Personal Upleveling: What features will you add to the '2017 You'?

A post by Harish, CTQ co-founder - he's working on upleveling his tennis this year.

As part of a reflection exercise, when I looked back at my 2016, I thought I had a ‘bumper year’ as far as learning goes. I had read ~10 books, learned about new ideas, took up tennis. I was very happy with myself. Then I wondered how and why it was such a different year — I obviously wanted to ensure good things in life are a result of a system I follow rather than by accident. That’s when the super-importance of reflection struck me — I had had decent years in the past but since I had not sat down to reflect on what I had learned in the past year, I had not managed to capture it (and feel happy about it). I have never been one to make new year resolutions. So there wasn’t a list to go by as well.

In the last few months, we have been talking a lot about skills one needs to stay relevant in the age of AI. What can you do as an individual and what does an organization need to do to build that resilience to withstand the shocks that are inevitable. How can you build a new you to ensure you not only survive those shocks but also flourish? 

When I started looking at the skills I need to pick up/get better at, some that immediately popped up because of the needs at work:

  1. Programming
  2. Making beautiful presentations
  3. Selling
  4. Creating an online audience — for a newsletter/podcast
  5. Interviewing people
  6. Learning a new language — reading my mother tongue Telugu to start with
  7. Reading a Balance Sheet
  8. Swimming
  9. Skipping!
  10. Solving the Rubik’s Cube
  11. Cooking
  12. Playing an instrument

Now I have been trying to follow a systems approach to life instead of a goals approach as Scott Adams recommends. It’s been working and some of the things that I have got better at with that approach are eating healthier, playing tennis, reading books and also writing blog posts! 

I am also curious to find out how a goals-driven approach will work, given what we now know about system design, behaviour nudges et al. Some of the skills that I want to learn are more of habits that I should eventually bring into my system and not just treat them as finite projects with goals. I’ll be trying a variety of techniques — e.g. cooking might have a goal of being able to prepare a certain dish or learning how to play a particular song on the keyboard. If I enjoy cooking/ playing the keyboard, I might do more free-form exploration. Tim Ferris talks about the Pareto’s Law in learning something — 80% of what you need to learn to become world-class in something can be learned in 20% of the time and then it’s a question of practising for longer durations to gradually get better at the remaining 20%. I’ll see where I will need to use this principle. I also plan to experiment with the no. of things I’ll try to learn/pick up at any given time — from dedicated sprints on one thing to trying my hand at multiple things for a few days.

Is there a time frame? At this point, I’m undecided. 

I plan to create quests for each of these skills/habits and hopefully talk about all/some of these when we do our annual learning offsite in December 2017. 

One thing is for sure — I’m excited about what I’ll learn and also what I’ll learn from the learning experiments. In that sense, I’m still being partial to the systems approach ;-)