Monthly Archives: March 2014

SOMETHING THAT KEEPS ME GOING

Depression is an ill that has crept stealthily and steadily into our midst over the years, and because we’re most times a crowd of drones moving along, knocking against each other occasionally, it’s super easy to be oblivious of the gradual descent of the next person into almost catastrophic despair.

Today, I’m not about to tell you to be your brother’s keeper, neither am I going to tell you to go out of your way to ensure all those around you are living the best life they can live. The truth is that the odds are stacked against most of us in living up to our potentials. And so as selfish as it sounds, my simple message for today is to ensure you find for yourself something that ALWAYS keeps you going.

For me, it’s the dread of being a disappointment to those who mean so much to me, as well as to myself. Note that the ‘something that keeps me going’ isn’t the same as ‘why I do what I do.’ Well, it’s probably a good idea to leave the breakdown of the semantics of those two phrases for another day.

The bottom line is that just whenever I’m about transforming into that guy that cuts everybody off and proclaims in unspoken words that ‘nobody cares until you’ve made it’ (which is probably true), I find the resolve to ‘stick with the hustle’ so I’d not end up being a disappointment or a sad, lonely being with an hatred for the world – be it subtle or intense.

And while still on the matter, I’d stress how important people are, how vital interactions are for the sustenance of sanity and how critical relationships are for our progress. I think for me, people keep me going – their sometimes sorry and beautiful tales, their conquests, their idiosyncrasies, their kind and evil hearts and thinking habits, what they are that I aspire to become and what I hope not to be… their everything.

Just find what it is that will keep you going, for no matter how intelligent or happy you are, there will be moments of retardation to your forward motion, and how influential your ‘stimulants’ are will determine how well you will recover from setbacks.

 

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KIDNEY HEIST

I noticed very recently – say through the course of the past three months – that tasks that have a lot to do with originality have fallen on my laps. I admit I’ve been able to accomplish some while I’ve failed woefully at many others. It got me thinking: “How do I manage to be innovative enough for my ideas to be warmly embraced by those in need of ‘em?

There’s something called serendipity. In clear terms, it refers to the discovery of something pleasant when not actually all out “seeking for answers.” And so it was that I decided to add a book to my March reading list, a recommendation I got from here. For me, it’s serendipity, cos it has managed to set me on the path to getting an answer to my question. The book is titled MADE TO STICK. It was written by brothers Chip and Dan Heath. The story that ensured I haven’t dropped the book since then is an urban legend referred to as KIDNEY HEIST:

“A friend of a friend of ours is a frequent business traveler. Let’s call him Dave. Dave was recently in Atlantic City for an important meeting with clients. Afterward, he had some time to kill before his flight, so he went to a local bar for a drink.

He’d just finished one drink when an attractive woman approached and asked if she could buy him another. He was surprised but flattered. Sure, he said. The woman walked to the bar and brought back two more drinks — one for her and one for him. He thanked her and took a sip. And that was the last thing he remembered.

Rather, that was the last thing he remembered until he woke up, disoriented, lying in a hotel bathtub, his body submerged in ice.

He looked around frantically, trying to figure out where he was and how he got there. Then he spotted the note: DON’T MOVE. CALL 911. A cell phone rested on a small table beside the bathtub. He picked it up and called 911, his fingers numb and clumsy from the ice. The operator seemed oddly familiar with his situation. She said, “Sir, I want you to reach behind you, slowly and carefully. Is there a tube protruding from your lower back?”Anxious, he felt around behind him. Sure enough, there was a tube.

The operator said, “Sir, don’t panic, but one of your kidneys has been harvested. There’s a ring of organ thieves operating in this city, and they got to you. Paramedics are on their way. Don’t move until they arrive.”

The Kidney Heist is a story that sticks to our minds. We understand it, we remember it, and we can retell it later. And if we embrace its credibility, it might change our attitude towards strangers, especially as regards accepting drinks from them.

 

Well, the stuff I share on this blog is basically “the world through my eyes.” Some of it probably has nothing to do with you; some might be helpful at some point. The rest of the sorry tale above, the stickiness factor, as well as tips that might come in handy in your quest to be a creative guru are in the book: MADE TO STICK.

Creativity afterall is what breeds art and art is the bane of life. Reading the book might not be a bad way to kickstart your week.

Cheers!

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NOTICING

What we see determines our response. Is it then safe to say our interactions, actions and inaction are influenced by how we see the world? I share this excerpt from Seth Godin’s ICARUS DECEPTION. Yes! Seth Godin again. He almost always has something to say, hence the incessant references to him. Anyway, I hope a word, a phrase, a line or two are useful in raising questions in your mind like they have in mine. Enjoy:

NOTICE

Every time I walk into a bookstore, I notice things. I notice typography. Pricing. The thickness of books and the type of cover stock being used. I notice where the salespeople are standing and how smart they are. I notice the guy on the couch, buying nothing but reading a lot. What’s he reading? I eavesdrop on conversations, listen in on what’s being hand sold.

