July 10, 2008

Practice Is Challenging Your limits

Practice makes perfect. Perfection is a moving target. Practice is continuously challenging your limits to gain perfection.

Consider you are new at the game of darts. Initially you start throwing darts from a ten feet distance. Assume that your darts land fifteen inches away, on an average, from the bulls-eye. This is your limit as a beginner. You can challenge this limit through practice which enables you to progressively decrease the average distance till you start hitting the bulls-eye consistently. This is perfect, but only when the dartboard is ten feet away. To gain perfection at hitting the bulls-eye from twelve feet, you need to challenge your limits further and practice more. Putting a blindfold on one eye will challenge your limits even further. And so on...

Practice helps you gain perfection. However, perfection is a matter of definition that changes with each milestone that you achieve. Each milestone is a limit that you set for yourself. Each new definition of perfection forces you to challenge your limits yet again, and continue practicing till you reach the next milestone. It never ends, and there is no final limit.

May 25, 2008

Truth Without Context Is Nonsense

Any truth about a reality is valid only in a given context. In all other contexts it is not likely to make any sense.

There may be many different truths to explain any reality. Each truth makes sense in a particular context, but is normally nonsense in other contexts. Despite all good intentions, we often have serious disagreements regarding reality with others in our personal and professional life. Each person in the disagreement feels that he/she is saying the correct thing (truth), whereas others are talking nonsense. It is important to understand that it is possible that most people in the disagreement are actually speaking the truth; however their truths make sense in different contexts.

This insight became very clear to me recently while playing with my 23 month old toddler. One of her favorite toys is "Piglet" (of Winnie the Pooh fame). It is a stuffed toy made up of soft pink fur. She used to call it "Piggie" till a few days back, however nowadays she is very confused about what it is. We told her it is 'Pink', while trying to teach her colors; we told her it is 'fur' while trying to make her familiar with textures; we told her it is "Piglet", while she was watching "Winnie The Pooh' cartoon; we told her it is a stuffed toy; and we also told her that it is soft and cute.

Each of this is true about her 'Piggie", however if she points at her "Piggie", and asks me what it is without any context, I am at loss of what to say. It is so many different things depending upon the context. It is a Pig, it is the cartoon character Piglet, it is a toy, it is a stuffed toy, it is pink, it is soft and cute, it is fur, etc.

Most of us adults deal with far more complex realities than what my toddler is dealing with. Therefore whenever in disagreement, it is very important to try and understand the context in which each person is talking. Most disagreements would disappear if (a) you could step in the other person's shoes and see their context, and (b) take efforts to make sure that others see your context.

Related Posts
The Truth About Truth
Your Point Of View Is Yours
A Question Of Perspective - 1

April 30, 2008

Living Multiple Lives In One Lifetime

For you to be at peace with yourself, you need to be at peace in each of the multiple lives that you are living.

We live multiple lives in our lifetime. Whereas at a subconscious level we are aware of it, we seldom look at it from this perspective. We broadly categorize our activities and environment as personal or professional based on whether it is home, friends, work or non-work related.

I want you to consider for a moment that the differentiation in your personal and professional life is not only external but is internal as well; i.e., you are a very different person in each life. In fact, if you isolate your personal and professional life and look at yourself from a third person's perspective you will see two very different individuals.

I would also encourage you to observe carefully and identify the multiple primary lives you are leading, rather than just classifying your activities as personal and professional. For example, I live three primary lives; a family life, a product manager's life, and a writer's life. I am a very different person in each of my three lives. My focus is different, my way of dealing with others is different, what defines my success or failure is different, what excites or depresses me is different and the way I conduct myself is different.
As a family person my focus is primarily on the well being of my family, taking care of financial and emotional needs, making sure that my child grows up to be a fine individual, going for holidays and outings, celebrating festivals with extended family and friends, getting a life insurance to help my family even after my death (something that you only do for your family), building assets for post retirement security, etc.

