Sunday, April 27, 2014

Can you continue without a reboot?

My system is freezing

You have been working on your computer for days and suddenly the system freezes. You call IT support and almost 100% of the time, they will ask if you have tried to reboot. If not, you will most certainly hear the infamous words "please reboot and try again and let me know if the problem continues". Whether on a personal computer, satellite receiver or smart phone, there is a point when tech support will say the inevitable, especially if, you had worked long and hard on a computer without auto saving (fortunately you can recover your work sometimes). Why do the all knowing specialists say we must do this first before they get up and attend to the problem? Apparently, a reboot fixes a lot of minor system glitches that have developed and accumulated over time, though it may in some cases reveal deeper problems that have also developed. The problems cause a device to freeze or fail to open certain programs and functions simultaneously slowing performance. A lot of times the reboot trick works because, as soon as the reboot is complete, you get a smile from a frown, relief from stress and progress once more. Switch off and back on, or reboot, and the machine seems to find recover. Rebooting enables the system to check itself, reset and reconfigure before continuing.

Gremlins in the system

In hindsight of my prior inspirational posts such as Being Extraordinary, Can you do more, Journey to greatness and Get up, get over it and get going to name but a few, I thought about the quiet and unproductive but, most imperative and critical times of life. The times when a reboot is required in one form or another. The time when because of all the system processes running in the background, your performance has rather slowed down and your feel frozen and unproductive. The reboot phases of human nature, when everything maybe is not working out as planned, or not making sense and you cannot push anymore or set goals and do more. You have mapped out, planned, implemented and executed but results did not materialise, or they went the opposite way. When disillusionment and dis-orientation kicks in and you feel like everything is passing you by in fast forward mode while you are standing still watching. How do you get a fix on yourself to get back on track and start moving again? Could it be possible that there is a way that we as people switch off and on again (reboot), to get our processors back on track and functioning optimally again? I think there are times when you just need to clear out your mind of everything that has accumulated over time. Take yourself out of your own shot as it were, and take the director's chair and watch and figure out whether the scene is taking shape or not.

The fix

As much as the mind is such a powerful organ and tool, capable of all these complex functions all at once, I believe a reboot is needed every now and then. When one archives and put into perspective the overload of issues, be it successes, failures, hurts, joys, disappointments and celebrations, which could be slowing the system down and making the current shot freeze. That short time of switching off and back on again, is way shorter than the time it would take to try and push on with a clogged system. Do you reboot through a morning mediation process, yoga, annual retreat or vacation, or do you in fact get someone to come and reboot your system like an IT guy would come and try fix that problem, in which case it could be a near crash. Reboot exercises improve your performance and make you feel better and more ready to face each day. It breaks the monotony and pressure of life issues and resets your system. A reboot is better than a total system crash as, many times it means your system is still functioning, but needs to clear up and start again with better memory, goals, and perspective. You need to get things working again, but inevitably, or in fact, good for you, you have to take that 5 or 10 minute break (which could be days, months or a year for some), while the system reconfigures and starts up again. It may seem like a bad thing slowing you down, if you deem yourself as being behind, but it is way better than a total system collapse, when you cannot proceed at all and everything comes to a complete stop, and so it is a yes from me. Rebooting every once in a while before we push on with those endeavours. What are your experiences with the rebooting phases of your life? I hope it was not near death experiences.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Insatiable: Case of the dripping tap


On the last day of high school during morning assembly, the Chaplain spoke about our future. He spoke about how we were done with school, but now starting out in life, with new dreams, aspirations, goals and desires. I did not pay too much attention to the bulk of this sermon, as I was only happy that high school was done and all the pain of study had come to an end, but found something in it captivating. The sermon spoke about how God created us as pursuers who discount what we have accomplished already, looking to the next best thing. I have chosen the word insatiable to define the part of human nature which keeps us hungry for more in life. Words used in the definition of insatiable include, incapable of being satisfied or appeased, thirst, appetite, desire, curiosity, hunger, need or even greed. The Oxford Dictionary tilts the word to especially refer to desire for sex, which I will steer clear of given the context of my objective. Reflecting back on that sermon years ago, I see what the Chaplain meant, as I have grown to see how insatiable I am as a human being.