Paco Underhill has turned noticing into an art. His company, Envirosell, monitors tens of thousands of hours of silent retail-store security-camera footage, noticing how people shop. Women, for example, don’t like it if another shopper brushes against them while they’re browsing. So Paco persuaded a client to widen the aisles (oh no, less inventory!) to eliminate the butt brush. The result? Increased revenue even though there were fewer items for sale.

Woody Guthrie was the most important folk singer of the twentieth century. But before he accomplished that, he visited forty-five states, learned tens of thousands of songs, and immersed himself in native and immigrant cultures. Without that foundation, he would never have had the tools to create his art.

The difficult part of seeing is setting aside what you’re sure you already know. When the Web was young, I was already an “expert.” I had built successful online promotions and run them on Prodigy, AOL, and CompuServe. So I knew what I was talking about. Or at least I thought I did.
Browsing around online in 1993, I didn’t see. All I could understand about the Web was that it was free, slow, clunky, and without a center. Of course it wasn’t going to work. Every dumb stunt I saw online reinforced my skepticism, and of course I ignored the successes that contradicted my worldview.
That year, instead of starting a search engine, a chat site, or an online auction site, I wrote a book about clever stuff you could find online. I made eighty thousand dollars. The guys who started Yahoo!, on the other hand, with the same investment I made, ended up creating about eighty billion dollars in value (a million times more than I did) with the same information.
We both had access to the same resources and to the same technology. The difference is that David and Jerry saw something that I refused to see, because I was too clever to see it.

You can’t accurately see until you abandon your worldview. Your worldview is incredibly useful in everyday life—it’s the set of assumptions, biases, and beliefs you bring to the interactions you have with the world, and it saves a lot of time. Because you don’t have to come to new conclusions after each interaction, it’s easier to process familiar inputs and easier to be consistent.
But your worldview, by its nature, keeps you from seeing the world as it is.

A LIFETIME SPENT NOTICING BEGINS TO TURN INTO THE ABILITY TO SEE WHAT OTHERS CAN’T

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WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Today, I draw inspiration from Seth Godin’s book, THE ICARUS DECEPTION. As a huge fan and ardent follower of his work, I always appreciate the wisdom laced in his writings, as well as the fact that he proposes that continuously asking questions rather than expecting answers is the only reasonable way to live.

And so the question to ask yourself today is: What happens next? After what you may ask. You see, that’s another question. And therein lies the wisdom in the original question.

There is a desire inherent in man to seek security (job security maybe). To seek to be the one that is ‘picked’ by some individual/organization for a role/duty that is mind-numbing but enviable in the eyes of fellow myopic beings. The sad good thing is that these days, the quality available amongst the myriad of options for a choice to be made is mind-blowing. Hence, Seth proposes self-selection. And this is only possible when we realize that the age we are in – the connection age – demands that those who will enjoy the scalability in profit occasioned by the times should be those who are ready to exhibit the artist in them.

There is a tendency for the term ‘artist’ to be ascribed to those who have supernatural creative powers. How more inaccurate could that definition be? Artistry rather involves the deliberate decision to ask questions others will not ask, to create avenues for connection, to focus on creation of new stuff (however seemingly trivial) rather than repetition of draining tasks that offer little or no increase per increase in effort.

The moral of it all is to pick yourself. Refuse to wait for that time when the acclaimed record label will sign you up, or when the celebrated institution will invite you to be a consultant, or when the much applauded team will recruit you for membership. Write the blog you wish to write, upload the video of your performance(s) on you-tube; you never know how this could propel you to stardom, write some ‘mad code’ and develop programmes for yourself rather than wait endlessly for Microsoft or google to find you out. They have so many options to pick from so that time for you may never arrive. Rather, pick yourself! Provide service that people cannot do without thereby encouraging connection of people from different walks of life to you.

I conclude by echoing Seth’s thoughts on why Dyslexics emerge as moguls especially in the business world. It simply is because early on in their lives, they realized they couldn’t be one of the “best” by virtue of their aptitude, so they embraced the idea of creating stuff themselves (picking themselves). I assure you, sitting around to take orders that only result in replicating products the populace is already saturated with isn’t the life to live at all. That is so industrial ageish!

 

P.S. –

1. The call for creativity does not amount to you leaving your bland and pointless job at this very minute without having ideas or questions in your mind. That would be the height of foolery.

