Learning to say no

You learn things from most unexpected experiences. I learnt to say No from such a small but repeated encounters.

I usually get down at a point and walk about 2 km while coming back from work. There is a famous bookstore on the way and few eateries around it. At any given time one can see about 20, 25 people in that area.

Almost every other day one can see a young group of 4 or 5 representing various NGOs talking to people. They will be seen trying to convince them that they are not doing anything to this world and donating to the NGO they represent will help them attain salvation. Now, I am all up for charity. But I refuse to give to any random organization.

My first encounter with them was lengthy. Being a self-proclaimed polite person,  I patiently heard for 15 full minutes before saying that I am not interested. I genuinely wanted to hear what they do but I support another NGO that I believe in.

The frequency of my encounters increased and it was getting a bit frustrating to talk to some NGO rep every day. Time was getting wasted for us both. Over the time, my replies became shorter and crisp. This is the evolution of my replies.

“That is so nice of you people to volunteer but I support another organization”

“Sorry, I support another organization”

“UNICEF? I talked to you guys already”

“Greenpeace.org? I talked to you already”

“Children’s relief fund? I talked to you already”

“UNICEF? I talked to you guys already. Didn’t you get enough funds yet? You have been asking people every day”

“UNICEF again? Talked to you last week”

“Already contributed”

“Already contributed?”

“Not interested”

“Nopes”

“No”

“Lost my job”

“Nope”

“No”

“Never”

“Huh?”

“”

There are some questions that keep surfacing in my mind

  • Why do these organizations always need money?
  • Can they eventually help all the people ever?
  • How about the admin costs? Surely not all the people are volunteering?
  • Can there really be an organization that is formed with volunteers only and the money collected is spent completely to the cause?
  • Why do big NGOs like UNICEF ask ordinary people to contribute instead of targeting corporates or wealthy?
  • Does anyone who is contributing even read the financial statement to check where the money is being spent on?
  • How do we choose the organization that we can trust?

 

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Universe vs Me

I was going through some motivational videos yesterday and was pretty pumped up to wake up early and start being productive. It is amusing that people want everything instantly. We appreciate the Japanese tea making ceremony but we drink dip tea. Because it is instant. After watching the videos, I felt like I am instantly tuned for a super productive lifestyle from that moment on. There will be no looking back. The first thing on the list was to wake up 15 mins early and do something productive.  The alarm was set. The task was fixed – read a chapter in a book that I have been intending to read.

The alarm set off and I woke up without snoozing. My mornings don’t start without a cup of freshly brewed smoking hot filter coffee. So I decided to make one for myself and start reading the book. I felt like it was the first day of the rest of my life.

As I entered the kitchen, I stepped on something cold. I looked down and my irritation went from 0 to 60kmph in 3.2 seconds like a Tesla. My refrigerator had an auto-defrost feature but unfortunately, it doesn’t evaporate the water. All the melted ice was nicely covering the kitchen floor. I had to clean that mess. It was quite an effort to clean that. Finally, when I was done I looked at that clock. It had taken exactly 15 minutes to clean the mess.

Moral 1: You may plan whatever you want to do. But the universe has its own plans for you.
Moral 2: When a difficult task, like cleaning the mess, in this case, is to be done by you the universe prepares you with enough motivation the previous day.

Me – 0, Universe – 1

Golden Rule

Email has an ability many channels don’t: Creating valuable, personal touches – At scale -David Newman

I am going to tell you a story about three people in a corporate jungle – Tom, Dick and Harry (Cliche! I know!). Tom is a good guy trying to maintain good relationships with people almost bordering on the people-pleaser level. Tom and Dick had few healthy issues earlier which was sorted out in a professional way. Dick had an erratic behavior. His intentions were good but his actions used to put off people sometimes. There was no issue for the good part of the year with either of them. Harry works in a different department but works closely with both Tom and Dick. They had mutual respect for each other.