The Paradox

I have goals that I pursue and some of them are on-going but most are attainable and achievable goals, which are short term in nature, soon goals no more. Once I attain some of these goals, I feel an urge to look for something else to pursue. That hunger, curiosity and thirst always comes up and needs to be fed. While I am pursuing something, sometimes, it feels like pain and hard work, and I only wish I was done with it, but once I am done, I am so used to being consumed and cannot just be doing nothing. I am therefore soon busy looking for more pain and hard work to consume me. What is this thirst within me? Why am I like this all the time throughout my life? The paradox of this is that, I enjoy having new goals and targets to follow at any point in my life. And these are not always big hairy audacious goals, but can be small goals I want to tick off my to do list. I recently spoke to a friend who ran the Comrades Marathon (89km race), and is now going for the Kilimanjaro Marathon (42km race). These are not easy races to run, and if I had personally completed the Comrades, I would gladly place that feather on my cap and take a bow, well that is what I think, but I could be wrong as well. She obviously feels that itch to conquer something else that most of us feel.

Bringing the tap

I am reminded of a dripping water tap, which does not stop releasing small drops of water. It is much like this insatiable part of human nature which drips these urges of desire and hunger, continuously pushing us to do more. There is always another race to run, another mountain to climb or a new feat to achieve. The drops seem small, but the source where the water comes from is massive, hence the tap keeps dripping day and night. Even while you sleep, you awake with a new idea for something new. The source keeps feeding your tap and it drips on. Once I reach a goal, it no longer motivates me, and I seek another motivating goal to pursue. I am always aspiring and looking forward to something that I can achieve. I thrive on that pursuit, to achieve, to overcome and to go further. I suppose I speak for many when I say we are insatiable beings (remember the disclaimer for the Oxford definition). Personally, I have never really stopped studying, despite completing a number of courses this far, I find myself starting on something else, though it sometimes gets tough and I may even develop cognitive dissonance in the process. I have written another blog titled "What is important?", and will hasten to refer back to it as a guiding principle when the tap drips. What are your own experiences and stories related to this? Is your tap dripping that continuous desire and how is it driving you further? How does your quest to tick off "100 things to do before I die" conflict or compliment the opportunity cost of time you could be spending in other ways?

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Teabags, hot water and character

The litmus test
I seem to have fully embraced analogies for some reason as you will have noticed. They are such a part of our daily lives and most of us can relate to the examples. Ok so we all know that when an egg is immersed in hot water, after a while it hardens to become a hard boiled egg. On the flip side, a carrot is already hard but softens when it encounters the same hot water. In either case, the water remains in its original form unchanged, but both the egg and the carrot change. The egg hardens to solid form, while the carrot softens. Both the egg and carrot cannot resist the changes caused by the hot water. Now take a teabag and put it in the same hot water. It doesn't take time to see the teabag effect taking over with the water changing colour and becoming another liquid called tea. After this process is complete, you cannot call it water again because the teabag has done some serious work on encounter and the water is now tea. The tea from the bag permeates the water and changes it completely. and the name water changes to tea. Now this analogy made me think about our own encounters with situations and people. Are we changed by what and who we encounter, or do we change things and impact others around us, creating new possibilities, influencing thoughts, perspectives, identities and visions with hope and totally different desired futures?

