22 life lessons from 2022

A list of 22 life lessons that I learned in 2022. In 2023, I hope to leverage some of these to ensure that I do better.

So my fetish for making lists does not seem to be stopping. Here is another. And this time, I have 22 life lessons that 2022 has taught me.

In no order, let’s go and dive into the list of life lessons…

1/ The world does NOT owe you anything. While you need to keep the faith and keep trying, you need to know that you will HAVE to work hard.

2/ The world is a mere reflection of your true self. Depending on how you are, the world is an incredibly kind place. Or an unkind place. If you are kind, the world will be kind. If you are unkind, the world will be that. If you feel that the world doesn’t care for you, and leaves you lonely and miserable, in all probability it is you who’s not caring for others, who’s leaving others lonely.

3/ People are lazy. People typically will revert to mean to their general level of laziness. You know, entropy.

4/ People are incredible. While there are lazy people, some are incredibly good! And your job is to identify those people.

5/ Ethos is everything. This year I picked up a project that paid me ok but made me work closely with people that had very different ethos from mine. If I were a mere contractor delivering things to them against a predecided structure, I would have done well. But I was expected to do more and I failed. So, when working on long-term, fluid projects, always check for alignment of ethos.

6/ Sunk Cost Fallacy is a real thing. I am still unable to come to terms with this. I need to work on this #in2023.

7/ Show people the vastness of the sea. If you manage a team, the whole drumming up and showing them the vastness of the sea works wonders. The team at C4E is a testimony.

8/ Start writing. For writing opens doors that you did not even know existed. Thanks to my writing, I could meet two dollar-billionaires this year (one IRL and one online). And another that manages a fund of more than a billion.

9/ Youth will surprise you. Even though am a big believer in “if youth knew and if age could”, my interactions with numerous 20-something-year-olds have left me spellbound. Each has surprised me beyond belief and I know the world is in better hands.

The old ones that dismiss these young ones as frivolous, inexperienced, unaware, are in for a rude shock. Even Steve famously said

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. Yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is as it should be because death is very likely the single best invention of life.

It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. 

Steve Jobs, link

10/ There are wartime people and peacetime people. You need to understand who is who and surround yourself with the right ones. This is inspired by Ben Horowitz‘s Wartime CEO and Peacetime CEO riff. Read it here. See it here.

Also, this life lesson is probably the most important as it will allow you to not choose the wrong shoulder to lean on when you need to lean. I made the mistake of considering a good friend as a wartime one but then he was clearly a peacetime one and because I relied on him, it caused me a lot of pain.

11/ Your heroes WILL fall. So rather than blind adulation of your heroes (aka Hero worship), learn the art of abstracting the Heros from their heroics. What you find enthralling in a Hero could merely be the act.

12/ The life of constant hustle is NOT for everyone. If you are someone that believes that you are not “feeling” it while you grind away, it’s okay to go back to a 9-to-5 and enjoy a stable salary.

On the other hand, I need to not judge people for the lack of it.

13/ The ability to design has to be the SINGLE most important skill that a person can acquire in this day and age. This may sound counter-intuitive when there are apparent high-value skills like coding, writing (copywriting), coaching, speaking, sales, presenting et al.

Thing is, the world we live in will increasingly become more and more “visual”. Text will become commonplace and tools like chatGPT would make it easier. No code will make it easy to do pilots. Sales team would be easy to hire in remote locations. But the ability to doodle well enough to communicate an idea would remain in short supply. And it will become the single largest differentiating factor.

I wish I was not 40. If I wasn’t, I would drop everything and learn how to do basic design. And no, what you do on Canva is NOT design.

14/ The iPhone 14 Pro’s screen is NOT unscratchable. Sigh!

15/ Remote work is a farce. Nothing replaces a handshake. Or a pat on the back.

In fact, you need to live at the very epicentre of activity for the profession of your choosing.

You may argue that there are people that have found freedom of location and are travelling. They are exceptions, edge cases. And most of us aren’t that. So, to maximise the odds of success, satisfaction, life expectancy, opportunities and all that, we need to live at the epicentre. If you want to do a startup, be in Bangalore. If you want to make films, Mumbai. A chef? Paris. Dont have the money to make the move? Hustle!

16/ Live music is the best form of music.

17/ Ready, Fire, Aim is the best DAMN strategy to get things done. Most great things that happened to me in 2022 happened as an outcome of this. In fact, if there was one life lesson that I would want you to take away from this list, it would be this.

Lemme repeat.

Ready. Fire. Aim.

18/ Mimetic Theory is a great place to start if you want to understand people. Even though a lot hasn’t been said about it outside the startup circles, it is probably the single most important thing you can learn if you want to understand what moves the world.

While mimesis has been discussed a lot in philosophy, from whatever little I’ve read, I like what Girard has to say about it. I may be merely recommending him because he reaffirms my worldview. Nonetheless, this is a brilliant video if you want a primer.

