About Habits

Taking a leaf out of a great book I recently read The One Thing I have started looking at creating habits.

The idea is that most of the things we do are automatic. This is because frontal processing of data takes too much time and energy, so the body puts up a lot of resistance to such activity. Many of these automatic things we do were once manual. In the sense we needed to push ourselves in some way to do it. In time, the body (and mind) figures out that its going to have to do these very frequently so they get pushed into another part of the brain. This part of the brain deals with habit. Its a bit like moving software switching to hardware switching in the router world. This part of the brain requires less “will-power” to work because it doesn’t need conscious intervention.

On average it takes about 66.5 days of doing an activity for it to become habitual. This is on average, so depending on a number of factors, this time could be anywhere between 12 – 160 odd days.

Choosing the right habit to cultivate requires you to visualize the future you want to create, and walk backwards looking at what habits took you there. In the beginning of-course, start small.

It takes “will power” to create habits. Will power is something we all have in a fixed supply. If you use it up, your ability to avoid temptation reduces. If you use too much up, it could lead to burn out. So the idea is, use your will power to create habits, then whatever is left to do everyday activities. The best advice seems to be to use mornings to cultivate habits, so that you have enough will power. One good way to replenish will power, apart from sleep, is to pamper yourself. For example, you are creating the habit of going to the gym, then have that ice-cream you want to compensate the will power used in the gym. In time Gym will become a habit and you wont need that ice-cream either . Again, its always best to start small.

Here are my first 3 habits (starting really small)

1. Having vitamin supplements daily – This is now automatic, I wake up and start looking for the tablets.

2. No reading on the pot – It still takes some will power to not take the paper in!

3. Avoid facebook – This one is so tough. Whenever I open the browser, I instinctively type “www.f” wait for the auto-complete and press enter. This one is going to take a bit of time.

I am also setting up a web-page to track my daily progress on this, which should be up in a bit. The idea is to motivate and keep your intent present, through graphs and motivational quotes. Once its up, it will be free for anyone to use.

No New Year Resolutions this year! Just New Year Habits ūüėĬ†

How to Badger a call centre

I got my way today. In a way, it wasn’t really me who got his way. It was a version of me I seldom am.

Some background. I had given my 1 month old Karbonn phone (avoid Karbonn phones, their service is shitty and phones dont work) to a service center for a hang issue. I had given it on 11th September. Its 24th December today. The service center (which you should avoid like the plague) is

Mobile Seva, B-125, 6th ‘C’ Main Road, 4th Block, Jayanagar 560011. Phone Num: 41745524

Sometime towards the end of September they told me that the phone had been sent to the main office. So I waited. Two weeks later again, I called.

“No, the phone is still with the main office.”

I pretty much forgot about the phone after that. Until my Samsung S2 started acting up. It was the end of November at that time. I called the office again, and I get the same response, the phone is still with the main office. I exploded. I screamed at the receptionist and asked to speak to the manager. She gave me a number. I screamed at the manager, he said that the piece was still at the main office. He gave me a number.

I tried the number on and off between November and December, no-one responded. I called the manager once again, screamed at him again, still he said he could not do anything. “Its with the main office”. I stopped following up.

Today, I was sitting at home and I decided that today I would make some traction in this issue.

I started calling the main office number. Nobody picked up, so I changed my strategy. I started calling a maximum of 2 rings and then cutting the call. I did this over and over and over again. Almost 15 calls like this later I get a message

“Sir pls wait, I will call”

I waited 2 minutes and no reply, so I started again, in the same way. 2 rings then cut and call again. Next message.

“Pls sir, will call.”

I waited for 5 minutes and then started again. Finally he picked up. He asked for my job sheet number and said he would call back.

I waited for 15 minutes then started again. Then came the message.

“Sir, I have been transferred to TamilNadu, I have called call-centre, they will call you”

I responded.

“Give me a number to call. You guys never call. Give me a number or I will keep calling this number”

The response came:

“Sir, please they will call”

I waited 15 minutes and began again.

