Few questions to ponder
Machines are really good at providing answers. What differentiates humans is our ability to ask the right questions. During my career, I have found tremendous value in framing questions correctly and in being curious and tenacious about answering them. The best questions are the ones that are never satisfactorily answered, but the process of answering them leads to deep insights and growth. With that preamble, here are my current top five questions, that I am in the pursuit of answering.
What are your routines for managing and increasing your attention and energy? As I shared here, time management is over rated. I believe that it is more important to get better at managing one’s attention and energy as when you do those two well, time automagically gets managed.
How is your knowledge compounding? The process of learning something goes through several stages. For me, it is an iterative five step process that involves consuming, note taking, revising, practicing and teaching. The lynchpin habit here is good note taking. My current approach for this is the Zettelkasten method using roamresearch as the tool. If you are interested in sharpening your note taking skill, I highly recommend reading the book, How to take Smart Notes.
How are you limiting work you take on? Taking on too many things stands in the way of doing great work. In this article, Cal Newport makes a good case that in pursuing individual productivity, we are trapped in a perpetual cycle of creating work for each other which leaves us all over worked and overwhelmed. The discipline to not start a new thing until you have finished what is already on your plate will be the key differentiating skill for the foreseeable future. We all tend to be starters but success will increasingly favor the finishers.
What do you know will fail, but you are still doing it? This question was inspired by the conversation between Seth Godin and Tim Ferris in this podcast. In answering this question, I realized how often I like to take paths that I had already travelled, basking in the comfort of assured success. My foray to answering this so far has been small baby steps - a tennis drill that I have not tried, a recipe that I have not cooked, a habit that I have failed to make permanent.
What are you getting better at? People are fond of talking about things they are good at and humble bragging about things that they are bad at. Strengths and weaknesses are a point in time view of who you are. I found it more insightful to get a temporal view, which this question gets at. This question also shifts your attention to process over results, a central tenet of eastern wisdom.