There is No Fate But What We Make: Life Lessons I wish I had earlier

Friday, May 08, 2009

Life Lessons I wish I had earlier

1. Opportunities arrive from unexpected sources at unexpected times. So do threats.
2. Take care of health. Health is indeed wealth. Keep your weight low. Take care of the teeth and knees. They can cause immense pain later. Don’t develop tartar and cavities in the teeth.
3. In an organizational context, when in doubt on whether to reveal or not, reveal. Reiterate message/risks.
4. Dramatize. Don't be plain and boring.
5. Consult. Even if it is only to use people as a sounding board.
6. Genuinely value loyalty and reward it. But can't live off yesterday's achievements.
7. Take time outs to recharge batteries.
8. Balance experience and naivety.
9. Give second chances to people.
10. Don't compromise on integrity. Hard to live with yourself if you are not.
11. Flight and inaction can sometimes be the best response. Live to fight another day.
12. Be proactive. It saves a lot of time and resources and exploit opportunities.
13. Foresee and tackle problems early.
14. Be honest, forthright and upfront.
15. Life is not fair. Get over it. The world owes you nothing. You are not the centre of the universe.
16. Things change with time. You cannot predict the changes. Leap of faith is required in joint efforts (such as marriages, companies)
17. You can control or predict very little. Be flexible and prepared for opportunities and threats.
18. Have some good friends.
19. Praise people behind their back.
20. Do good to people whenever you can, without expecting or asking for payoffs (at least not immediate payoffs).
21. Anyone does anything because he has an incentive. Incentives are extremely powerful. Align them to achieve goals - individual goals and team goals. Eliminate conflict of interest.
22. Be slow to judge negatively.
23. Schedule some quiet time for yourself. Think. It's not easy. But take a step back and think - SWOT or whatever else.
24. Lower your and your community's carbon footprint. Reuse/Reduce/Recycle. Don't hoard. Rent rather than buy (unless it's a long term asset, in which case other factors apply).
25. All progress happens through advancements in sciences. Keep abreast of progress.
26. Don't fret boredom. All achievements are partly due to talent and partly due to persistence.
27. Learn new things/ideas/skills. Build new relationships. Keep existing relations warm.
28. People are important. Teams are important. Teamwork is important.
29. Never miss an opportunity to shut up. Self incriminating stuff are said when we try to fill the silences. Use silence as an effective negotiating tool.
30. Prioritize and work on the important things. Balance urgent with important.
31. Money is like air. We can't live without it. But we don't live for air, do we? Appeal to self-actualization to motivate others (after the basic needs have been met).
32. You cannot count on anyone but yourself.
33. Appreciate generously.
34. Don't walk into a room talking. You never know who is inside.
35. You don't gain respect by cracking racist/misogynist/sardarji jokes. Even if people laugh at it, they secretly look down upon you if you crack such jokes.
36. Never say anything behind a person what you won't say in front of him.
37. Don't spill secrets. Don't encourage others to. One who spills to you isn't your friend either.
38. Good old fashioned politeness never hurts. It's ok to open and hold doors for women.
39. Acquire offbeat skills. Exotic dance, a new language, whatever. It makes a huge difference your outlook and people's perception.
40. Mocking someone is a waste of breath.
41. Think many times before firing someone from a job.
42. If you feel hurt, express it.
43. When you are wronged by someone, don't bottle the anger. Don't get hysterical but express your anger and disappointment clearly. Don't tolerate anyone taking advantage of you.
44. The world tramples the weak and worships the strong.
45. People project themselves on to others. Don't ascribe motives to others based on your own nature.
46. It always seems to you that people are in control. Most of the time they are not.
47. Don't attribute to ill-will what can be attributed to incompetence.
48. We are selfish and self-obsessed. Accept it, embrace it. All human progress is motivated by so called vices such selfishness, laziness. Nothing wrong with that.
49. It may seem to you that everyone is watching you. The reality is people are bothered about themselves. They are concerned about how they look and not how you look.
50. Back yourself. Don't undersell. Your success and achievement are limited by not your wealth, caste, looks, skills, but your self-belief. You achieve what you think you will achieve. So think bigger.
51. Data driven decisions can only go so far. Don't get ensconced into complacency just because the decision is data driven. Black swan events are always a possibility.
52. Life is too short to be petty.
53. Mountaineers don't carry bricks in the backpack.
54. People tend to believe what is convenient to them. Examples of such beliefs are:
a. When a person makes a profit in the share market the gain is attributed to skill. A loss is attributed to bad luck, bad timing, evil corporates, evil big bulls, Harshad Mehta etc.
