The Art Of Getting Good At Something

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Taking up random jobs or projects where you have no experience is under-rated. Here’s why

There is a a random project or job that sits at your desk. It doesn’t have a clear road-map, or worse yet, it doesn’t even align to your current skills. What do you do?

Most of us have a fear of taking up new things. This happens because it’s an unknown territory. From an evolutionary standpoint, this looks like a pretty good strategy.

“Don’t do scary stuff and you will not be eaten for lunch”

However, we are far more evolved to take up that bullshit, don’t you agree?

Personally, I have taken up jobs and projects with almost no idea of how I am going to take them from A to B. With zero experience, I still dived in. The fear of unknown has always made a strong effort to drag me down, but to hell with it.

Was I foolish? Maybe.

Did I fail? Yes.

Did I learn anything new? More than I asked for.

“Unknown” is a magical place where nothing magical happens. It is the same place where businesses die, organizations fail, and people die of boredom.

Don’t know how to write? Reach out to a friend who needs some writing help and tell them you are going to write for them. Better yet, write for them and show it.

Will you be amateurish? Yep.

Will you sound bad? Maybe.

Will you learn something? 100%.

Will you be ridiculed? If yes, quit the friendship.

Don’t know how to code? Take up a friend’s project who wants to get his portfolio made online.

Don’t know how to design? Reach out to a small business and help them out with social media creatives.

Don’t know how to do videos? Reach out to a business who wants to up their video game and create short videos for them.

The point is simple: If you want to get good at something, take up a project for someone and go do it. Do it even when you have no idea of you are going to do it. If you fail, you will end up learning something, and that is equally valuable.

You will not become an expert — no — but you would have started on a journey of constant learning and growth. And that is invaluable.

There are tonnes of free resources available all over the internet. There are hundreds of websites that need you to come over and learn in exchange for your attention. Give them your attention!

If anything goes wrong, trust yourself on this — “You will figure it out”.


Tell me a story of how YOU figured it out, how you learned something all on your own and defeated the “unknown” monster. Can’t wait to hear!

https://upscri.be/3b9c4d


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The Surprising Art of “Surprises”

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Source: Giphy

I was at my desk in deep thought. I had just finished a warm cup of coffee and my only plan then was to switch to a relaxed playlist on 8tracks. There was nothing special about that day.

But then, my doorbell rang. I had received an envelope from a close friend.

To set context, the only time I received envelopes was the time when my college sent a monthly performance report card to my parents. So, when I saw an envelope — and from a friend — I did not know how to react.

When I opened it, I had a huge smile. It had a travel postcard wrapped up with a beautiful message — asking me to explore, to discover, and to be surprised.

Why are surprises good?

When what happens is not what I expect, I have to rethink my understanding of the world.

Surprises create saliency.

They create moments that break away from the clutter and shift our worldview — even if for a brief movement — in a way that rewires us.

One of the reasons birthdays are the most memorable days of the year is because we associate them with surprises. The rest of the year seems boring — until something happens that takes us by surprise. In life, surprises are generally under-rated.

As we age, time passes quickly — or so we feel. This happens because when we are young, we have a higher number of “newer” experiences, things that take us by surprise, like us a first date, first coffee, first failure e.t.c.

Source: Giphy

These new experiences give us a feeling that we are aging slowly.

As adults, the experience novelty wears off and hence, we feel old (terribly old).

Takeaway #1: Surprise yourself or one day you will die without experiencing anything remarkable.

If I were to nominate the best feeling ever it will be the feeling of getting surprised (for the good).

Putting Surprises To Work

Workplaces are crowded. There are a million tasks at hand and everyone is busy running the show. In general, attention span has gone down significantly and we don’t really know how to build it from the ground up.

Source: Yours truly

So, how do we communicate our best work to a crowd who wants to listen but there are cats and business plans who own their attention? Surprise them.

Have a project in mind? Under promise, over deliver. Don’t satiate expectations because they normalize the effort. Instead, deliver above those expectations. This way, you will surprise people and get their attention when it is needed the most.


Your best resume on a paper is still a resume on a paper. Raghav Haran gives great advice on this: Instead of sending in your resume, show the potential recruiter what you can do for them.