“Who gave you this number?”

I forwarded the number of the manager who had given me the number. I then started calling the manager in the same way, 2 rings and then cut the phone.

Finally a message from the “main office”

‘Please call this number 9663654299’

I still hadn’t got a call from the manager yet, so I tried the office number once again.

I gave the receptionist the job sheet number and once again she says “The phone is at the main office”

I gave her the choicest expletives and screamed at her. This was followed by some back office mumbling, finally she came back online and said the phone would be available tomorrow morning. I added that if I don’t get my phone tomorrow I would file a police complaint. I cut the phone.

Just to follow up I started calling the number the “main office” gave to me. The same procedure, 2 rings and cut the phone. After 5 rings he picked up and confirmed that the phone would be given to me tomorrow.

Christmas Day, is a good day to get your phone back. Lets hope….

Update: I got my phone!

A creative thought

I was driving to work on a Friday morning when a thought struck me. Many thoughts usually strike me on a daily basis, but those are usually of the self-congratulatory or self-deprecating nature, which are not worthy of public distribution, unless ofcourse one is looking for some pity. Today is a good day, I feel loved and cherished so there is no need of pity (today).

Anyway, back to the thought. I had just finished watching a series of lectures on my laptop. I actually bought these to be heard as audio lectures in the car. Didnt read the label correctly and it turned out to be a dvd with movies. So I opened my laptop and plugged in my headphones to hear the lectures on my drive to work. The lecture series was titled “Managing yourself”. One of the lectures dealt with innovation and I think that was what triggered this thought.

Now about the thought.

It occured to me that innovation occurs when you are dealing with a problem. When you want a specific outcome in a specific environment. Many a time this environment is hostile to the outcome.

A problem is always created in language. It is a construct that means that given two places/situations/times A and B one decides that B is a better place/situation/time to be in. The problem is to get to B. In reality ofcourse there is no problem, it requires language to appear.

Creativity is the creative process. It creates something from nothing (as it were). In the presence of no solution it creates solution(s).

Leadership¬†is the beginning of the creative process. It is how something that has never happened before is declared and caused. The leader declares how things will turn out and causes “things” to happen. Leaders decide the “B” point of a problem. Then they enroll their environment into it and then cause it to occur.

Given these definitions, its easy to see how innovation comes about.

The Leader creates a destination with no basis in the past (true creativity may be informed by the past, but it should not be based on it). Then Creativity is used to find a way to “B” which finally leads to innovation.

Leadership -> Creativity-> Innovation

Now lets find the opposites of these words.

Servitorship (Following some other’s direction) -> Maintenance (not creating anything new) -> Renovation

Its just a thought, suggestions, comments?

Domino effect.

Myriad little problems, deadlines to meet, people to please and things to do. This is life, day to day. The next tragedy is just around the corner, LIC premium, pension life certificate, some illness. Somehow avoid all this and sleep well and maybe eat as well as you can. If that is done and handled spend the rest of the time looking good and avoiding looking bad. If that is handled then relax. You’ve earned it!

The search for relaxation. This is life day-to-day. And I wonder, why is it always the same? Why is it always one thing after another to somehow manage? Somehow manage to relax.

Well my son, you arent disciplined enough you know? my mind says. You have never been able to keep it together, just finish it. Manage it somehow this time. After a while I dont even resist. I accept it, this is life, this is the present, the future. Lets just finish it.

Then Sensei came. He spoke, while I was asleep. You know your problem. You are pushing over each domino by yourself. Is that nature? and he vanished.

Dominoes I thought. And I thought and thought. One domino hits another which hits another, which hits another. You dont hit all dominoes yourself.

Then enlightenment. Instead of asking what are the dominoes in your life, ask which domino should I hit so that every other domino falls over automatically. Find that domino, place it properly and fire. What can I do right now so that everything else becomes easier or obsolete. Do that thing.