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Climbing a mountain

18 Dec

I am writing this post on an overnight bus from Rishikeshh to Delhi, getting back to the metropole after incredible four days in the Himalayas. We tracked up to the Indra Hara Pass, approximately 4,300 meters above the sea level, and back to Mcleod Ganj in three days, spending two nights on the mountain. It was tough. But how tough was it? That depends on one’s point of reference.

In September this year, I summited the Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. 5860 meters in altitude, five days of trekking, sleeping in tents with temperatures dropping to -15C at night and no shower during the whole time. From about 4500 meters I got some kind of mountain sickness combined with diarrhoea which meant I could not eat anything. My muscles were really tired but my mind was still sharp and it dragged the body all the way to the top. Compared to this experience, getting to the Indra Hara Pass was a piece of cake.

We can extend this concept to anything we do. Working 60 hours a week? Feasible compared to 80 hours. Having to find your way around New Delhi? Easy compared to being alone in say, Nairobi.

It is good to have extreme experiences sometimes because they just make everything else seem manageable to us afterwards.

Getting to the pot of gold

10 Jan

>Who of you would like a pot of gold? Or your dream job, a good degree, a trip around the world or just anything else that you really want to achieve? Well the story has it that a pot of gold is usually at the end of a rainbow. Me and my fried, JC from AIESEC LSE, once came up with a framework to set and achieve your goals that we called the Rainbow. I was speaking about this concept at one conference some time ago and I would like to share it with you today.

When we decide to do something, we usually think only about the end result. A good job, a party or any other idea we might have. But how many times do we really make it happen? Way too often, it is just something we talk about, but we do not act on it. Why? Because it is too intangible, too distant, our brain simply stops working at the thought of it and we give up. Sounds familiar? At least that is what I have seen with myself and with many other people that I have worked with.

From my experience, it is not possible to get to the pot of gold with just one giant step. Yet people are often searching for that one step, that one action that will make things happen and that will get them where they want to be. When they do not find that one step, they give up. They forget that in order to get to a pot of gold, one needs to walk on a rainbow.

How does one walk on a rainbow?

There are three key rules:
1. Take only very small steps.
2. At the beginning it is uphill and therefore very difficult.
3. By the end it is downhill and therefore slippery, one can easily fall.

1. Take only very small steps

Break the task into a series of very small actions. Make them as simple as possible. The most important thing it to get walking, to take the first step. Do something easy today, that will set you on the track. And then take one small step every day towards your pot of gold. It can be as simple as calling a friend for advice, reading an article on the topic or writing down your thoughts. It does not matter that much what it is as long as you take one small step every day.

2. At the beginning, it is uphill and therefore very difficult.

It will not be easy at the beginning. The goal will seem to be too far away, too unrealistic and it will also be difficult to actually figure out how to get there. But that should not put you off. Just keep walking, one little step at a time.

3. By the end it is downhill and therefore slippery, one can easily fall.

And then you finally figure out how to do it. You get to the middle of the rainbow, you get halfway there and the pot of gold seems to be closer than ever. But be careful at this point. Lot of people think they are almost there, they start running towards they end goal (read they get comfortable about achieving it) but because the rainbow is now downhill and slippery, they fall. They underestimate the situation, they stop focusing, they get off the track. It is therefore important to keep taking those little steps every day, one at a time, until you reach your pot of gold. Only when you are holding it safely in your hands, you can have rest. Unless you spot a new pot of gold in the meantime obviously.

Next time I will write a post about what I have recently read in a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen and what nicely ties with this concept.

What’s your tribe?

7 May

>Or rather, what are your tribes? Because we are all members of several tribes, may be we just do not think about it in that way.

I came in touch on several occasion with the concept of ‘tribes’, got to like it a lot and therefore I would like to write a bit about it today. As far as I know the term was first coined by Seth Godin in his book Tribe (you can google him, he is a really famous blogger) or by David Logan – see the video bellow.

A tribe is a social group with certain attitudes, opinions and more or less well defines membership criteria. We are all members of at least couple tribes. A tribe can be our close friends, our colleagues, a sports team or an NGO we are part of. Our tribes and the people in them define us, shape us and in my opinion they to a large extend predict where we will be going in the future.

How do they influence us? Each tribe has certain attitudes and mindsets that shape thinking of its tribal members. And I think that the right mindset is the most powerful asset one can have. It defines our personality, our ambitions and the impact we want to have.

David Logan distinguished five main types (stages) of tribes according to the attitudes of their membership.

1. “Life Sucks”
2. “My Life Sucks”
3. “I’m Great (But You Aren’t)”
4. “We’re Great”
5. “Life is Great”

Have a look at this video:

I thought couple questions would help to debrief on the video. Here they are:

1. What tribes am I part of?

2. How are my tribes influencing me? What kind of attitudes am I getting, what am I learning, what is the impact they are allowing me to have?

3. What is my impact on my tribes? How am I contributing to them, how am I adding value to my tribes / would they be any different without me?

4. What tribes do I want to be part of? Where do I want to go and what tribes will help me get there?