Tag: books

Integrating Paranoia and Optimism

In the wise words of Intel founder, Andy Grove, “only the paranoid survive.” Imagine our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, constantly surrounded by risks and dangers. Their paranoia kept them alive. If you’re reading this today, it’s because everyone in your lineage survived, and mostly because they were paranoid.

To be paranoid and survive, you must integrate two opposing ideas.

First, recognize what could kill or destroy you, or drain your energy, talent, or time. If you’re managing a project, think about what might ruin your best-laid plans. But don’t stop there. You also need optimism to counteract that paranoia.

Optimism is what keeps us moving forward instead of giving up in despair. It’s believing that life will turn out well and that we can improve our circumstances.

Roger Martin discusses this concept in his book “Opposable Mind,” explaining the importance of integrating these two opposing ideas.

The ability to face the tension of opposing ideas constructively and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each. – Opposable Mind, Roger Martin

In today’s world, many people lean heavily towards one end of the spectrum: either overly optimistic or pessimistic. But to truly thrive, we must integrate paranoia and optimism. By doing so, we can not only survive but flourish as we face the challenges ahead.

I’m not reading books this year

This year, I’m not reading books. Rather I’m focusing on ideas.

Books can be a good way to improve yourself, and it can be enlightening to engage with the thoughts of great minds. But, this pursuit can become empty when reduced to mere statistics – reading a book a year or 100 books a year. Instead, I’d like to focus on one idea and explore it deeply.

Pick an idea, implement it, and let it grow on you; examine it from every angle so that you understand it better.

Here are 12 ideas that have transformed my life; pick one or all.

  1. When you figure out your calling, everything else falls into place. Many people wander aimlessly, copying others’ dreams. Find your true calling, and chase it relentlessly with courage. The moment you figure out what you’re here for, you can silence the world and live your life to the fullest. You might find your calling by writing your obituary.
  2. Nurture your soul – it’s where all growth comes from. As a Christian, daily Bible reading, prayer, and church involvement nourish me. Your external progress is directly proportional to how much you grow on the inside. Without a solid foundation inside, all your growth is just a sham.
  3. Make memories – happiness blooms from them. Don’t chase fleeting pleasures; instead, create lasting memories. We don’t find happiness in solitary pleasures like movies or cricket matches – they’re fleeting. Create lasting happiness by making memories with others. Get your friends together and enjoy hiking, jogging, or helping the underprivileged. All these things will increase your happiness.
  4. Think probabilistic, because life is rarely precise. Precision matters sometimes – during surgery, landing a plane, or connecting calls – but most of our day-to-day lives are based on probabilities. Learn to decide based on probabilities and weighing the odds of various outcomes.
  5. The quality of your life depends on how many uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have. Many of us face tough situations with a fight or flight attitude. Whether it’s confronting a bully boss, negotiating a raise, or soothing an angry partner, we don’t know how to deal with it. Either we avoid or we argue. Learn to deal with these situations with confidence and peace.
  6. Build skills that generate and exploit options. Develop a daily system for honing your abilities, focusing on skills that open up multiple possibilities. Then figure out how to take advantage of them. You’ll go from strength to strength as you grow and take advantage of these opportunities.
  7. Embrace the mindset of “I am okay, you are okay.” Many of us struggle with feelings of inferiority-I come from a village, I can’t speak English, and I don’t look as handsome as someone else. All of us have inferiority complexes, but the first thing you need to know is that you’re okay. You’re perfect as you are. Self-esteem and confidence soar when you embrace who you are. Remember, others are okay too. Embrace their flaws and respect them. You’ll be able to deal with life better this way.
  8. “Cloud or dirt”. Don’t be afraid to dream big, but also roll up your sleeves. Some people only think big but can’t execute, while others work tactically and let someone else call the shots. Develop both your 10x thinking and skills to bring those dreams to life.
  9. Don’t listen to people who don’t have skin in the game. Most people give advice without any experience or investment in what they’re talking about. Seek out people who will benefit from their ideas or suffer if those ideas fail. You’ll flourish if you surround yourself with these people.
  10. Create intentional leverage points in your life. Like Archimedes, give me a lever, and I’ll move the world. When you find your leverage, your life will transform, grow, and flourish. It’s not just about money; it’s about every aspect of life. So, carve out your own leverage points. You can take it a step further and aim for permissionless leverage. You can put your creativity out there and gain leverage without anyone’s approval by writing, podcasting, or creating visuals.
  11. Luck is the other side of risk. We often focus on risk – taking out insurance or having risk departments in companies – but not enough on luck. It’s just the flip side of risk. Think about how you can cultivate luck in your life and expand your luck surface.
  12. Build a flywheel in your life. This concept comes from Amazon’s shareholder letters – improving one component leads to improving the next. It’s tough to get started, but once it’s going, it spins faster and faster, bringing you more leverage and luck. I’ve crafted a flywheel for my life: Wealth, Insights, Network, and Self-Control. When I enhance my wealth, I gain more insights; when I gather more insights, I connect with better people and opportunities. I’ve nurtured this WINS flywheel for four or five years, and my life has changed for the better.

Feel free to adopt any of the above ideas, or even choose a different one. Live it, breathe it, absorb all its knowledge, and act on it. You’ll have a great life.

Wishing you a magical year.

Mercenaries, misfits, and missionaries in an organization

There are three kinds of employees in any organisation – mercenaries, misfits, and missionaries

The mercenaries are transactional. Most of the time they are great at what the company wants them to do, but they’re only in it for the money. If another company offers them a little more, they’ll switch. There’s only one thing they love and are loyal to – money.

There will always be misfits in an organization, no matter what management does. Misfits may come in as misfits or evolve into one. When there is an urgent need, hiring a misfit might be the only option, even if the management knows that the person is a misfit. There are times when existing employees become misfits. A company might change direction as it grows, or a person’s personal situation might change and they become misfits.

Lastly, there are missionaries. They not only bring passion and competence to work, but also rally teams to accomplish impossible missions winning awards and appreciation for the team. They can go out there and find the best talent.

Treating all three equally is a huge mistake.

Missionaries don’t always demand privileges. Failing to appreciate them and not taking care of them well would be deadly. They’re proactive and have agency, so they have valuable connections outside the company. It’s easy for them to get a job. The only reason they haven’t moved on is because they still believe in their mission.

Every company needs mercenaries. You can’t eliminate them. You’ve got to manage them. They know what they’re worth and will demand money and privileges. You have to engage them on their terms and satisfy them because they have skills and competence.

Get rid of the misfits as soon as possible. Your company culture will deteriorate if you’re complacent in dealing with the misfits. They’ll breed and bring more misfits.

This post was inspired by one of my favorite books, Blue Sweater. Jacqueline Novogratz, the author says in the book, “it is said that three kinds of people come to Africa: missionaries, mercenaries, and misfits.”