The year gone by – 2019

The year gone by – 2019

This post is meant to collect the gems from the yesteryear, and keep them safe here for reminiscing, before we pack things off and resume our practice of living in the present 🙂

The gifts of the year bygone

  • I realized what it means to be social, to communicate, to connect deeply with other beings than ever before, and to be inter-dependent.
  • I got out of my petty insecurities for the first time ever. In a large part, I think it is due to the achievements that Aha3D made, but it also feels like it won’t relapse. A lot of faith has come in.
  • Due to the lack of insecurity, I’m now able to think in terms of giving back and doing for everyone else.
  • I learnt how to trust, and hand over responsibilities. I also learnt how to do everything in my power to help the responsible person(s) succeed, and hence create larger successes.

How things unfolded

2019 has been unconventionally eventful, to be sure!

The first steps

On the outset, they called me over to Mumbai and handed me over the presidential responsibility of IAMF. The organization is a tiny effort as such, but I was shocked at the fact that a body of people who didn’t know me directly thought I might be of use in a leadership role.

I didn’t see me as a leader, and was clueless how to move things. In my office, I thought, I am effective because I’m responsible for the salaries of the staff, but here? Why will someone listen to me if there are no strings to pull? To top it off, the first cautious attempt I gave to organize a meetup fell flat on the face. Then too, I didn’t turn out great in convincing people to act on what I thought was needed. And that was the end of it. Well, for the time being.

Soon, the Megaprinter project came along, and I got blissfully ignorant about everything else in the world.

However, all the skill that I had in those months was slogging. So slog I did, but one fine moment, the stark reality struck. The company is far too big for me to ever think I can do everything myself. I’m headed for sure-shot failure if I didn’t evolve.

I cannot create exponential value by working exponentially hard.

Aakash

Only when I hit the brick wall did the next orbit shift came in. The next question that came up within myself was, “what is it so special in what I’m doing that somebody else cannot do”.

With this question, the magic started happening. The answer was, “Nothing“. There is nothing that I was doing which cannot be done by someone else. Infact, as it turned out later, my staff members were craving for an opportunity to work, and I was not letting them! The next steps naturally started coming in. I immediately started transferring the knowledge, giving responsibilities and started working on the bigger picture, instead of doing the execution.

I know it is cliche. Every seasoned person had tried to teach me this. But This knowledge was my own. Own knowledge is what gives enlightenment. And as I was rolling along, I kept getting the “aha!” moments, I kept realizing what and why those management guys were trying to teach all this while, but the dots connected backward.

Along with this came the next realization, which has become a litmus test for myself ever since.

I must do only what I am uniquely needed for.

Aakash

For everything else, I must find that someone who’s seeking the learning, the benefits, or both, from the task in hand, and who’d gladly accept the responsibility, and I must do the role of empowering, training, and enabling the person. Now, I subject every work to this check. Am I really, uniquely needed to do this work? If the answer is yes, I have all the positivity and conviction to do the work in the highest quality and utmost seriousness, irrespective of what it is. If the answer is no, I find the right person who should do the work, and start enabling the activity.

Another benefit this outlook is giving is, earlier I used to critically judge the person all the time. I would always compare their way of working to mine, and keep criticizing them all the way, which would inadvertently sap them of their creative energy, sow seeds of doubt and hurt their self-esteem.

Now, I don’t even bother how they are handling it. I just know what needs to be done, and by when. And once I hand over the responsibility to the person, I just make sure they are able to do the work. That they don’t fall short of resources; they get time, budget, people, and knowledge to do the work. And of-course, I need to do periodic and critical review of their output. I also let the doer know that I have their back, waiting for their call, but I won’t be following them up (because I have other work to do, and because I actually trust them, because I trust my judgement of their suitability).

If, in case, they call for help, I find that I have all the positive energy and no cynicism, because I know that the work needs to be done and why. And because it passes the original litmus test – I must do what I’m uniquely needed for. Only this time, I ensure that the other person learns along the way. Win win win.

