"What did you learn this year?" what CTQers have learned so far in 2019

Each December, we reflect upon what we learned that year (if you've been to our annual anti-offsite, Incite, you'll have heard these insights).

This year, we thought we'd start in June. (It's an easy way to double your learning for the year!) So here's what the CTQ team learned in 2019. 

'Hard-to-teach' Harish

When you take a swimming class, there's a good chance that you'll learn how to swim. But Harish learned more: he found out that teachability is not the same as learnability. While he struggled to keep pace with his swimming coach, he found it easier to meet his goals by trying to teach himself. Something to keep in mind while designing learning, especially for autodidacts. 

'Open Ears' Omkar Yarguddi

If Harish's learning conjured up the image of a lone 'learner', Omkar's learning was more social. He learned you don't need to be a mental health professional to help distressed people. Many times, just having a calm, non-judgmental conversation can provide a lot of relief. This help them become aware that they are not alone, and that there might be other options. Tools like open-ended questions, reflective listening, and affirmations can help these conversations. The best part is that these are skills that can be learnt.

'All Clear' Ankita 

In the CTQ reading compound, we often read eclectic summaries. For Ankita, one such book led to the concept of Swedish Death Cleaning - an approach to minimalism that you can do even when aliveAs that book said, start Death Cleaning (döstädning) with the basement and with bigger pieces of clutter. Tackle papers and photographs last so as to not slow down progress.

'Stimulating' Sanasi

Sanasi discovered a partial answer to a long-pending mystery: what causes lack of focus? She used to think distraction is the cause of lack of focus. This year, she learnt that distraction is a symptom, not the cause! A brain that finds it hard to focus is overstimulated. Because of this, every ~40 seconds, it seeks something "new". This forces you to get distracted.

One way to regain focus is get bored! Do mundane tasks: stand in a long queue, stare at a clock, or read terms and conditions of the iPhone. Add boredom to your daily diet and slowly your brain starts to lower its stimulation level. As that happens, you will see an improvement in focus.

'Slotted and Sorted' Sirisha

Sirisha's highlight? 'Tight Bubble of Total Focus', a concept by Robin Sharma. Set aside slots to do something and don't get distracted. It is different from the Pomodoro Technique because it's not just a time management technique but one that lets you accomplish critical tasks in an uninterrupted way. Clearly, Focus has been a focus area of learning at CTQ this year.

'Oh No!' Omkar Dhakephalkar

Omkar D has asked quiz questions about Murphy's Law but he appreciates it better now that he's experienced it first-hand. When Jet Airways stopped its operations, it had an impact on other airlines like Virgin Airlines as well, which was using Jet's planes on certain routes, affecting his travel plans. The ensuing chaos taught Omkar the importance of contingency planning and how any setback should be a fork rather than a roadblock. 

'Ran out of Apt Adjectives' Ramanand

He's been learning about systems that ‘compound’ from small elements. This has followed a year of acting in small steps’ - French via Duolingo, 10 mins daily; reading Godel-Escher-Bach one page a day; and of course, reading a book summary each day. G-E-B has a great chapter on ants and colonies, and how complex behaviour emerges from small actors. Will these little ant-like habits compound over time to become something else?