Wednesday 22 November 2017

Keep It Simple - The Best Advice I Ever Received

Not often do we realise the value of advice given to us, at the time that advice is given to us. In my experience, self-confidence (in this context - over confidence) is the usual culprit. Add to self-confidence, other reasons contributing to our disregarding advice range from the lack of respect we have for the person giving advice (if I don't respect the person, I am less likely to take his / her advice) to obviousness & simplicity of the advice given that leads us to miss its deep meaning or its long-term implications. However, there are times when we are reminded of an advice that was given to us in past and holds good in our present scenario - just wish we had paid attention to that advice when it was given to us.

One such advice, which I didn't take seriously, came from a colleague at the start of my career. I was simply told to keep things simple!

As an early 20-something, in my first job, with all the euphoric feeling of independence and responsibility (as much as junior-most guy in any team can enjoy), I wasn't matured enough to think how such a simple advice could be valuable - I didn't value simplicity because I was gunning to do more, have chaos around me and have my fingers in as many pies as possible. It didn't take many years for me to realise just how important this simple-sounding advice was.

As I climbed the corporate ladder, and personal responsibilities increased as well (i.e., got married) I was reminded of these very sound words - keep things simple!

I found myself surrounded by the chaos that I once worked hard to get around me. The pressure of responsibilities seemed to be crushing my spirit, which only led me to worsen my performance...and so began a vicious cycle of chaos, pressure and poor performance.

Post-realisation of value of these words, I didn't know what I could or should do immediately to make things simple. Although I knew that I had to do something, I knew in my gut that moving away from chaos, and towards simplicity will help me immensely. This started a journey, showed me a path that I walk on even today - not only in my professional life, but also my personal life.

With some amount of pain and a lot of time spent on introspection - I realised two areas that caused me most difficulty: a) the illusion of control, and b) attachment. The former broke my heart, and confidence every time there was a fuck-up, and the latter forced me to live in the past, rather than be fluid & moving ahead.

Such a realisation is neither simple to act upon, nor easy to verbalise. It took a lot of effort, some rather big fuck-ups, and luck to find the path of simplicity. Essentially, I gave up the illusion of controlling every aspect of my life - rather focussed on controlling my reactions & emotions (as much as possible given the situation). Also, I started to understand what attachment meant to me - where it was required, and where I could completely let it go.

Keeping things simple has freed up my time for things that really matter, has provided a compass for decisions and directions I want to take, and has renewed my confidence. There is a lot, still, that I need to improve on to further simplify in my life, but I am glad that I have found a path and am walking on it. I am constantly reminded of the learnings I have had since I started on this journey - I still falter, but an internal kick comes to stop me from wandering off-course for long. 

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