please everybody.”
Some interesting notes around being optimistic and on the need to find something that we love

“Let’s face it. Life is basically unfair. But even in a situation that’s unfair, I think it’s possible to see out a band of fairness. Of course that might take time and effort. And may be it won’t seem to be worth all that. It’s up-to each individual to decide whether or not it is.

Human beings naturally continue doing things they like and they don’t continue what they don’t like. Admittedly, something close to will does play a small part in that. But no matter what how strong a will a person has , no matter how much he may hate to lose, if it’s an activity that he doesn’t really care for , he won’t keep it up for long. Even if he did, it wouldn’t be good for him”

On deliberate practice during a marathon
“The body is an extremely practical system. You have to let it experience intermittent pain over time and then the body will get the point. As a result it will willingly accept (or maybe not) the increased amount of exercise it’s made to do. After this you very gradually increase the amount of exercise you do. Doing it gradually is important so you don’t burn out.

On the highway of life you can’t always be on the fast lane. Still I don’t want to keep making the same mistakes over and over. Best to learn from my mistakes and put that lesson into practice the next time around. While I still have the ability to do that.

Muscles are like work animals that are quick on the uptake. If you carefully increase the load, step by step, they learn to take it. As long as you explain your expectations to them by actually showing them examples of the amount of work they have to endure, your muscles will comply and gradually get stronger. It doesn’t happen overnight, of course. But as long as you take your time and do it in stages, they won’t complain – aside from the occasional long face- and they’ll very patiently and obediently grow stronger. Through repetition you input into your muscles the message that this is how much work they have to perform. Our muscles are very conscientious. As long as we observe the correct procedure, they won’t complain.

If, however the load halts for few days, the muscles automatically assume they don’t have to work that hard anymore, and they lower their limits. Muscles really are like animals and they want to take it as easy as possible. If pressure isn’t applied to them, they relax and cancel out the memory of all that work. Input this cancelled memory once again and you have to repeat the whole journey from the very beginning. Naturally it’s important to take a break sometimes, but in a critical time like this, when I’m training for a race, I have to show my muscles who’s boss. I have to make it clear to them what’s expected. I have to maintain a certain tension by being unsparing, but not to the point where I burn out. These are tactics that all experienced runners learn over time.”

Three things that he says are essential to be successful
“Talent, focus and endurance are required for success.”
Towards the end of the memoir he kind of elucidates on what was so aptly said by Miyagi in Karate Kid ‘True strength comes from inside”

“What I mean is , I didn’t start running because some-body asked me to become a runner. Just like I didn’t become a novelist because someone asked me to. One day, out of the blue, I wanted to write a novel. And one day, out of the blue, I started to run- simply because I wanted to. I’ve always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I’m wrong, but I won’t change.

I look up at the sky, wondering if I’ll catch a glimpse of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see are indifferent summer clouds drifting over the pacific, And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably shouldn’t be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative, often self-centered nature that still doubts itself- that, when troubles occur, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. I’ve carried this character around like an old suitcase, down a long, dusty path. I’m not carrying it because I like it. The contents are too heavy , and it looks crummy, fraying in spots. I’ve carried it with me because there was nothing else I was supposed to carry. Still, I guess I have grown attached to it. As you might expect.

No matter how long you stand there examining yourself naked before a mirror, you’ll never see reflected what’s inside.”
Stay Tuned and Have fun


Week 56 – Knowledge Builds up Like Compound Interest

“That’s How Knowledge Works: It Builds Up, Like Compound Interest”
The more you can push yourself to learn, the better off you’ll be
Culture Matters: 7 Ways Of Great Leaders
Fight Complacency—Embrace Change
Leadership Is More Than Just Moving Trees
Your leadership should be transparent, engaging, and real.
Lessons in Leadership
Responsibility Builds Morale
How To Achieve Peak Performance In Life And Work
Some of our best work can take place outside of the office, the computer, and the prescribed work plan