Is that so – a modern Zen Story

Alex, an intelligent, detailed oriented and calm Computer Programmer was praised by his colleagues for his ability to solve complex problems without getting stressed.

He was working with a Software Development Company and he was so respected that many clients used to put a clause in the contract that the company would get the contract only if Alex is part of the development team.

One day a young and attractive software developer, Lisa joined the company. She was to be the point of contact for the company’s biggest client account. What’s more, she was hired based on a strong recommendation from the same client.

Few months passed and the client discovered that the software version they received had a business-critical bug. It made the client upset and they asked Lisa about who was responsible for causing the bug. She would not confess initially but after much questioning, at last, she named Alex.

With great anger, the client went to Alex. “Is that so?” was all Alex would say.

 

Is that so?

“Now you will need to work on the day and night and fix the critical bug within next 24 hours or your company will lose the contract and also the legal battle.” The client demanded.

“Is that so?” Alex said calmly as he accepted to fix the critical bug.

Few months later when Lisa could not stand it longer, she told the client the truth: the real bug was caused by her and not Alex.

The customer went to Alex and asked for his forgiveness, to apologize at length and offer them praise and bonus and express their gratitude.

This time also, Alex was calm and peaceful. All he said was: “Is that so?”

Lesson: Whatever the problem, keep calm and always focus on the solution.

Whatever the problem, keep calm and always focus on the solution. #hackyou Click To Tweet

Make it Great with an Accountability Partner

You are clear about the primary aim of your life.

You have set your chief SMART goal.

You have a compelling list of 100 unique reasons why you should reach the set goal.

You have a list of 3 or more SMART sub-goals that you must achieve to hit the goal you have set.

Still there is a strong possibility that you will miss the goal. What could that be?

Lack of accountability.

We, the humans, have a wonderful capability to find out reasons why something cannot be done. Valid, acceptable and compelling reasons why something is not possible.

Those reasons are caused by what we know as “resistance”.

Resistance is one of the most powerful negative forces you experience in your entire lifetime.

Resistance is your biggest enemy. Resistance aims to kill. Resistance aims to kill the possibility to take actions.

Oh … damn resistance.

Sometimes the resistance wears the mask of reasons. Sometimes it wears the mask of logic. Sometimes it wears the mask of reality. What’s more, sometimes it wears the mask of yourself … and your other (vested!) interests.

And, you do not even know that you have to fight with your own self who is now representative of your enemy that stays within you … resistance!

Reflect on below thought from Pressfield’s masterpiece book called  Do The Work on resistance:

“Resistance is the Dragon; you are the Knight” ~ Steven Pressfield

And you know what, you slay the dragon once, and he will never have power over you again.

Public accountability is one such powerful tool that can help you to slay the dragon.

When you have a project to be delivered, a business to start or life change to make, your inner dragon will tell you all the reasons why you should not be doing that thing.

This issue is caused by the design of humans. This is how we are. Let us accept it so we can do something about it.

By making your goals public and creating situations where you are held accountable, you tell your inner dragon to shut its fire-spitting mouth.

For example, if you make a public announcement of your personal goal in your community, your public Facebook profile or on your personal blog, it is an example of applying public accountability in your life.

Now, there are private goals that you may not want to share publicly. What to do? How to get the benefits of public accountability without making your goals public?

By having one or more private accountability partners.

accountability partner

Here are some of the traits that you would look for in your private accountability partners:

a) Accessibility: They should be accessible to you on a regular basis. It is great if your accountability partner is within the same family, same office premises or the same city where you can easily access them.

b) Choice: They should accept themselves as their accountability partner. Someone might have assigned or insisted an accountability partner to you, but they should choose themselves as your accountability partner nonetheless.

c) Relevance: They should be able to relate to your goals in some manner. For example, if your goal is to lose 6 kg weight in 60 days and you pick a foodie accountability partner who thinks it is a wasteful thinking, it won’t help.

d) Respect: You should be able to respect your accountability partner and s/he should be able to respect you. You may have a difference of opinions but as if they don’t respect for who you are, it does not work.

It does not matter what job title or experience or gender your accountability partner have, it matters that your accountability partner will make you accountable such that you achieve your goal.

Your accountability partner could be your friend, colleague, boss, spouse or even a social media contact you made online. Whosoever s/he is, if s/he follows the following 100 rules for being an accountability partner, it will work:

100 Rules for Being an Effective Accountability Partner

Rule #1:

An accountability partner will make sure that her partner achieves the set goal.

Remaining 99 rules don’t matter!

FAQs About Accountability Partner

Q1: Why accountability partner?
A1: Because you are smart. You know how to lie to yourself. Your accountability partner won’t allow you to do that!

Q2: Can my spouse, or colleague can be my accountability partner?
A2: Yes, they can.

Q3: What one thing an accountability partner should do on a regular basis?
A3: One thing that accountability partner does on a regular basis is to connect her partner with the possible outcome of the goal once achieved. Having said that, there are no set rules or steps that work for everyone; still the accountability partner will make her partner realize that you are accountable to take actions such that you can reach the goal.

Q4: What ONE thing that accountability partner must not do?
A4: Accountability partner does not disempower her partner intentionally or unintentionally. Sure, during the process she might learn that a particular technique might not work – so she can communicate the same but in a constructive manner. In a way, that empowers her partner to achieve the goal, not to keep away with the goal based on the discovered knowledge that a particular technique might not work.

Q5: What is one understanding that accountability partner would practice from?
A5: An accountability partner would practice the relational accountability. She’d understand that accountability is the willingness to give an account to someone else of your actions and motives. It is a give and take relationship where the purpose is to empower each other to achieve the goal.

