Mindfulness Training – Week 3 Progress Update – At the Airport

Chennai International Airport welcomes you to another episode of ‘Mindfulness Training’ 🙂 – I am writing this at the airport before taking my Emirates flight to Geneva.

This week has been extremely busy, a week where being mindful would have benefitted me a lot. However, the outcome has been mixed bag – I missed doing PQ reps one day – So, I got 6 out 7 for the last week. In the rest of the 6 days, I have had some great days, really mindful, calm, energized and positive. And a few other days where I was constantly thinking about the past or the future, distracted, trying to do PQ reps to bring me back to the present and feeling the stress in my body.

These kind of days are not new to me, especially when there is travel involved and multiple deadlines come to me at once – leaving me scrambling between different things. But this time, there was a huge difference – I was aware of my thoughts and my body. I could feel the various sensations in my body. I could observe that my mind was often taking me out of the present into the future – So, I have had many flights last week 🙂 – flights of imagination, of course.

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Mindfulness Training – Week 2 Progress Update

So, it has been 2 weeks since I have started on this 1-year journey of mindfulness. The 2nd week was much better than the first week. In the first week update, I went through the different areas where I am trying to cultivate the habit of mindfulness. This week, I want to change the format a little bit to look at it from another perspective: the perspective of time as the days provide us a beautiful constant rhythm to take a look at whether there is a rhythm to the habits that we are trying to build into the day.

Here we go, starting last Friday (the day I posted the last week update):

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Mindfulness Training – Week 1 Progress Update

So, it has been a week since I have started on this 1-year journey of mindfulness. Typically, when I am starting any new habit, I observe myself in one of the 2 states:

  1. Strong Preparation:  This means that I spend a lot of time and energy in preparing myself for the change, thinking things through and preparing a plan – allocating a time and a place to do the habit and thinking about various challenges that could come up in making the change.  Informing people around me if the habit touches them in some way and asking for their help. And religiously guarding the allocated time-slot so that I get a lot of positive vibes at the beginning itself.
  2. Jumping in with little or no preparation: In this case, the habit is there in my mind and I do my best to implement it. But the energy tapers off after the first few days. And when things get busy and the events of the day make me reactive, I would even forget that I am on a new habit journey until I go back to the Habit tracker the next day.

So, take a guess – which state was I in last week? In state 2: I wanted to reread the book fully to mentally prepare for the year-long journey and to think through how I would do the 100 PQ reps in a day. However, I could not find the time to go through the book beyond the first few pages. First 2 days were great – However, reality caught with me on the 3rd day and I missed reaching the count of 100 reps. So, for the records, I have only done 100 PQ reps on 4 out of 7 days. My initial expectation was to do 7/7 – now, that is the target for the second week 🙂

Now let us get into the details – what areas am I trying to be more mindful and what are my goals? Continue reading

A Year of Mindfulness Training

2 weeks ago, the Islamic new year started and I was thinking about whether I need to build any new habit in this new year. Normally, I am not a person who sets goals for habit changes only at the New Year, but I do it throughout the year. If I see a need for a change in any area of my life, I work on it immediately and over time, I have had hundreds of habit changes, some easy and some hard. Some have become permanent habits and some still require upkeep. As of now, I am actively tracking around 10 habits on a daily basis. But as I was reflecting, I realised that there is a mother-habit, if I can call it that way, that can make all other habit changes easy and it would also have the highest impact on me and the people around me – that is the habit of mindfulness. Continue reading

Real-life lessons from entrepreneurs – Part 1 from Arun Athiappan of Ticketgoose.com

I have been entrepreneur for 2 years and so far I have enjoyed the journey. Since I have started the company on my own, sometimes I feel a little lonely and often turn to family, friends and other wise men for advice on how to deal with some of the challenges of building a startup. One of the things that I have been thinking of recently is to interview successful entrepreneurs to learn some key lessons that they have learnt in their journey so that I can avoid that mistake. I have been planning to meet a very successful and very inspiring entrepreneur but it has not happened yet.

But I stumbled upon this speech that Arun, the co-founder and CEO of ticketgoose.com, gave at IIT-Chennai.

The speech was quite ordinary but I have found some great lessons in that speech. Hence, I forwarded a link to the video to my entire team at BIsquared Consulting. Then I thought ‘Why not share it with the readers of my blog?’.

Here are the key takeaways for me from this speech:

1. Engineer-turned-entrepreneurs are very poor at managing cash. I am very much like Arun, never treating money as a rare commodity which does not come by easily. Abundance was my mindset and to a large extent, it worked throughout my professional life and suddenly everything changed in a few months after I started my company.

But you don’t learn big lesssons easily in life. And definitely not by reading a book or watching a video. I learnt the importance of managing cash by making multiple mistakes which came back to haunt me. I hope that I am more careful with managing cash now 🙂 – this is a great lesson for any entrepreneur who is lured with the option of borrowing or getting equity money from others to bootstrap a business.

2. You have to focus on one thing – I got this right from the beginning in my entrepreneurial journey. Not because I was a great at focusing on one thing at a time. But because I have tried to do too many things in too many different roles/industries before starting my entrepreneurial journey, I have learnt that the key to success is focus. I often tell my colleagues/partners who propose exciting new ideas/markets: “I am keeping my monkey tightly strapped; why do you want to give my monkey an easy escape?”. I read about “Shiny object syndrome” a few weeks and it applied to me a lot and to a lot of entrepreneurs in general. So, it was another great lesson.

3. Arun talked about the importance of location. I am not sure whether I got this one right or not. The reason for me to incorporate in Geneva, Swiss was to work with NGOs a lot but now that I have set up an office in India as well serving customers around the world, I am not really sure whether I have gotten this right.

If you are an entrepreneur or planning a venture sometime or if you are in a startup, please watch the speech – you might find some relevant lessons for you there. If you find the video useful, please let me know through comments.

Want to save time? Here is how you can play Youtube videos faster

Many of us watch TED talks and other educational videos that take up good bit of our time. We can watch many of these videos at a slightly higher playback speed so that we can get through the content in less time. This feature existed in video players like VLC on Windows and MPX player on Mac. Hence, I download the videos to my computer to watch them at a faster pace to save time. But many of the Youtube videos can’t be downloaded easily. Hence, I was looking for a way to play Youtube videos faster and I was surprised to find that such an option is available by default now.

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Do you want to improve your communication? Then understand the curse of knowledge

You might wonder “What? The curse of knowledge? Did I read it right?”. Yes, you have read it right and we are not talking about knowledge as a blessing, but knowledge as a curse. This is a popular concept and an extremely effective tool to improve any aspect of your communication – writing, presenting to others, talking and even writing a simple email. Let me explain.

Please recall a situation in your life in which you were interacting with an expert in a field that you didn’t know much about. Did you understand the expert’s language? How did the expert make you feel? Let me talk about a situation that I have recently encountered. Before reading this story, it would be better if you know that I am engineer running an IT consulting startup.

I was talking to an accountant about some transactions that I have to do in my accounting software to comply with the Swiss regulations for filing my company’s financial statements in Geneva. He told me that I have to debit this account, and credit that account and blah…blah… and it went straight over my head. I said “What? What? Can you please repeat that slowly?”. He repeated it not once but multiple times.

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