Friday, December 09, 2011

Volume 3 Issue 49: Intelligent Investing

Motivation From Shit - Part 1

From TechCrunch:
By saying something is “shit”, no matter how good it actually is, you force people to reexamine their work. The end result is usually better. 
There are also stories of (Steve) Jobs telling people that an idea is “shit” — and then coming back a few days later with the same idea. It seems that his default was to call something “shit”, maybe without even really thinking about it. 
Is that helpful? Not on the surface, but the truth is that nothing is perfect. Something can always be made better. And people wrapped up in their own idea or product often lose perspective. They may believe what they’ve done is perfect — or at the very least, the best they can do. But it’s often not. They can do better. It’s all about motivation.
Creativity is a challenging business. Not only do we have to struggle through the mud to come up with the best possible output all the time, we have to take this shit from our peers and bosses. Before you jump to the conclusion that this is a post about bitching about my job, I assure you that it is not. 

Swallowing our pride is bitter medicine. Our initial reaction would very often be "Who the hell is that guy to tell me that my work is shit?". And I don't think that we would be entirely by thinking that as well. Seriously, how can anyone else sitting across from us (or whatever) tell us with just a couple of minutes of looking over, that our work is shit when we spent many sleepless nights "perfecting it". 

For many of us, this can be very demoralizing. It would appear that our efforts have gone unappreciated. For some of us, this could even turn into a personal issue. In my experience, such problems is not so different from the one I described in my post on "dwelling":
I'd like to share a fictional story about Adam and Eve (forgive the biblical reference)

Eve texts Adam at 11.03 am one Saturday morning,

"Hey Adam, how are you doing? Just wanted to wish you good morning! I love you!" 
2 hours and a few minutes later, at 1.08 pm, Adam finally struggles to get out of bed, no thanks to his Dota buddies who insisted on "One more last game" for the 6th time at 4 am. Adam drags himself to the bathroom, brushes his teeth, shaves (and do all the hygienic things that most men do :P) and then jacks off while he takes a shower, steps out, puts on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, grabs his cell phone, parks his butt on that magical sofa, flips the TV on with his well-trained clicking finger or thumb, looks down on his phone and then finally sees the message that Eve sent him about 3 hours ago (It's 1.59 pm now). So Adam opens the message and thinks to himself, "Aww, that's sweet..." (Adam is a nice guy by the way, he is just nocturnal).

"Hey baby, I just woke up not long ago. I'm starving. You've had your lunch, right? I think I'll just stop by the cafe outside to pick up some food", Adam unsuspectingly replies.

Adam heads out the door, gets a call from his good friend, Chuck, who invites him to go for a movie. Having no prior plans, Adam accepts, grabs a quick lunch, heads out with Chuck and the guys to catch Saw V. Little did Adam know that 30 seconds after he replied and slid his cell into his pocket, Eve had replied:
"Hey you! I was thinking maybe we could catch a movie later. Maybe some dinner afterwards. What do you think?"

If only Adam's cell was not in "Silent" mode. He had classes on Friday and forgot to switch the modes. One knows too well how the vibration doesn't really feel like anything when you are walking with the cell in your pocket. Girls, if the cell is in your handbag, you wouldn't notice a vibrate right? Especially with that arsenal of "goodies" in your bag.

Unknowingly, Adam sits through the 2 hour movie that started at 3 pm, and ended at 5,36 pm because of advertising. Guys being guys, went on to get a few good rounds of Dota going at the nearest LAN shop and before they know it, it's 7 pm, and time for dinner. Now, hold your horses, you bet that Adam didn't check his cell and went to dinner with his buddies, right? Wrong! Every guy checks his cell phone after walking out of a LAN shop. After all, they have to check if their girlfriend texted them. To his surprise and panic, Adam sees 2 unreplied messages and 1 miss call and replies immediately:

"Hey, I am so sorry. I didn't see your message earlier. I was out with my friends. We went to watch Saw V. I know you're not really a big fan of horror movies. It's kinda late to pick you up for dinner now, but I will make it up to you another time. I'm really sorry".

