Skip to main content

Stay hungry, Stay Foolish 2.0 - "get uncomfortable"

For a long time,  "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" struck a chord. By this Steve Jobs meant that one should look at the future the same way a hitchhiker looks at an untraveled path - stay forever hungry for experience, stay foolish enough to never stop when the path becomes "safe" enough.

2012 is the year to 'get uncomfortable' by choice, for many reasons. For one, getting uncomfortable is the way to understand how the world is feeling right now - with politics, with jobs, with the economy, with climate change, with the future and with a general sense of purpose. For better part of the last 50 years, the imagined purpose of economic progress was to link people, cultures and worlds - to make everything work on a 'global' scale, as this meant more "efficiency" and "speed". But that train has made a round trip through the globe, once.

For another, there is less coordinated thinking in the leadership around the world towards painting a compelling vision for the future.  Even if there is, it is quite invisible in form and function. That kind of uncertainty can lead to new things, but only if people internalize the fact that they cannot outsource leadership and action beyond a point.

Finally, we are at the beginning of yet another cycle of change. Change in the way people get information, consume, learn and apply knowledge about the world to further their own self interests. Software is powering this change. We are quite far away from understanding what it takes to have a Henry Ford for software. But we are at the next crossroads between a democratic and open countryside, deeply walled gardens and heavily tolled murky forests. Many new powerful tools are at the hands of the mega providers of this infrastructure. Some of them will become downright scary, some will make the current technology look like child's play.

The long term is quite unpredictable. There will be even more regulation to try and stop people getting the power to determine their future. There will be more disconnect between decision makers and their ability to understand what it is they are making a decision about.


Getting uncomfortable is not an option. A few starters for 2012:

1. Make things an art form. This is the way to show skill in any science.
2. Become a beginner. Re-charge core skills and build new ones.
3. Don't look for leadership. Create it. Teach it.
4. Do "post-max" work - work beyond capability and break your mind every day.

5. Say 'No' to easy things, even those which were essential for getting here.
6. Deliberately unlearn what you don't need.
7. Practice silence, rest and inaction every day.




Comments

  1. Really liked this article!

    "There will be more disconnect between decision makers and their ability to understand what it is they are making a decision about." .....this is so true. Take Kapil Sibal's efforts to screen social media. What he does not realize is that online content is public, not hidden, and you can get to know more about hate-mongers by studying that content and following the leads that public posting on the net invariably provides. It also important that decision makers understand the difference between 'illegal' and 'controversial'. 'Illegal' comes within the purview of the government but 'controversial' does not.

    "Deliberately unlearn what you don't need"....great advice! This reminded me of a superb article I read in the Scientific American sometime ago:
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/08/26/lessons-from-sherlock-holmes-cultivate-what-you-know-to-optimize-how-you-decide/

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why PI is not 4, math is great, and other mysteries.

The other day, I found myself with an interesting problem of approximating a circle with the enclosing square which seems to prove pi = 4.

The paradox was forwarded by a most interesting puzzle collector, Surajit Basu, a friend and life long inspiration. See Sonata for Unaccompanied Tortoise for why!



Here is the offending paradox:

























This is an example of how counterintuitive questions can be answered with a little calculus.

The key is to realize that no matter how closely we approximate the circle, the orthogonal lines of the approximation formed by inverting the square corners will never actually be tangential to the circle.

Note carefully that as you get closer to 90 degrees, the horizontal line is much longer than the vertical. Same goes with the approximation at 0 and 180 - the vertical line is much larger than the horizontal component.

If we take a quadrant of the circle - let's say the top left quadrant, moving counter clockwise from top to left -  we can imagine that each inf…

Ambition vs. Fear.

Most important things in life don't come to us. Nor do we get them by seeking/wanting them. It comes from letting go of the unimportant stuff.

The hardest part is letting go of the tendency to take the world as is. This is a habit of our past successes.

But success is not a destination, it is a STOP sign. You stop, wait, and move on. Too often, we are paralyzed by success into the fear of the new. We stall on the road to a new life. We need to break our inertia and move.

Our thoughts and thought habits are hard to break. But that is where we have to spend the most energy. Thoughts are always competing strands  - of worries of the past and anxieties for the future. For some of us, they are cleanly separated into rivers that nurture every place they travel. For most, they are like the torrents and trickles -- competing, rushing somewhere, stopping completely elsewhere, always mixing, morphing, competing, winning, losing.

Our thoughts are the potential difference between the two pole…

Architecture, Engineering, Operations - iteration 1

The world has infinitely more stuff to be "done" nowadays. At least in the sense of building/running an institution that uses technology, there are many roles that are involved in making things work. The world of IT and technology in general makes the speed and variety possible. We now have a platform of IT that is globally scale-able if we can put some new thinking to the old problems of "getting things done".

There are great organizations that do this well, and they use "modern" IT principles to achieve this.

Fundamental to engineering a modern IT (or infrastructure organization) are the three roles of Architecture, Engineering and Operations. Some would say Architecture is encoded Engineering-history, but for now, we will keep them separate.

The popular definitions for these roles are about "output" delivered or the "domain" of discourse. The personality drives that determine the actual performance are not discussed, as far as I ca…