Notes to Self

Thoughts on psychology, spirituality and soft skill development for personal improvement


How to Quit

Not finding anyone to play with, a kid took out his baseball bat and decided to practice alone. He said out aloud, "I am the greatest baseball player in the world" and threw the ball up. He swung his bat and missed. He picked up the ball and repeated, "I am the greatest baseball player in the world". He threw the ball, swung his bat and missed.


Dauntless, he concentrated hard for a moment on the bat and ball in his hand. Again he said, "I am the greatest baseball player in the world" and with a determined focus, threw the ball up and swung the bat hard. But again he missed.

He paused for moment.

And then picking up the ball, told himself, "Wow, I am the world's greatest pitcher!".

The moral of the story -

"What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts." - Seth Godin

Marissa Ann Mayer, the vice-president for search products and user experience at Google, offers a similar counter intuitive advice - fail faster. In her words (from Turning Limitations into Innovation):

"Have you ever wondered how a product so lame got to market, a movie so bad actually got released, a government policy so misguided got passed?
In cases like these, the people working on it have spent so much time and are so personally invested that it's too painful to walk away. They often know the project is misguided, yet they see the effort through to the painful, unsuccessful end. That's why it's important to discover failure fast and abandon it quickly. A limited investment makes it easier to walk away and move on to something else that has a better chance of success."

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Life As I Know It (2007)

"Fools say they learn from experience. I prefer to profit by others' experience." - Bismarck
  1. Knowledge doesn't make you intelligent.
    Understanding does. Understanding = Knowledge + Experience. Virgins can read the Kamasutra, but one can only appreciate it when it is practiced. The current leaders of US and UK "know" democracy. But by trying to force it down the throats of others, they show their lack of understanding of it (because they've forgotten that nobody "gave" them democracy).

  2. Faith is more important than religion.
    Even the atheists believe in something. It is faith (in whatever we believe) that keeps us going. We lose our self if we lose faith.

  3. People will always judge you by your actions and not your thoughts and beliefs.

  4. Judge people not just through their actions but their motivations for it too.

  5. Anxiety can result from avoiding something.
    When you feel resentment and frustration and avoid dealing with the situations causing them, they often get converted into anxiety about something else. If you are really worrying about something, and have no idea why ask yourself, "What am I really upset about?" and deal with that instead of focusing on your feelings of panic.

  6. Women. I still don't understand them.
    This I know - Women dress stylishly to impress other women, not men. Go figure!


  7. Sometimes life sucks. Just suck it up.
    It'll pass. It helps to remember the last time you felt bad. You'll realize you've been through worse and have come out of it too.

  8. Empathize more, advice less.
    Sometimes we just want to be understood. If you start shooting "logical" advice when the other person wants you to listen, he / she will feel criticized. Even if the other person wants advice, empathic listening will make them more receptive to your ideas. When in doubt, ask.

  9. Think big, start small. Persevere.

  10. Don't argue. Win them through action.
    An argument often offends people - words are interpreted according to a person's mood and beliefs. Actions and demonstrations are much more powerful and meaningful.

  11. Don't see things with your eyes only.
    If you aren't flexible, life will break you. Practice looking at yourself, others and situations from a different perspective. Be willing to broaden your beliefs - understand Islam, read Desmond Tutu, read Gandhi.

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