This is also the reason I’m writing this post. I’m uniquely needed to write it down. In-fact, this is probably one of the few important things I can do with my time. Meditation is another thing that I’m uniquely needed for.

Another pleasant by-product of this connecting the right people business is, we reach the “what next” stage faster. That is, when we reach the end of our self-perceived capabilities and unique ideas of value. We may keep the value, share it, or totally let it go, but we need to reach that internal stage to grow.

The soul grows when it hits the “what next?” stage.

Aakash

I almost want to say that it “ONLY” grows when it hits the what next stage. In my case, i definitely grow only when I hit a brick wall. There seem to be people who make fundamental leaps in happy-go-lucky mode. I’m not very sure so I’ll go with that relatively general statement.

Over the last year’s journey, a few more realizations have happened –

Value is what matters. Labels are what does not.

Aakash

Because when you get stuck up with labels, you can’t find your “what next” stage. You end up getting distracted by wrappers, and working alone. And finding the blue litmus condition gets harder.

When we focus on creating value, we can quickly realize if the direction is correct. Quite simply, if what we’re doing has value, people quickly team up and get the work done. Here again, if we’re too hung up on labels (i.e. who does what, and under what name, and who takes the credit and such), teaming up doesn’t happen and the actual work doesn’t get done at all. And the whole exercise becomes an ego roller-coaster crucible.

The bliss of working, self-confidence and energy to do more comes from completed tasks. There are an infinite number of opportunities to work. In reality, work is abundant, and people who work are scarce. Getting stuck at labels or people level simply creates a hard wall on how high we can grow. We could have achieved bigger successes, but now we just sit trapped inside our own mental cages.

The making of the megaprinter

As another gift from 2019, The Megaprinter got made. And a really good one at that. Again, Amit trusted me out of the blue, and we didn’t slip too much on time either. The reason, as I understand, is the way of working noted above.

Turning forty

I used to always dread this mark. I was hoping not having to face this day since I was maybe 25. It seemed like it will be the end of my energetic, or ambitious life, and I’ll sit and look at the wall while I waited to die forever after turning forty.

Turns out, it didn’t go that way.

Well, it is death, in a way, but of the immature self. I’m surprisingly aware of the limited time, and the awareness of what I do stuff with. It is making life very interesting. And the fact that I don’t worry about my own ambitions and feeling a pressure to succeed all the time is actually very enjoyable.

The making of the Ganesha statue

We made a Ganesha statue, as the first 3D print from the Megaprinter. And also made history while we were at it.

I was also able to deliver on some of the IAMF responsibilities this way. It happened in the last two months of the year, but here too, the dots connected backwards. Turned out nobody listens to you because you’ve employed them. If people listen to you, it’s because they connect. Infact, its not even you. Its the spirit and the content of the activity you are trying to pull together. People connect over shared goals. And a clear, no- nonsense, trust-inspiring answer to “what’s in it for me”, coming from the person leading the activity. This person is duty bound to care for the team.

Some closing notes on money and other things

Some more closing messages to the subconscious –

If what you’re doing is needed, the money and other resources to do it come naturally. If what you’re doing is not needed, why are you doing it anyway?

If there is nobody waiting for you to deliver your work like crazy, you might be working on invented problems. You’re inventing problems because you’re afraid of the real problems. Maybe because you doubt your own ability to solve them. Maybe you’re living in a shell. You’re afraid to get wet. Maybe you’re afraid to fail.

Or maybe you have a rigid definition of “work”. And you’re subconsciously rejecting actual work, because it doesn’t look like the opinion that you carry. I’m just suggesting. I wasted a lot of time this way that’s why.

Practice to detect what it is that you dread. Once you find it, run INTO it, and fix it first thing. Eat that frog. Or else it will waste your life. You’ll cause colossal damage, and you’ll have to eat the frog anyway before you can move on.

One final note – stop worrying about your own growth. Instead, worry about the growth of the people who trust you, or want to trust you. And nature has a way to care for you better than you can ever care for yourself.

Welcome, 2020!

– Aakash

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