Surprise them with you work — show how you can take the company from A to B.

This works because HR professionals receive thousands of applications every year. The only way to stand out is by engineering surprises. Who would expect a 23 year old to proactively attack a pain point by developing an application that solves it? No one.

That’s the thing with surprises — people don’t expect them.

So next time you want to stand out, or make your relationships work, make sure you can’t be predicted. Don’t let them define you.

Surprise people. And yourself.


https://upscri.be/3b9c4d

Thank you for reading! Surprise someone by sharing ❤ this with them.

7 Things I Tell Myself Every Morning

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Source: Giphy

And you should too!

  1. Invest in your education: Since college is over, it’s the time to pick up real education. You will not get a degree for this but the world will always test you in coffee shops, bars, conferences, and workplaces.
  2. Learn to ask for help: Dump your ego. Don’t know how to do something? Ask for it. Tim Ferris called up several people (including James Altucher ) to ask for Podcast related advice. Now, he nails it.
  3. Be consistent: Learn to show up. Consistency makes you a winner by default. Read this: air light time space
  4. Learn to say no: Under-rated skill. Sooner you learn this, the better you become at prioritizing things in life.
  5. Entertain wisdom, not authority: Questioning authority will not make you a lot of friends in workplaces but it will always push you toward the right ones.
  6. Take risks: You will hear a lot of people asking you to take risks. Please include me in that.
  7. Travel: Don’t just make a plan. If you can’t find a companion to travel with, travel solo. But travel as much as you can. Travel rewires you in ways little else can. So shut up and book tickets!

Lastly,

Don’t forget to hustle.

https://upscri.be/3b9c4d

Owning Up

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It takes a lot of courage to walk up to someone and admit that you fucked up. It’s much more difficult to say “I am sorry”.

Our mistakes make us look bad — or so we think — and hence, a lot of us put up a white blanket of excuses on them. Every time someone questions our work or the deadline we missed, our natural defense system kicks in and it starts justifying our stance from every corner possible.

“Committed a mistake” can easily top the list of “Things That Make You Look Stupid”. If it’s a “silly” mistake, it’s going to go down in the list of “The Most Embarrassing Things That Happened To Me”.

In certain workplaces, mistakes are frowned upon; after all, failure is the first step to getting fired. Given this, we become too scared of the consequences that come with admitting a mistake.

“Too naive?”, “Incompetent?”, “Impatient?”, “Lazy?”.

We don’t know what category we will get filed in if we own up. But what if we don’t take responsibility for our shit?

In many more workplaces, mistakes are celebrated; after all, a mistake is the first step to a milestone. Given this, by not owning up to our mistake, we risk learning, wisdom, and most importantly, credibility.

When you walk up to your boss and tell her/him — “Hey! I know I fucked up. But now, I am looking for any suggestions/advice you can offer so I can bring this up to speed and close it” — you look far more confident than you did a minute ago.

A genuine apology makes you look credible, trustworthy and human — characteristics that not many can contain in modern workplaces. Owning up is for the courageous.

So today, remember to take up the responsibility for your actions.

The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received

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The Five Steps To Avoiding The Writer’s Block

Imagine that one of your good friends is sitting by your side at your favorite coffee house. It’s sunny (or rainy?) outside and your friend is excited to speak to you about something. Lately, they have been thinking about [insert topic] and have some questions [your blog title] about it .

What do you do?

  1. You listen attentively to their question and gather as much information as you can. [Research]
  2. You think of ways you can add value. [Idea generation]
  3. You add your thoughts to your ideas. [Draft]
  4. You refine your thoughts a little [Editing]
  5. You speak [Publish]

In all these steps, you are talking with and thinking about just one person — your friend, your colleague or Rachel (an imaginary person with a problem of their own).

Too often, we fail to ship our work because we think too broad. In writing, this is nothing less than a curse. If you want to avoid writer’s block, be sure to focus on one person who you want to write for.

It’s just like the famous Starfish Story.

“ The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

If your writing makes a difference for just one person, it’s worth it. So write for that one starfish who is waiting to hear you.

If you think this one made a difference for you, hit recommend so that it can make one for others too. (Oh it rhymed!)

https://upscri.be/3b9c4d