The Maths of Life

When a man marries his girlfriend, he immediately creates a vacancy.

Okay, this is not my quote. It is from James Goldsmith. But it doesn’t matter whose quote is it because the point is – it highlights an unpleasantly interesting truth.

The truth is, you like something when there are no strings attached. When strings get attached, you start disliking the same thing!

We observe it all the time, but we don’t pay attention to this pattern much. Here is a story that affirms this observation.

In 1999, I met with a person called Milan (name changed for privacy).

He had a clerical/administrative job in a school. His work hours were 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and his salary were more than enough to take care of his needs.

But Milan hated his job. His passion was teaching maths to children.

Milan was excellent with academic maths and loved teaching. A lot of students used to come to him to learn maths.

Frustrated with his boring job, he quit his job. Soon he rented a space, ordered some furniture, and open his maths coaching classes.

He got the first batch within just a week of opening the classes.

Within just 3 months, he was running about 4 batches in a day. He was happy with his work and he rented more space, partnered with a couple of other teachers and hired a few more teachers.

They were four people running their coaching classes and gaining a good name amongst young children and their parents because of their quality maths coaching.

More and more students started joining his maths classes. And he was almost compelled to start more batches.

Now, apart from teaching maths, he also had to look after the administrative and operational aspects of running a coaching class business.

It turned out that he just loved teaching maths, not running a coaching class business.

His operational costs were increasing day by day – and the revenues he was generating through fees was not enough to take care of the costs.

His “hobby” shifted from teaching maths to share-market day trading. He started hating maths and started spending more time at a sharebroker’s office.

To make a long story short, after a few months, he shut his classes down because he could not sustain it and got an administrative job again with some organization.

His life went on but certainly, it was not something that Milan and his near ones would have wished for him.

The Math of Life Utpal Vaishnav

Lessons:

  1. Don’t turn your hobby into a business (especially if you are not up for understanding the business aspects of converting your hobby into a business).
  2. Your boring looking job gives you time and money to pursue your hobby, be aware of that and find peace with it.
  3. In business, there are a lot of things that you do which you may not personally like but you still need to do. That’s normal. If you don’t know how to lead yourself on the face of unpleasant yet important activities of your business, you will be out of business soon.
  4. The maths of life is not 1+1 = 2. Its answer could be different in different situations. What people do not get is that both the digits (1) are defined passively – by a lot of external factors. In other words, in business, 1 does not represent a constant, it is a variable!

Your relationship with the hobby will remain healthy if you don’t try to convert it into a job – or a business.

The Tao of Understanding

The Tao of Understanding

When you understand kindness as kindness, mercilessness arises
When you understand love as love, hatred arises

Thus Happiness and Unhappiness produce each other
Right and Wrong bring about each other
Light and Dark reveal each other
Health and Illness reflect each other

The words have limitations
The written things have limitations
The said things have limitations
The understanding has limitations

Therefore the key
is not to “understand” such things

But to “experience” them …

Understanding goes away; experiences do not.

The Tao of Understanding is
not to try to understand the things,
but to experience them.

Concept Inspiration: Lao Tzu

Learning Techniques Vs. Learning Ownership

Jack puts in a lot of time to learn the techniques.

He’s a technique-biased learner. If you access his Dropbox folder called “To Learn,” you will see notes like this:

  • Top 7 ways to Write an Internal Office Memo That’s Not Boring
  • Top 10 SureFire Techniques to Lose Weight and Gain Muscles
  • What Everyone is Missing When Raising Their First Girl Child (and how not to)
  • Top 50 Tips to Make Money From Pharma Stocks From Day-Trading

Lots of how-tos …

The problem with this approach is that they are good to read but don’t always work as-is.

They need to be contextually modified to suit the specific needs.

Focusing merely on techniques is a great waste because it is not difficult to be good at a subject if we really choose to be.

We can be good at ANY subject if we choose to deal with an uncertain next and failures and frustration and the mess.

The problem is, we don’t want to take ownership to be good at something unless we find out that it is possible to for us to be good at that thing.

We expect others to coach us to be good at something while we do other stuff like updating facebook status, playing mobile games, attending a friend’s sister’s husband’s uncle’s daughter’s neighbour’s birthday party … or doing something else.

We want to be good at something while doing other stuff. Doing other stuff means our attention is divided and we are not 100% committed to be good at something.

What if we create a culture where the focus is on buying and selling ownership.
What if we create a culture where the focus is on buying and selling #ownership. Click To TweetWhen we buy ownership, we hold ourselves accountable to produce the results.

When we sell ownership, we have delegated a specific project or a task to a dependable person and that person has owned it.

Such a trade of ownership actually makes people choosing themselves.

A learner who chooses herself is unstoppable.

A learner who chooses herself is unstoppable. #habits Click To Tweet

Sure, it takes some time to get used to the uncomfortable situations that the trade of ownership puts you in but once got, it works as an extremely powerful tool.

Successful cultures practice trading of ownership. Successful individuals too.

Successful cultures practice trading of ownership. Successful individuals too. #success #habits Click To Tweet

What do you want to do?

Track Your Progress Daily

Do you track your progress daily?

Yes?

Imagine this scenario: an idea took over your energies and you felt passionate about it. You set your goals enthusiastically and started chasing them diligently.

Days passed … then some weeks … then some months …

… and then, on a lonely weekend evening, you’re wondering even though you have reached many of  your goals, you don’t feel accomplished. The degree of your fulfilment vs. the energy you brought-in are out of proportion and you feel should do something about it.

This has happened to me more than once and kept me wondering why this happens even after accomplishing some of the significant (sounding) goals I had set for myself.

Here’s the big idea – Track Your Progress Daily. Not only against individual small time goals but against your fundamental goal that you’ve consciously bought into.

You may be accomplishing many of the small-time goals but if you don’t track your progress against your fundamental life goal, it might turn out as a worthless accomplishment.

You might have progressed a lot in an individual goal but accomplishing that goal might have taken you afar from your fundamental goal.

Progress is important. Ensuring that your progress is in the direction of your fundamental life goal is even more important.

Track Your Progress Daily. Just a couple of minutes spent on doing this exercise has a power to make your life experiences more meaningful.