19/ Your body can be trained to do whatever you want to. This year I was able to do a 40+ hour fast without putting in any specific training / preparation. I want to be able to do a 12-day fast at some point in time in my life. Let’s see when.

20/ People that are not in your boat will never be able to empathise with you. You are the only man in the arena and you are there by yourself. So when you share things with others, even if they are your best friends, they will not be able to relate to the pain you are going thru.

In 2022, I’ve learnt that a good way to get over the disappointment of your close one’s inability to get your grief is to journal. In private.

21/ Action speaks louder than words. Nothing new in this. Found this truer in 2022. With friends, clients, team, strangers and everyone else.

22/ This too shall pass. Each of my list starts and ends with this. Good times dont last. Bad times dont last.

And this brings me to the end of the list. Of 22 life lessons that 2022 taught me. Of course, I learnt these the hard way. The intent of capturing these here is to save you the pain and the grief. How benevolent, Mr Garg!

What are some lessons you learnt in 2022 that you’d like to share widely?

PS: Like I said in the beginning, I love making lists. Other lists that I have published here are…

  1. Guide to freelancing career in 2023
  2. 40 things I want to do in my 40s
  3. In 2027

PPS: Here’s a few disclaimers…

  1. These come from the personal experiences that I gathered over the last year.
  2. Some of these may have been with me for a while but they sort of solidified over the last year.
  3. I have obfuscated some facts and events for obvious reasons.

250321 – Morning Pages

A quick post about ambitions, expectations, hurt, bitterness and COVID.

6:46 AM. I woke up a minute ago. Made my bed. Opened the window to the world outside and put on some music. I felt like listening to this one. And here I am typing this morning meditation.

Yeah, the morning pages need to be rechristened as morning meditations. That’s what these are. Thoughts from things that are clouding my head. For example, I slept last night thinking about how humbling the entire idea of life is. About how success is the only way you get to make great friends. About how the action (and not perfection) is what makes the world go round.

Something happened and I was fucked in the head last night. To a point, I thought I would quit things that trigger it. You know, social media. More than that, expectation from people. But then I don’t know if it was Louise Hay or Morgan Housel or Seneca or even Prof. SG that told me that all misery is in expectation. And once you stop expecting things, you are sort of free. So that happened.

The other thing that caught my eye is this tweet from PG. He postulates that people like me are “bitter and highly effective at realizing that bitterness.”

From Paul Graham. See this.

Now, I know that I am smart.
I also know that I am ambitious.
And I have yet to achieve anything, leave alone “very much”. If PG says such people are bitter, they ought to be. However, in my case, I am anything but bitter. Rather, this non-achievement makes me do more. Push more. Open more doors. May be, secretly I am. Maybe this bitterness is that part of my life that I don’t know that exists. You know, the ‘unknown self’ of Johari Window. So I need to think about it.

The other thing I am worried about is rising COVID cases in Mumbai. Now we officially have more cases than we ever had. More than when the pandemic was at its peak and we were banging bartans and lighting candles and chanting mantras and all that. Yesterday we had more than 5000 cases in Mumbai alone (out of 40000 odd that were tested). When you look at the number, it looks small, considering we have almost 2 crore people in the city. But when you juxtapose (I love this word) on people like me that are super-social (even if I am pseudosocial) that meet thousands of people, the risk gets real.

So that.

I think this is about it. There are more things that I’ve written on my echoChamber about the thing that I was fucked in the head about. Someday all of it will go in my biography. If I ever become someone whose story is worth telling the next generations. Lol. Everyone wants to be immortal.

Anyhow, that’s it for the short post. At some point in time I need to get back to writing till my heart’s full. May be when I actually start waking up at 5. Or when they start a Starbucks that opens at 5. Morning is the best damn time ever.

And here’s the streaks…

  • Morning Pages – 104
  • #aPicADay – 84
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0 (ate 4 full meals – damn stress eating).
  • #noCoffee – 15
  • #noCoke – 15
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0. I still haven’t been able to wake up at 5.

Day 6 – I don’t know what to write about…

A journal of sorts of how I spent my day on the 4th of Nov 2020.

But I will.

After all, I am on this trip where I am hoping to write every day for 30 days for 30 minutes. Today’s the 6th day. On the trot. Yay!

As the entire world awaits the outcome of the US elections with bated breath, here I am, in a corner of Mumbai, thinking about what to write about. While I do have a million things on my mind and I could write about those, there’s no one thing that’s popping in my head as a clear leader.

So, in absence of anything specific to write about, I will just do a recap of sorts for the day.

9 AM

I started my day with a meeting that got canceled. I was up all night, last night preparing for this meeting!

The spare time I had, I used that to speak to one of the people I talked about in yesterday’s post. I sort of “coached” him on productivity and gave him simple tips about how to do things better. The biggest tip I gave him was Paul Graham’s Maker Day and Manager Day. In case you don’t know about it, go read it. It’s worth its weight in gold!