b. When a person doesn't get a job it is attributed to bad luck/ bad interviewer/whatever. But if he does get it, it is due to his ability/skills/experience/potential.
c. all terrorist incidents are sponsored by country x
55. Don't fall for "Everyone is doing it, it can't be wrong" trap blindly.
56. Don't wait for a 100% consensus.
57. People crave for leadership. They'll follow you if you make them believe you can provide leadership.
58. You always have to answer "What's in it for me?" before people do what you ask or follow your leadership.
59. Formal education isn't all that it is cracked up to be. Plenty of people have achieved success without it.
60. This too will pass. Nothing lasts forever.
61. Be conscious of "self talk". Your destiny is made by what you say to yourself in your head. Losers brood. Winners think and mind-talk themselves into success.
62. People rarely change views when someone tries to make them change views. People rarely believe they have erred in any way. Even Al Capone never thought he had committed a crime (though he had just shot a police officer dead who merely asked him for a driving license).
63. People regret much more about things they didn't do rather than what they did do.
64. No point being shy. People are self-absorbed anyway. They won't watch you.
65. If you exude self-confidence, people will take that at the face value and believe in your abilities.
66. People follow a simple heuristic - "looks good = is good". Taller and more beautiful earn more for the same job. You can't fight it. No one said life is fair. If you are aesthetically challenged, work around using skills and self-confidence. If you are gifted, milk it.
67. Some people are smart and will notice any attempt to hoodwink. Maintain integrity.
68. You cannot know in advance which initiatives will bear fruits. Work on many. If you keep doing the right things, something will click and bring results.
69. Avoid fraternization at work. Avoid cliques. Separate personal and work life.
70. Pick friends carefully. You are defined by the company you keep. Your outlook in life is also determined by the same.
71. Pick your enemies carefully. You mark the person as an equal when you pick an adversary. Learn to let go sometimes. Not every battle needs to be won. Not every argument needs to be won.
72. Listen. You learn more by listening than by talking.
73. Wealth creation can be done by (a) knowing your financial goals, risk capacity and risk appetite (b) asset allocation (c) giving it time. Ignore noise created by TV channels, newspapers, magazines, tips from friends and brokers. Focus on asset allocation and passive Index based products. The odds of you or that star fund manager beating the market over a long period of time is extremely small.
74. Serious wealth needs exploiting a good leverage. Working as an employee or a professional means you leverage your time and skills. Being an entrepreneur means you leverage an idea/product/patent/others time and skills. The 2nd lever is a better one and scales more. Hence more wealth is created this way. The risk of failure from a lever is commensurate to its payoff.
75. It's easier to seek forgiveness than permission.
76. When you take a decision, be prepared to accept and live with all the consequences. You cannot cherry pick only the good results.
77. Your parents are probably the only ones who are truly happy at your success.
78. Most things in life are mixed bags – they have both pros and cons. You always have to weigh in both pros and cons and decide. A clear black or white case is rare.
79. When someone asks for your opinion or feedback, don't give it right away. You may feel flattered and blurt out immediately. Hold your tongue. A lot of times, when someone asks you for an opinion, he doesn't really want your opinion. He just wants someone to agree with his pre-formed opinion. So ask some follow up and probing questions to ascertain the true intention.
80. You will never have enough time.
81. Plan but don’t take too long planning.
82. Cut your losses early. Do not postpone unpleasant decisions. They only get harder and costlier with time.
83. Our mind is not very good at evaluating risks and probabilities. (See some cognitive biases here). This is what makes a person on Bangalore roads ride his motor cycle on the wrong side of the road, without a helmet - while covering his face with a (fairly dirty) mask hoping that will protect him from Swine-flu. Clueless about risks and probabilities!
Humans find it hard to work with abstract ideas - for instance, most people cannot appreciate buying medical insurance as the premium cost is concrete & immediate, while the benefit is abstract & distant. The fact is, medical costs is the #1 reason for people falling into poverty in India.
Many people would rather drive an expensive car on loan, instead of an inexpensive one (or a motor cycle/bicycle/bus).
All we can do us to be conscious of it, recognize it and try and not fall for these cognitive pitfalls.

1 Comments:

At Friday, February 18, 2011 2:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Article.

 

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