I found this question reverberating in my head during the conversation. The setting was a meeting with a group of my close friends and their spouses. Though our careers and destinies have taken us in different directions, the occasional opportunity presents itself for regrouping and reliving old times. As is the norm, after the usual frolic, peppered with anecdotes narrated umpteen times to the same magnitude of laughter, and strands of discussions that would seem like pure nonsense to a rank outsider, the mood takes on a philosophical overtone. That’s when the real essence starts to flow. Musings on career, marriage and life purpose take over.
I hear a lot of advice, sermons and the like. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has suggestions.
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Some folks taste a little bit of success, and develop ‘frog-in-a-well’ syndrome. They grow the delusion of grandiosity – that they know it all. They live in their own little fiefdom without much exposure or knowledge of bigger and better ways out there. They deprive themselves of mental enrichment, and would like others to follow suit.
Then there are those who have suddenly discovered a forgiving platform that gives the opportunity to publish and broadcast their thoughts – social media. It’s a great tool when the information is good and useful, it’s a harmful tool when the broadcaster’s thoughts are dumb and bull.
For a learner, these are tough times. The moot question is….who should you learn from?
Time and again I have found myself saying (to others and myself), “see this as a thing that builds a skill within you.” That is whenever one comes across a personal or professional challenge, an inner or outer strife (with yourself or someone else), a conflict or a discomfort-causing activity. Its all about life skills.
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Coming to think of it, we must all adopt this mindset – that life is one big, long skill development program. An apprenticeship with a practical curriculum wherein we are constantly exposed to new opportunities to develop newer skills.
I face it every time – a confidence crisis. When I have to speak in public, delivering a workshop session, talking to a group of people, network during an event, or even writing an article.
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That tiny negative voice inside me starts questioning my ability. I can sense myself shrinking, with statements such as, “they are not going to accept you”, “who do you think you are?”, “why did you sign up for this, its so uncomfortable” and so on. I can feel my chest constricting, and butterflies in my belly.
What’s up? Those ANTs (automatic negative thoughts, as Dr. Daniel Amen calls them) start creeping all over my system and eat away my confidence. But I don’t give up. I start crushing them. One by one. And then I launch into the activity.
Are you worried about your decreasing productivity? Are you a knowledge worker who handles multiple projects with a growing task list, requiring long periods of focused attention? Do you feel your capacity for concentration-filled work dwindling due to constant interruptions and distractions?
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In this age of information overload, the one capacity that human beings are fast losing is ‘attention’. It’s common knowledge now that the current human attention span is less than that of a goldfish. How did we end up here?