Perfectly honest mistake by a perfectly honest guy who really cares about his girlfriend. While some girls may understand that and accept his apology, but it is all too common that some girls may start giving a guy like Adam a cold shoulder. Reason?

Well, at 11.03 am after Eve texted Adam, Eve goes to freshen up, gets all dressed up (which by then is already 12.30 pm), hoping that Adam would have replied by then and he could swing by, pick her up for lunch and catch a movie (She was planning to watch Saw V with him because she knew how he loves horror). Thinking that she might appear too desperate or being too clingy towards Adam, Eve decides not to call Adam and bug him. "He's probably taking a shower". At 1.30 pm, Eve begins to think, "He's taking an awfully long time to reply. I wonder what he is up to." Another 29 minutes of see-sawing goes by, not knowing if she should or should not call Adam, thankfully Adam replies. "Phew". Eve jumps in shock of her ringtone, opens the message immediately and smiles. "Finally, he replied". She quickly replies his message, hoping to at least catch a movie with him later.

The rest as we deem to be history happened. Now, in between the hours of 2.00 pm to 5.30 pm, she texted Adam:

"Hey, are you back from lunch yet? I haven't heard from you. What are you doing? Did you get my message?"

Another 40 minutes goes by. Eve calls Adam. But his cell was on silent mode. Apparently the vibration wasn't that great either. Perhaps it was off because he was in the cinema. Who knows...

Now Eve is beginning to get really frustrated. "What is Adam really doing? Why hasn't he replied my message? Why didn't he pick up my call? He must be playing computer games with his friends again. Is he out with another girl? I guess that's quite unlikely. He's not the cheating type. If only I could see him. I made sure I left my schedule open this weekend just to see him. I even decided not to go to Jenny's birthday party because it was the premier weekend for Saw V. What is he doing? Where could he be? Maybe he is watching the movie with his friends. Why didn't he invite me along? Is he embarassed about me? Does he think I am too clingy? Am I too clingy? Should I give him more space? Why am I so frustrated? He probably just didn't see my message. But why would someone own a cellphone and not be reachable? Might as well not own a cellphone".

As you can see, this thought process can go on and on and on. This is called "dwelling". To the unsuspecting guy (I guess he may or may not be innocent, but he would in no way suspect he was doing something very wrong), he will wonder what he really did wrong. All he did was just being late in replying an sms. Besides, his girlfriend has been late in replying his messages before too.

On the other end of things, Eve is all worked up, decides to give Adam a cold shoulder and demands to herself that she deserves to be treated better. So now, what is seemingly a small situation had been blown out of proportions because of an innocent mistake. Eve continues to give Adam the cold shoulder for a few days. Adam still wonders why can't Eve forgive him for replying an sms late. Eve has replied more texts late than he has, as far as he remembers. But of course Eve's reasons were "completely valid".

Now, boys and girls, at some point in our relationships with our significant other, we would have encountered a situation similar to this. So it is my hope that we ponder about this story with an open mind and stay aware that some mistakes can be innocent. The best way to avoid a cold war like this one would be to communicate. Talk to your partners. Be clear and honest.

All this could have been avoided if Eve had said in the first message that she wanted to watch Saw V with Adam. She wanted to "act cool" by not being the clingy girlfriend, or so she thinks and thus played a small role in building this mountain out of a molehill. Adam on the other hand, piled on the dirt by not checking his cellphone every 15 minutes, but can he really be blamed? Maybe... If he was the kind of guy who puts his girlfriend ahead of everything he does, he might have checked his phone sooner.

So, once again, communication is key. I guess I take back my point about women being evil. Nonetheless, the mathematical proof is concrete. Hope you liked the story.
I had entitled that post, "Of Mountains and Molehills". I think that's pretty much how we should take the comment that our work is "Shit". Don't dwell on it, and move on. Give it a day or two, and go back to figuring out why did that person say such a thing? Personally, I think this is the only way to improve.

We will continue with Part 2 of this ultra-long post on Motivation From Shit in the next issue.

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