10 AM

The other big thing that happened today is that a friend connected me with one of his friends and wants me to give gyaan on effective notes. Notes is another thing that happened to me just because I wrote a post about it. The post went to a lot of people and some of those implored me to “teach” them the methods. And when I did talk to them about the methods, they seemed to enjoy it!

So, a clear case of how the work you do in public has unintended consequences! The lesson for you? Do more public work!

1 PM

Next, I met a friend for a coffee (and I had green tea) and he gave me dope about, well, me!

He told me things about me that I could not see and yet everyone around me could! You know, things that you don’t know that you don’t know?

If I talk from the lens of Johari Window, he showed me my Blind Area.

It was quite a revelation. He actually pointed out things that I was clearly unaware of. And these things are deterrents, to say the least. And I need to clearly work on those. I also need to clearly work on not using the same word in three consecutive sentences.

10 PM

Lastly, I just finished a meeting with my writing group. We met via Twitter and we try to help each other with writing.

In fact, this series of posts is actually an outcome of an idea that someone threw at me in the group. No, my notes don’t have that person’s name. Good that I don’t. The kind of writing that am creating, I am so embarrassed!

1137 PM

So yeah, I think this is it for the day.

Again, this is not one of the best posts I’ve written. But I wanted to get the words out of my system. And I wanted to write for 30 minutes. I think with this summary, I’ve done both. And that means, its an over and out from me.

Take care!

This is part of the ’30 posts in 30 days’ project. This was Day 6. Other posts are at 3010311001110211, 0311

May you live in interesting times!

A rant on how “interesting” the 5th day of ’30 minutes of writing for 30 days’ project was. Read at peril.

This is the 5th day of this new project where I try and write every day for 30 minutes. As I start writing this, it is 11:17 PM (ended at 11:54 – well over 30) and I don’t have a lot of time (have some work) and thus I may not get 30 minutes under the belt. Plus, what I have to say is anyway not going to take much. So let’s see.

Today was an “interesting” day. For a lot of reasons. Lemme see if I can describe the reasons for interestingness in an interesting manner so as to do justice to the grandeur of this day.

A. The Helping Hand

For starters, three different people asked me to help them today.

One wanted help on writing, second on managing time, and third on reaching his life purpose. I know these three people from three different circles (one from MDI, second from Twitter, and third from work). Each lives in a different city.

And yet each of these people thought that I could help them with their respective predicaments.

While I am not sure I can help them, but I am glad to know that people have started to recognize me as someone they could reach out to when they need help. This is definitely a step in the direction of my #lifeGoal! So, yay!

B. The Good and The Bad and The Resolve

I have recently picked a few gigs where I am giving away fixed hours in exchange for money (counter-intuitive to every advice that I have ever held dear about how to get rich). And even though its not even been a month, I can clearly see why its a bad idea. And why its a good idea. Lemme elaborate.

Bad

I believe life is far larger and far meaningful than wasting time by doing things that don’t matter (to you!). Such as, wasting an entire day at an office, only to pick a laptop! And spending your night, working on a presentation that did not require any urgency per se.

Good

I had to pick these gigs cos the work that gave me the money to live a fairly good life? That has dried up (thank you, COVID. And thank you, SG for some really stupid decisions). And if I did not have these “stable” businesses wanting to hire explorers like me, we’d die hungry.

And I also appreciate that there may be people that like the idea of “stable” work that sucks their soul, in exchange for money that allows them to experience grand things in life on the weekends. Even though it is not for me, it’s not a bad tradeoff if you ask me.

So yeah, bad and good.

The resolve?

Well, I promise that I will get back to a point where I work for anyone but myself. The way things are, I don’t think that will happen before a year and each day in the year would be, well, interesting. I’d ideally love to run away from it as fast as a rat runs away from a ship that has hit an iceberg!

But I promise to myself that I would stay for at least a year (if not more). And I will use each “interesting” day to make my resolve stronger. And my hustler, harder. All in hopes that I don’t ever have to see these interesting times again.

C. The Notches

I wore denims and a formal shirt and sports shoes. My typical work attire. Or any formal occasion attire for that matter. And while I did that, I also wore a belt and I realised that I have put on so much weight that I need to add a notch on the belt.

While I should be gunning for removing notches from the belt, here I am, growing (quite literally) in the other direction. When this lockdown thingy started, I had resolved (where did I hear this word recently?) to lose weight, learn guitar, finish #book2 and I dont know what else. Of all the goals, I was fairly confident of losing weight. After all, I am not a foodie. Wait, lemme munch onto this Egg Roll that I just ordered. So, yeah, I am not a foodie and I could have lost weight but I put on weight! And I need to do something about it.

That’s it. That’s the third part. Nothing more. Nothing less. A reminder to self that I need to lose weight.

***

So yeah. This is for the post of the day. A ranty one. But at least I shipped. After all, real artists ship! Even on interesting days.

PS: If someone wishes you that “may you live in interesting times“, you now know what to do. Don’t you?

This is part of the ’30 posts in 30 days’ project. This was Day 5. Other posts are at 301031100111, 0211