In conclusion:
Accountability Partners can help you reach your goals sooner than later and help you build a more strengthened version of yourself.

Leverage it now!

To Hell With The Critics, Long Live Criticism

Do you remember the people who criticise you?

Or you care about just the criticism and take corrective measures if you think you can improve?

It’s a “Who Vs. What” question.

criticism

Now think about this: if you remember the people who criticise you, your natural inclination will be to win over their hearts and do the things to please them.

When you do something to “please” someone, your act gets biased. Your such act will make you stressful. Is such an act worth practicing? You know the answer.

But if you listen to just the criticism to understand the critic’s point of view, and if you are convinced, take corrective measures for improvement, the scenario changes.

When it comes to dealing with criticism, ‘What’ matters more than ‘Who.’

Don’t think of critics. Fix the act that caused criticism (or ignore it if you don’t care).

Think of people you love … your friends; your family; your kids; your spouse (if you still love her, or him) …

That’s much better use of the most scarce resource you have – your remaining time in this world.

Some people live their lives thinking that they have unlimited time in this world. That’s not true. Your time is limited. Here’re the 7 most common deathbed regrets. Not worth having for sure.

Do something that gives you happiness. Learn from the criticism but to hell with the critics. You better do it!

Zen Story: Will You Choose to Be My Coach?

A coach saw five of the interns practicing software engineering. When they took a break, the coach asked the interns, “Why do you write code?”

The first intern replied, “Coding is an in-demand, high paying career. I’m glad that I will not have to do the clerical work that some of my school friends are doing in their jobs.”

The coach praised the intern, saying, “You’re a smart engineer. When you will gain more experience, you won’t have to worry about coaching like I do.”

The second intern replied, “I love the constructs, structures and even more important, the business impact that my code would create.”

The coach praised him, “Your senses are active and you see more than many others. Good for your career.”

The third intern replied, “When I write the code, I feel so content that I am creating something useful for the people who would use the app.”

The coach gave praise to the third intern, “Your mind will easily grasp the programming techniques of today and future and make you a competent programmer.”

The fourth intern answered, “As I write the code, I create a systematic something that will make people’s lives better.”

The coach was pleased and said, “You are riding on the golden path which will offer you win-win and favorable situations in your life.”

The fifth intern replied, “I write code to write code.”

The coach went and sat at the feet of the fifth intern and said,  “I am your student. Will you choose to be my coach?”

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?

A Lion in Search of a Circus

When Simba, the Lion, didn’t know that a circus was a possible home for him, his life was different.

He had so much freedom, many opportunities, and so much choice.

He was wired to lead. He was wired to roar. He was wired to kill.

Kill like a Lion.

A-Lion-in-Search-of-a-Circus

Then came circus. And the ringmaster.

Initially, Simba didn’t like the circus but eventually he compromised and surrendered himself.

If he would do exactly as the ringmaster asked him to do, he would get a piece of meat.

If he would refuse to do as the ringmaster asked him to do, he will have to sleep hungry.

If he’d do what the ringmaster wanted even without asking, he would get one more piece of meat.

Following the ringmaster’s orders was a better deal.

So he rewired himself to listen to and follow the ringmaster’s orders.

He was now an integral part of the circus.

His life became easy. Follow the orders and get the food. On some days, he would be allowed to have sex with the lioness who used to stay in a nearby cage.

Simba thought to himself, “Life at circus is not bad at all. I get the food without having to kill anyone and I get to spend some good time with the lioness I developed a crush on.”

As the years passed, Simba thought that the ringmaster was his “true” master and if he would please him, his life would continue to be easy.

Everything worked well for several years, but one day, for some reason, the circus owner decided to close the circus down.

The circus owner was happy with Simba. He thought at this point, rather than selling him to another circus, he would send him back to his real home, into the wild.

And he did it.

That day was difficult for Simba. There was no ringmaster. No shows. No noise of people applauding Simba’s performance. There was no food at his fingertips.

Simba was hungry and he had to arrange for his food on his own.

But he didn’t feel like home. The wild was perhaps too wild for him. He didn’t want to stay there anymore. He needed to be with a circus. Any circus.

He sat under a tree thinking, “It would be great if I find another circus. I want someone to come and take me to the circus again …”

He was the Lion. The King. Yet he needed a place to hold him, a spot where he didn’t have to assume the responsibility.

If he would work with a circus, he’d get food, sex and sense of safety.

Simba was no longer a Lion. His habits were changed. Sure, he looked like a Lion but didn’t remain one. He could roar, but he could not choose.

Why wasn’t he a Lion anymore? Did he forget hunting?

No.

But after living a passive life with the circus and after following orders from the ringmaster, he forgot to choose himself.

Simba hadn’t read James Altucher‘s book – Choose Yourself . Especially the page #4 which goes as below:

“That’s when it clicked. When everything changed. When I realized that nobody else was going to do it for me. If I was going to thrive, to survive, I had to choose myself. In every way.”

~James Altucher, Choose Yourself, pg #4

If you don't choose yourself, you don't remain Lion even though you were born as a Lion. Click To Tweet

If you are a Lion, then you hunt. You don’t ridicule yourself by following orders of the ringmasters.

If you are a programmer, then you program. You don’t fool yourself by copy/pasting code from stakeoverflow.com and call yourself a Programmer.

You are not what's available to you. You're not what happens to you. You are what you choose to be. Click To Tweet

Hunt every day. Program every day. Keep your reflexes sharpened. Read Choose Yourself from James Altucher today and be a real Lion who leads the wild, not just Simba. 

Or go in search of a circus.