We have been leaders all our lives—in school, college, our MBA days together and in our successful corporate careers across the past 20 years and in life overall.
One of the principles which has helped us as leaders is the discipline of self-learning, which is said to be the highest ROI activity one can do, from an investment perspective. This constant journey of self-learning has evolved us as individuals and leaders. It has increased our self-awareness, our empathy and mindfulness and hence, our perspective on life and success.
And while we have imbibed knowledge and experience in our four decades on earth, we have also come to realise, with humility, how little we still know.
Hence, at the start of 2018, sitting in a tiger reserve on New Year’s Eve family holiday, we decided to take our journey of self-learning into the next orbit.
We decided to embark on a 52 Weeks Learning Challenge where both of us ambitiously penned down a long list of 63 topics that we would deep-dive into and cover across the 52 weeks of 2018. The simple idea was: we would immerse ourselves to absorb one topic every week of 2018.
These were the topics that deeply interested us—both diverse and fascinating—from the art of fine coffee to mind maps—from how billionaires think to how pro-marathoners train—from mindfulness to marijuana and from ancient medicine to cutting-edge Hematology.
The modus operandi for accelerated self-learning was threefold:
- We would speak to experts and hack into their life-journeys and learnings.
- We would then would scan and absorb existing literature on the subjects (both ancient knowledge and latest research papers).
- Then we would debate and discuss vigorously between ourselves to understand new concepts and find inter-connections in the knowledge base that we had built to uncover new insights and to appreciate new perspectives.
To make all this possible in a disciplined manner, we had to prioritise our time across 2018 ruthlessly, given that we both work in demanding corporate roles and spend our leisure time with our two teenage daughters and our large community of family and friends. Hence, we drew out a “Sacrifice List” which axed certain activities to make time for this weekly discipline of Self-Learning—out went binge-watching on Netflix. We missed our annual two- week summer vacation since we got so immersed in this effort.
Lastly, to give a convenient yet visual handle or hook to our self-imposed #52WeeksLearningChallenge, we drew inspiration from Morpheus in the movie Matrix who offers a choice of the Blue Pill or the Red Pill to the protagonist, Neo. Since the Red Pill denotes an adventure, an uncharted journey and an experience which would dive into the unknown, we called our unique journey across 52 weeks of 2018 as #52RedPills.
What did we learn? Well, three lessons, to begin with, for more holistic living:
We did a time audit of how we spend our 24 hours—both weekdays and weekends, the results surprised us. We had to tweak some daily habits to “create” time for our #52RedPills effort. A time audit is thus highly recommended to know where your days and hours go.
We were delighted to see how many people offered their time and advice generously once we started reaching out for expert advice, guidance, research references and networks. So, if you have a purposeful mission, do not be afraid to ask, invite and involve people.
Realising how inter-connected subjects are, we started to build our knowledge base across different subjects. Hence, the phrase “You Are What You Eat” is not only related to one’s food diet, but to the entirety of what one consumes—from books to ideas to conversations with people. Hence, we advocate mindfulness, meditation and clean eating as inter connected habits which allow you to grow holistically and thrive.
(This is part 1 of a two-part series. Look out for part 2 to know more about learnings from the journey.)
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