The Lesson
The story of the teabag gives me three lessons to share. The first lesson is when you are a strong enough person, you can be a shining example and influence and shape those around you and give them new perspectives and identities into a different future and destiny. Secondly, you cannot change any situation when you are not within it, but you have to immerse yourself in a situation to be of any influence and make decisions that are embraced. Even in business, opinion leaders (who hold referent power) are used to lead change initiatives through the effect they have in an organisation. This is confirmed by the fact that, if you take the same teabag and put it in cold water, it floats and does not change the water. With hot water, what happens is that due to stronger density, the water moves into the teabag and is changed. The police know this fact and they use it through undercover operations where they join forces with the same criminals they are trying to bust. Only when they have gone deep enough can they gain the trust required to crack the secrets and operations that can get the criminals locked up. The fact that it takes heat to change the water to tea brings us to lesson number three, which is that sometimes it is through difficult 'hot' situations that our character is tested. Heat is as uncomfortable as it is, has helped some of us be the people we have turned out to be, with the strength, endurance, determination and vision we have for the future.

The evidence
We need some heat to change our perceptions and release the influence within us for the benefit of others. Without hot situations, we are just floating around not impacting anyone and oblivious to what is inside us, which can change others around us when the correct temperature is turned on. With every encounter, I believe someone or something is changed for good or for bad. If one operates as a teabag, they are a frame of reference which impacts everyone they meet. They are not necessarily changed by situations and circumstances but they change things around them. I have heard of stories of ex-convicts turned philanthropists or drug addicts turned musicians. Most times if you trace these stories, you will find a teabag effect somewhere in their lives. Someone or something (hot) did some work and shaped their destiny for good. Now in life we have some real hot situations we encounter, and those are the ones that bring out character in us. So yes I want to be a teabag and be able to change things around me. As an ending note, Eleanor Roosevelt said 'A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water'. And all the ladies said.....Amen!

Image here

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Where is your speedometer?

I am not much of a petrol head but I do have an affinity for cars and often when people talk of engine capacity I hear them talk about a 2 litre or 3 litre engine. What they are talking about is cubic centimeters (often mentioned as CC) which define the volume of the area where pistons operate within an engine. Thus a 2000cc vehicle is a 2 litre engine and this determines power and speed. In the United States on average vehicles are 2500cc. A Bugatti Veyron has a 7993cc engine capacity Now that is awesome power, because engine size is proportional to power generation that comes out of the engine. Without being too technical and maybe lose interest from some of the not so auto-technically inclined readers, a car can operationally have such massive capacity but it cannot be driven for a grocery store trip at that maximum speed, well it can but there are various restrictions that make it not feasible. So basically most cars on the streets have excess unrealised capacity because the makers have made them to do more than is practically, legally and economically possible and safe. Now think about yourself for a moment. How much capacity would you think you have in you? Would you place yourself at 800cc,2000cc or maybe 7993cc (just have a car in mind now). In other words, are you a small car, like a Chevy Spark Lite at 995cc and 96mph top speed type car or a Bugatti Veyron at 7993cc and 267mph top speed? Where is the speedometer of your life currently as you read this? Are you at 0 mph, somewhere in between maybe 70 mph, or somewhere over 100 mph? I was just thinking about how we have an in-built capacity just like a vehicle, but we do not always push ourselves to do what we can achieve. A quote by Napoleon Hill says 'Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve'. This is because there is always unused capacity inside us of which, we ourselves may not even be aware. Some of us are 8 litre engines doing 20 mph on the freeway and you know what reaction you get from other drivers. The opposite is true for those who push themselves beyond limits of capacity. The issue is not about being a sports car or not, but about whether you are maximizing the capacity you possess. Contrary to the popular myth about brain use, humans in fact are capable of using 100% of their brain, although not all faculties are always engaged at levels they can perform optimally. At any point in time at least 45% of the brain is active, however not everyone maximises on their mind. Would it not be sad to waste such untapped capacity within us? And for us capacity is so vast, it is not necessarily related to speed, although it can be if you are an athlete. There is so much more that our capacity represents. Creativity, business acumen, philanthropy, exploration, science, sport and all sorts of innovations. However, we have so many forms of restrictions that pull us back and get our feet off the pedal and on brakes most of the time. Brakes are good for introspection, but why not start pushing your speedometer up a bit and see where you can get to in a short space of time. Enjoy your ride this week as you push yourself on the "life drive" and please have your seat belt on.