As a product manager, my focus is on ensuring long term sustained revenue and growth of my product. Understanding customer needs, competitive landscape and emerging technologies. Speaking at conferences, listening to customer complaints, reviewing product bug list with quality assurance and engineering. Defining the future roadmap for the product etc.

As a writer, my focus is to deeply observe life and people and to share thought provoking insights through my writings. Interacting with readers, from over hundred countries, having extremely diverse backgrounds and cultures. Discussing feedback and comments. Marketing and promotion to reach potential readers. Learning technologies that help me make my blog more attractive and pleasant, etc.
For you to be living powerfully, you need to make progress and be at peace in each of your multiple lives. Making progress in one life at the cost of others will lead to unrest. You need to balance your time and energies between each of your primary lives. Identify your primary lives and evaluate each life in isolation. Do what it takes to be at peace in each of your life.

April 28, 2008

Awareness & Practice Are The Keys

Awareness changes your view of life. Practice helps you live by the new view.

Many readers find my insights thought provoking but find it difficult, if not impossible, to live by them. They ask me if I really live by what I share. My simple answer is no. If I were able to perfectly live by all insights that I share, I would become too perfect to be human. So I don't live by them, but I do strive to live by them. I consistently practice living by them. And this practice would continue through my lifetime. There would be times when I will fail, but there would also be times when I will succeed. With practice, the number of successes is likely to increase.

Awareness and practice are the keys. The purpose of sharing my insights is to increase awareness of some new perspectives to life. Once you are aware of something, it changes the rest of your life, whether or not you do anything about it. And if you do decide to practice it, the change is more dramatic and faster.

There was a time when smokers were not aware of the ill effects of smoking. Now it is a well known fact that "smoking kills". Do people still smoke? Yes, they do. But I am sure people who are aware, smoke less than they would have otherwise. Most of them discourage their children from smoking. The awareness also motivates many smokers to practice giving up smoking. Some are able to give up smoking easily. Some practice for a long time before they are able to give up. And there are those who constantly practice and reduce the number they smoke, but are never able to give up.

If any insight touches a chord in you, practice living by it. Do not give up if you fail a few times. Keep practicing and you will see the difference it makes to your life.

Related Posts:
Practice Is Challenging Your Limits
Entry Barriers To Anything New

April 25, 2008

Human Shades Of Gray

To be white is to be an Angel. To be black is to be a Devil. To be gray is to be a Human.

Humans are of varying shades of gray. Their personalities are a combination of white and black, godliness and deviousness. To expect a human to not have any flaw would be to expect that human to be an Angel. Humans are not Angels. To condemn a human as all evil is to condemn that human to be a Devil. Humans are not devils.

I am not talking about the minuscule percentage of rare humans who by their deeds have become comparable to Angels or to Devils. I am talking about the large majority. People like you and me. Most of us do things that may not be right. But we also do things that are right. Sometimes we do things that are evil. But many times we also do things that are kind. We have our weaknesses, but we also have our strengths. We may fail in many endeavors, but we also have many victories. We are human; a mix of white and black; a shade of gray.

So forgive yourself for all your weaknesses, failures and evils of the past. You are just a human. You are bound to be gray. Strive to be a lighter shade of gray.

March 28, 2008

Celebration of Happiness

Any activity that you enjoy is a celebration of your happiness. You wouldn't have enjoyed it if you were not happy.

Each one of us enjoys certain activities that makes us feel better and makes us feel happy. The activities are different for different people. Some people enjoy watching movies, some go on a long drive, some go out for dinner, some play sports, and others indulge in a zillion other activities.

I invite you to pause for a moment and introspect. What are your favorite activities? When do you really enjoy them? In my experience, I enjoy these activities only when I am happy. If I am under stress, these activities can at most divert my mind, but the stress stays resident at some corner of my mind. I enjoy the activities only when I decide to give up the stress.

If you really want to enjoy yourself while indulging in your favorite activities, give up your stress, be happy, and then celebrate your happiness.

Related Post: Happiness Is Your Natural State Of Being

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