One day, while discussing an issue, Harry sent an email to some wider audience. Tom felt that certain parts of the email did not put his team in good light and so raised the concern through an email to Dick. His intention was to raise the concern and explain the scenario so that Dick has a clearer picture.  So, Tom sent an email only to Dick as he did not want to create a big scene out of it.  However, Dick looped in Harry in that email and asked everyone to discuss directly. This put Tom on a spot and he felt awkward talking to Harry about it.

Now who is at fault here? Is it Harry for sending the email to a wider audience without discussing with the concerned team? Is it Tom for raising concern about Harry’s email without keeping him in the loop? Or is it Dick who forwarded the email to Harry which was supposed to be only for his view? Everybody’s intentions seem to be genuine but somehow the relationship may have strained a little bit.

I learnt a valuable lesson from this story:

Do not write in the email what should never be forwarded

 

Instant Motivation – Falcon 9

Everyone has his/her share of ups and downs. One time you are pumped up with enthusiasm and another time, you are worn out like a deflated tube.  If you may have noticed carefully, when you are down on your motivation there is always something that could give you an instant boost. It could be a song, a memory of a trip you had taken, a phone call from a friend, picture of your family and children or anything else.

I have been an admirer of Elon Musk for all his work. Be it an electric car, solar power or a super-human ambition of migrating people to Mars. This guy is insane in an admirable way. Whenever I read something about him, or a see a video of him or his speech, I am in awe. It is true his personal life may not be so glorious but the mission that he has undertaken is larger than life.  I have started reading his biography now. I have seen many YouTube videos about him. The one that I am going to share is the one that gives instant motivation to me. Whenever I feel a little down, I see this video. I draw inspiration from that video. It is not just about Elon Musk but every single person in the video. It tells me that the greatest happiness is in putting in soul and energy into something that others dismissed as impossible and seeing it succeed. The sheer sense of achievement and pride. This video is by Nat Geo about the launch of Falcon 9 by Space X when the first stage of the rocket landed back successfully after launching the satellite into the orbit. Had this attempt failed, it would have made the company to be shut down. As I said, I am intensely moved whenever I see the video. I hope it gives you that burst of motivation too. Cheers!

Consequences of Laziness

Dear People,

We are nearing the end of 2016. Another year passed by just like that. Good things and bad things happened around the world. Take what is good and leave what is bad. Because what is bad for you may be good for somebody else. Whether something is good or bad is subjective. I have talked about this earlier. So I am not going to dwell too much on it. But, there are some common enemies. In my last post, I briefly touched about Procrastination though I shed some positive light on that. In this one, I am going to talk about its cousin Laziness.

Everybody has been lazy at some point in time. It is only the degree of laziness that decides the success or failure. I am going to lay down few verses from Thirukkural, written over 2000 years ago, which talks about the ill effects of laziness. It shows that laziness is as old and as indestructible as cockroaches. This poet has dedicated one section of 10 verses on the topic.  The topic is named “Not being lazy”.

குடியென்னும் குன்றா விளக்கம் மடியென்னும்
மாசூர மாய்ந்து கெடும்.

Even though one’s family has a good legacy, it quickly dies if he has the darkness of laziness.

மடியை மடியா ஒழுகல் குடியைக்
குடியாக வேண்டு பவர்.

If one wants to maintain or increase the dignity of his family, he has to eradicate laziness from his conduct and put in the right efforts.

மடிமடிக் கொண்டொழுகும் பேதை பிறந்த
குடிமடியும் தன்னினும் முந்து.

The glory of the family of an ignorant man, whose conduct is defined by laziness,  quickly perishes even before him.

குடிமடிந்து குற்றம் பெருகும் மடிமடிந்து
மாண்ட உஞற்றி லவர்க்கு.

The family glory decays and faults increases for the ignorant man who give way to laziness and put forth no dignified efforts.

நெடுநீர் மறவி மடிதுயில் நான்கும்
கெடுநீரார் காமக் கலன்.

Procrastination, forgetfullness, laziness and over indulgence in sleep – these four things form a small boat that is desired by those who are down the path of desctruction.

படியுடையார் பற்றமைந்தக் கண்ணும் மடியுடையார்
மாண்பயன் எய்தல் அரிது.

Even though an idle person may be blessed with the wealth of all the kings ruling the earth, he rarely dervies any benefit out of it.

