Hara Hachi Bu

Most of the times when it comes to a mid-week party I observe that some of my peers follow work hard and party harder style and end up skipping the first session of work the next day or not turn up at all. Indulgence is a key part in everyone’s life, it gives a sense fulfillment and at that moment of gratification the feeling is indescribable. The flip side of indulgence is that after the sense of fulfillment it creates an even more bigger void such the next time we need more of it. I dont know why but our brain and mind always likes to have a negative balance. The moment something is achieved then the bar is raised higher; this is what drives the economies and civilizations, it is deep within us.

Hara Hachi Bu – I came across this term when I was in school reading about why many people in Okinawa, Japan live very long (more than 100 years). I forgot what the term was but the message stayed on my mind. The message was that stop eating if you think you can take one more serving to feel full. The beauty of that message is that it is not true just for eating, it is true for anything we do. If we stop indulging in something before we feel satisfied then the negative balance already exists and there is no compensation done by the body and the mind.

Thanks to the book Presentation Zen, I was able to recall the term again. In the book it is mentioned that the same applies for presentations, finish the presentation at a place where it will leave the audience wanting for more. If done that way, the curiosity will drive people to dive deeper into the subject or to reach back to the presenter. Sports stars also have an unwritten rule that they retire at the peak of their career.

Deferred gratification is the key to help us have a self control. The cause and effect are not immediately related but there are long term case studies like the Standford Marshmallow Experiment which shows that deferred gratification is a good trait for a happy life and career. Hara Hachi Bu.

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As a team member…

Malcolm Gladwell mentions an example in his book “The Tipping Point” that when the number of people who can act in the scene increases then the number of people who will act will decrease considerably. My observation on this has been very similar when working with project teams, I guess that is almost everyone’s observation as the big ball of mud is often noted in the codebase of large teams. Gladwell says that people are lot more sensitive to their environment than they seem. It is no surprise that the retrospective prime directive says

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand

It is so surprising that how an individual would never do something alone will do that when doing it as a group or vice versa. Brain (mind) also keeps growing beyond the physical growth and can reach very high levels of maturity over the course of years. An writeup on Constructive developmental theory by Peter Pruyn predicts that around 58% of the population is stuck at the maturity level “Socialized mind”. At this level of maturity an individual’s alignment would be to conform to the local group leading to the perception of belonging to a clan. The fear of exclusion will drive most of the individual’s action. It is sort of a phobia which will prevent people from moving to higher levels of maturity as mentioned in Constructive developmental theory.

What can we do to remove this fear?

One inspiration I drew was from this ted talk. In this talk, David Kelley mentions about Guided Mastery, a technique derived from the works of Albert Bandura. Using this technique people with a specific fear get away from that fear by slowly building up the confidence; stepping up the challenge in small increments where people get used to the fearful activity but not at the level which is overwhelming. Some more info about that technique is here. In a team setup mostly people find it hard to take up a task of fixing something or letting their peers know that something is wrong and we need to correct. The reason people find it hard is because of the fear of being wrong and getting rejected. By making sure and enforcing the fact in the team that no one will be penalized just because s/he was wrong or blew a whistle; also getting the new comers feel very comfortable with this style of communication in a phased manner.

I enjoyed the transformation I went through as a team member in such a team, it definitely turned out to be a high performing team.

Preparation, Presentation and Admiration

While playing cricket, it takes some time to get settled into the rhythm of the game and play well as a batsman. One thing I noticed while playing  is, as long as I concentrate on my game I continue playing well. The moment I admire my own shot or think that I did better than what I expected, I lose concentration and the performance dips. This was not only evident in cricket, it was more pronounced when I showed up on stage plays at school, it is imperative that I remain focussed till the end of the event.

This began to worry me when presenting to a large audience because I used to feel good that if first part of my presentation went on fine and I would lose focus for few moments before I regain it. Presentations unlike writing takes a lot of preparation and it is one time write only style of delivery. The focus for a presentation should be being present for the entire duration however the presentation turns out to be.

Q. How to stay away from analysis, course correction or recovery thoughts while presenting?

A. Think of worst case scenario – the worst possible thing that can happen is that the presentation can go bad. This will bring focus onto delivering the presentation than analyzing it midway.

Q. What about recoveries from failure? Should not I be prepared for it?

A. Garr Reynolds in his book Presentation Zen talks about how connected we should be with the subject we are talking about, such that we can weave a story around the topic we want to deliver and be able to deliver the talk even without the slides.

Q. How do I know the pulse of the audience?

A. It is better to do some homework about the audience we are delivering the talk to if we are new to presenting than to try to get the pulse of audience during the talk.

Q. How do I get to think about my talk or admire it?

A. Someone in the audience should record it for us to help us retrospect our talk.