Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Don't be good

My friend Kashish Bhatia is the culprit for this post. The title here is the summary of a two-hour rant we shared a few nights back. The man is a quiet person mostly, but was on fire that day. Try not to take it at face value :-)

We are all taught to be good from childhood. The problem is, in our homes, and in our communities, and in our education systems, we are taught only the things that are wrong or completely useless.

No one teaches us how to negotiate, or how to think in such and such situation, or how to do something constructive instead of wasting time on the internet. 

Additionally, our childhood experience revolved around making people happy. Parents, teachers, coaches, elders, the peer group, you name it. Apparently, even saying "Bye" to visitors is an important thing.

Somewhere along the line, we grow up. And we forget the difference between behaving well and doing things that we like. It is one thing to have a good relationship with your team lead, but it is another thing to miss family and work weekends just because you are an important resource for the team, in your TL's words.

What Kashish "ji" taught me that night is that it is really important to not give a fuck. While arguing with a client, it is worth not quoting down just to win a contract. Shitty work for a shitty price is worse than no work and some stress. Ditto for all professional and personal relationships. Our teachers, elders and seniors are right only as long as they are right. A moment of doubt is a moment of chasing our own intuition rather than what someone else, who most likely has never been in our situation tells us.

The best part about this advice is that it is just like capitalism. At least in theory. You do what you want. You get what you want. If not from your current situation, you do something to change the situation. An important inference is to make sure you don't get into All-Eggs-in-a-Single-Basket situations. I am almost in one right now. Not cool.

The ability to walk away from a situation, no matter how important for you, is the most important thing between your current position and success. And by success, I also mean happiness. If nothing else, it gives you a psychological advantage. I have worked at a place where they made you wear formal clothes. And I was stupid enough to want that job that much. It is atleast worth it to negotiate for better, which I did not do at that time.

This brings us to the next thing: red flags. No matter how tempting at the time, don't touch the following things even with a long stick: workplaces that offer you a fast paced environment, people intent on knowing your past romantic experiences, clients wanting you to offer a low price just this once, and of course, 2 pizzas at the price of 1. The last one is just unhealthy! Feel free to make up your own red flags.

What is more important is that with this way of thinking no one takes anyone else for granted. You don't get in the way of your parents'/children's hobbies, and they don't get in the way of yours. This does not mean you can't have any family time, of course.

As Kashish pointed out, it is important to draw a balance somewhere. It is worth missing football today because your grandmother is having a heart bypass, but not because you need to work for 16 hours. Or, 16 hours is fine if you have been able to negotiate a better situation: more money or compensatory leave later :-)

Here goes down the drain my attempt at keeping blog posts short. But who gives a fuck anymore?

28 comments:

  1. haha exactly, develop an I don't give a shit attitude, to an extent, don't let the stuff bother you that comes up, why waste your life fretting about such nonsense. Anyone wants me to work 16 hour days they can stuff it up their ass.

    And as for advice, best advice ever, never take advice from anyone who hasn't been through what you have been through. As they are just a bunch of windbags thinking they know, when they don't.

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    1. One thing that seems to work for me while asking for advice is to tell the situation to the other person as specifically as possible, and then ask them what they would do if they were in our place.

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  2. You've provided some very sound advice. In order to be successful (and happy) in life, it's extremely important to follow our own intuition and make our own path. The advice from other people might be well-intended, but only we know what is best for ourselves.

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    1. Yes Jon, our wrong intuition is better than the world's right guidance. I would rather fail and have people tell me I told you so than succeed and have people vying for the credit.

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  3. I strongly believe that we should only take advice from people who we respect and admire, but mostly from our intuition. Our intuition rarely leads us astray.

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    1. Yes, even if our intuition leads us astray, it is a learning experience.

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  4. "we forget the difference between behaving well and doing things that we like" it's really true! and is really difficult when we don't have time for nothing. Now I'm working for 8 hours and studying for 4 hours. Before I did many things like stay with my family, go to the gym... But now I just have my weekends... But it's so tiring, even more when I have a test to study (usually two or three per week).

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    1. You will surely come out stronger and calmer out of this hectic experience.

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    2. About night is that it is really important to not give a fuck > it's really true. Last week I cheated a class (I will not say useless, but we never have class that day) to study for a test. It was great because I had time to eat, bathe, study hard and rest yet!

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  5. I certainly agree with your final paragraph; I've been trying to tell my oldest son that for YEARS.

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    1. My dad tried to tell me that for years, and I couldn't get it. A random chat with a friend did. It is silly that the source sometimes matters more than the actual content :-)

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  6. You and your pal offer good advice. I always try to strike a balance between heart and head but sometimes it is very difficult to reach a conclusion.

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    1. Yes, balancing heart and head is difficult. I hope to learn this, or at least to get a bit better with age and experiences.

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  7. "I don't give a shit" attitude works if you are rich and do not have to work for a living. In real life, on occasion, we have to "adjust" ourselves. I agree with you 100% to avoid people who are nosy about your past romantic experiences.

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    1. If someone needs money desperately, then they will do anything for it. But that desperation can be because of difficult circumstances, or because they need some new clothes to impress their friends. No-shit attitude is required in the second case.

      Adjustment surely cannot be underestimated. But the way I have seen it in life, oftentimes we just adjust for the sake of adjusting. Staying at silly, soul sucking jobs, not opposing arranged marriages (if not liked), watching corruption happen all the time etc.

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  8. These things cannot be taught, they just have to evolve from experience.
    My favorite expression is 'Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.'

    'Me first' is not always good. But equally important is that 'Me last' is unhealthy too.

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    1. I understand what you are saying, but it is better to leave some things to experience. I don't know what being electrocuted feels like, and I don't want to experience it. Of course, we need not be slaves to only our experience. We can learn from others too.

      There are two things in the me-first/me-last thought: first, that we are always taught me-last, and it is wrong. It needs to be balanced with a good dose of me-first. Secondly, if there is no middle path, me-first is better than me-last.

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    2. Experience need not always be first-hand. If you are observant enough, someone else's bad experience is adequate to be a lesson.
      I agree with you on the middle-path. I don't know if this sacrifice-obsession is peculiar to Indians or all over.

      P.S- Have you read Ayn Rand? She has some fascinating views. She has a non-fiction book titled 'The Virtue on Selfishness'.

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    3. This obsession is not in Indians only. It seems to be a result of lower or middle class thinking: no risk, even if it means lots of inconvenience. We are so universally lower/middle class that it seems we are made for this kind of thinking.

      This is the second or third time I have heard of Ayn Rand. I hope to go through this book sometime in the future.

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  9. Profound. Life is worth much more than what is taught.

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    1. Yes, life is worth more, and in a way has no boundaries.

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  10. True. Balance is the key. We should learn to sort our priorities.

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    1. I am still learning. Hope to get past this learning phase soon :-)

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  11. KK, you have the heart of a poet. Work as you must, do what you must to sustain it. It's not easy, I know. All my best wishes to you!

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    1. Thanks Geo, for the great words and wishes. Made my day!

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  12. Indian parents always teach their kids to let things go or to pray but not many teach their kids to fight back esp. their girls to break the jaw of the boy passing lewd comments. being good is good can be really bad for one's self respect in esp the long run for it makes you tolerant of all the shit happ. around you.

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    1. This is so right. I am not sure about girls, but one thing that I am sure of is that we are made unnecessarily meek in our childhood. I am still fighting it on a personal level :-)

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