இடிபுரிந்து எள்ளுஞ்சொல் கேட்பர் மடிபுரிந்து
மாண்ட உஞற்றி லவர்.

Those who do not make dignified efforts due to laziness will subject themselves to condemnation and reproach.

மடிமை குடிமைக்கண் தங்கின்தன் ஒன்னார்க்கு
அடிமை புகுத்தி விடும்.

If laziness becomes the characteristic of a person from a good family, it will make him a slave of his enemies.

குடியாண்மை யுள்வந்த குற்றம் ஒருவன்
மடியாண்மை மாற்றக் கெடும்.

When a person overcomes and gets away from laziness, the disgrace brought upon his family will disappear.

மடியிலா மன்னவன் எய்தும் அடியளந்தான்
தாஅய தெல்லாம் ஒருங்கு.

The king who does not give way to laziness will obtain all the wealth passed over by Him who measured the worlds with His foot (God)

I wish you, and your nears and dears, a very active, prosperous, and a very happy new year. May this new year destory the laziness in your life and bless you with abundant health, wealth and knowledge.

Cheers,

Sadagopan

Creative Procrastination

The exercise for day-7 is to post something based on a social media message. I was given an option of 5 tweets and I have to pick one and write about what it triggers. Since the following theme is more prevalent in my blog and very relatable to me, I’m picking the one with the magic word – procrastination. Warning: Quote heavy.

I can’t decide if procrastination kills creativity or is essential to it – Grant Snider

A good statement is something that sparks some serious thoughts that mess you up. This one does. This tweet started a cold war between my mind and my heart. My heart says procrastination is very essential for creativity but the mind says it kills creativity. The Internet and the world self-help books have educated everybody that procrastination is the thief of time and opportunity’s assassin. There are some hard hitting quotes like the following:

Procrastination is, hands down, our favourite form of self-sabotage – Alyce P.Cornyn-Selby

 Procrastination is for people who don’t have any self-respect. Figure your shit now – Anonymous

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy – Wayne Gretzky

And then there are some quotes which are in a slightly motivating tone.

Don’t wait. The time will never be just right – Napolean Hill

Begin. To begin is half the work. Let Half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished – Marcus Aurelius

One can find a treasure trove of quotable quotes about procrastination, overcoming procrastination and success. But, you could hardly find anything that says ‘Procrastination is the sucker of creativity’ or ‘Procrastination makes you dumb’ or ‘Not procrastinating makes you creative’. We should ask why. Is it because it actually is essential for creativity? Does procrastination increase/induce creativity? It is a well-known fact that Mark Twain and Jerome K Jerome were both very creative. And what did they say?

Never put off until tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well – Mark Twain

I like work: it fasicnates me. I can sit and look at it for hours – Jerome K Jerome

I hear you. Quotes are just interesting statements picked completely out of random so that it can be used in any context. But hey, if it helps us make a point, we should use it by all means. I am not saying Mark Twain or Jerome k Jerome were procrastinators or idlers. They were, in fact, the opposite of it because they got the books published. Maybe, they published later than they initially thought and made the books more interesting? Food for thought.

From my personal experience, I can say that procrastination helps in being creative. I have been in situations where, due to various reasons, I had not started my work until the deadline was near. But, once the deadline was in sight, my mind started thinking in all the ways possible to quickly finish the task. You get to finish the task, you get the adrenaline rush (no need of bungee jumping) and you also get to find a creative way of doing things. That’s a triple bonus. Why is it so? Maybe the following quote is a fact?

89608-quotes-about-procrastination-jpg
Image Courtesy: so-relatable.tumblr.com

 

I will leave it to your pondering. Cheers!

Space to write

The day-6 exercise of Writing: Finding Everyday Inspiration is Space to write. Describe the place where you write.

This is going to be an easy task. I write most of my posts either from my bedroom or in a cab while I am on the way to work. Everybody knows how a cab is. To give an idea about how my bedroom will be, I will have to take you back in time and share my earlier post. A fiction that is close enough to reality -> Digging up your digs

Cheers!