Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Three reflections from David Heinemeier's recent interview

I went through this interview article with David Heinemeier yesterday with much interest and anticipation. Before i get to the reason around my interest, here's an answer to 'Who is David Heinemeier?', just in case you didn't know:

David Heinemeier Hansson is the co-founder of Basecamp and NYT bestselling coauthor of Rework and Remote. He’s also the creator of the software toolkit Ruby on Rails, which has been used to launch and power Twitter, Shopify, GitHub, Airbnb, Square, and over a million other web applications.

Reflection #1:

What caught my attention in this article was the below paragraph, which I also tweeted about:

'I’ve realized that the hard part about most books is not reading them but recalling their knowledge or insight when you need it the most.'
This is very succinctly put up sentence. When I took up reading big time almost a decade back, I

was driven by this quote from Prakash Iyer's article:

"If you read for just half an hour everyday, you could finish a 250 page book in just two weeks' time. That's twenty six books a year. A hundred books in next four years. Just think, what difference would that make to the quality of your mind, your career, your life ? Just thirty minutes a day can do the trick, so stop giving excuses about not having the time to read."
I almost found unparalleled joy is reading as much as possible. During productive years, i might have read close to 70-75 books (a year).

The reading habit helped me in groove and helped me utilize my time well, gain unique perspectives that i leveraged in my work time, personal time, in my writings. But I have to also admit that i sometimes felt overwhelmed with continuous reading. This feeling stemmed from the fact that i had filled most of my white-spaces with reading. I had a book with me all the time so even while waiting in queues, in flight, while driving (audio books)- i was trying to extract something from the books. Gaining knowledge helped but not leaving some white-spaces free didn't.

In my quest to find solutions, i found this piece from Tanmay Vora quite relevant. In this post, Tanmay argues that unidimensionally consuming content without focusing on creating stuff, creates an imbalance in learning. One got to focus on applying what's learned than merely applying all the energies on learning just for the sake of learning.

That shifted paradigm a bit for me and helped me focus not just on reading but with the intention of applying the thoughts through the mediums such as applying in work situations (which was happening earlier too, but sub consciously), writing about it, teaching to someone etc.

That's why when i saw David's quote, it made me reinforce that:
"Unless learning is retrievable at this time you need it, it's not of much use."

Reflection #2:

David also said during the interview:
"You can get really good at most things, even if you start “late”, if you know how to learn."

This resonated well with me as i consider myself being a sort of a late starter in some sense. I started running quite late in age and ran my first full marathon (FM) at an age when people are so content with their body type and routines and eventually ended up doing 17 FMs till date. I started sketch noting just last year and managed to get good reviews of my sketchnotes. I tend to pick up a new hobby every year and have ventured into doing magic, handwriting analysis to name a few things.

I do believe that age has hardly anything to do with your creative pursuits. On the contrary, i feel its our obligation to learn more, learn new stuff as we age, just for our own sake.

Reflection #3

In responding to the question- What is your proudest achievement?, David responded:
Being able to live an authentic life where I feel neither too good or too intimidated to share my raw impressions of the world or the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I feel like I’ve found this magical sweet spot where on the one hand I’m insulated from worries about what a boss might say (or fire me for saying), and on the other hand living in enough obscurity that I don’t have to worry much about what others might think.
I don't think i have achieved
equanimity to the extent David has but i do fully resonate with what he
says here and try to follow here.

One of my idols, the cricketer Rahul Dravid is supposed to have said this while describing Virat Kohli, current India cricket captain:

"While Dravid admitted to cringing at some "outrageous" things Kohli says on occasions, he also defended him by saying that so long as he was true to himself, and it helped get the best out of him it shouldn't matter. I think the game is still about performance. So let's not take that way from someone like Kohli," Dravid said at the Bangalore Literature Festival on Sunday. "That's his personality. People have asked me, 'Why didn't you behave like that?' But that's not what got the best out of me. I would have been inauthentic to myself if I had tried to put tattoos and behave like Virat."

Dravid rightly argues that authentic to self is very, very important. This is especially true in today's world where we try to 'fit-in' other's expectations while grossly compromising who we are.

Rahul Dravid's Image Source:

#learning #unlearning #retrieving #authenticity #agenobar

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