2. The ‘steam’ company that provides a medium for installation for various computer games encourage mistakes from their employees, even ones that result in public ridicule! This is ‘cos they believe making mistakes comes with the creative territory and they are willing to encourage creativity. Isn’t that pretty cool?

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WIDGETS

One thing I’ve realized about me is that in the case that I don’t derive maximum satisfaction from what led me a blog, how appealing and instructive the side attractions are can serve as an incentive for me to return. By side attractions, I’m referring to the content of the widgets that lace the body/articles of the blog.

There was a time when physical strength dictated the probability of future success. This was the industrial age. These days, the focus on the other entire micro qualities one possesses, most especially in terms of people relationship and management has never been more intense.

Suffice to say, the idea that just sheer ability can take you to the pinnacle of success is absolutely becoming ridiculous and archaic. Your gesticulations, slight nuances, your habits, the values that are evident by your consistent actions are extremely vital in your everyday life. And just like widgets on a blog, there are times (a whole lot of times) when the impressions you make that lead to the course your career and life take are by virtue of these characteristics (More often than not, you’d be oblivious a message is flowing out from you to others). It is important that over time, you consciously build good values so that even the unconscious information you supply the ‘environment’ with always points to the sterling qualities you want people to believe you possess.

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PATCH YOU UP

A professional scrabble player will be able to tell you that the knowledge of the seemingly trivial 2, 3 and 4 letter words are vital to apotheosis in the esteemed game. For example, to play RONZERS when one hadn’t seen the word ever before will require that one would have to know the word RONZ and with the experience of constant playing be able to deduce that RONZERS could find it’s root in RONZ. The playing of RONZERS by the way ensures with your score, you get an extra 50 points bonus. My coach (A master category player) once missed the word JUCO in a game and so lost. He would have won had he known of the existence and validity of the word. These are the stuff that separate winners from losers.

 

Ask a programmer, he’d likely tell you that an ignorance of strings, functions, debugging and the likes will ensure you’re stuck in the quagmire of witlessness as far as programming is concerned. Ask an electrical engineer, He’d tell you that without being well grounded in Voltage, current and resistance relationships, you cannot make a headway in his field. Ask a lawyer, a doctor, a philosopher… I dare you to ask anyone. There are building blocks in every profession or endeavour, and unfamiliarity with these blocks will ensure that no matter how high you climb, you will fall beyond the level from which you started.

 

In the case that you find yourself needing acquaintance or re-acquaintance with your foundations, don’t be hesitant about taking steps to make yourself whole. A house that has no solid substance will crumble with the slightest ill wind. Sometimes, the underpinning is bound to change as change is the inevitable inspector/inspection (whichever suits you) that sweeps across all fields. This is where the processes of unlearning and re-learning are vital; the core of your field will probably undergo revision every now and then, so it’s necessary to embrace these alterations thereby always having a solid base to stand on. Well, the easiest recommendation I have for you is the internet – this cannot be stressed enough. Leveraging on its versatility and reach will always keep you abreast of all that’s constantly changing around you. If you know of any other strategy to keep up, just do it! At the end, the important thing is to by yourself patch you up!

 

P.S. – When the said coach became a national champion in 1989, the word JUCO didn’t exist and so perhaps his failure to keep with the insertion and removal of words from the global database lost him the game I said he lost.

 

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WHEN A DOG GRABS A BONE . . .

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… One or more of three things could happen:

  1. It could focus so much on the bone that you pass just by without a single bark.
  2. It could lick the bone dry till it shines like a polished surface.
  3. It could inflict serious damage on whoever tries to pry the bone from its grasp.

In essence, a dog puts its all into the task of tackling a bone. The key qualities it displays/portrays while the bone is under scrutiny are:

FOCUS (Drowning out of external ‘noise’ and unwanted distractions. It indeed refuses to acknowledge the presence of anything that could possibly delay the completion of the task at hand).

THOROUGHNESS (The proper expression that relates to this is ‘leaving no stone unturned.’ Just like a chicken scratching the dirt for food embedded in the soil, it ensures every aspect of the task is covered. It doesn’t subscribe to the idea of a shabbily licked bone).

CLARITY OF PURPOSE (An understanding of the importance of the task at hand – getting the bone ‘tidied up’ – ensures that it meets with stiff opposition, any attempt to retard or deter the completion of its obligation.

Consider the word ‘doggedness.’ It isn’t surprising it is coined from the character of a dog. Closely related words are: Single-mindedness, determination, tenacity, persistence. Perhaps, to recognize progress from that point you’ve been stuck on, this little quality of the dog is all you need. Well, while you develop that quality, remember to apply it. For as they say: “Knowledge is not power, Application is power.”

Have a dogged week!

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