Adopt a “Craftsman” mindset


December 23rd, 2014 · No comments


It’s only been a week since I’ve read Cal Newport’s “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” but I feel like I’ve been telling my friends about the book FOREVER.  I absolutely LOVE the book.  It’s brought so much clarity to me – as I have been very confused on where the next step in my career will be.

Personally, I have developed many new interests unrelated to design (I am a designer by profession):  coaching, training, learning, and more.  There are people out there who say “Just follow your passion!” or “Screw it, just do it!”  This, to me, is confusing (and scary) advice since these interests tend not to pay as well for starting junior level employment – and who knows if I’ll like those endeavors anyway.

So what to do?  Gather the courage and just quit my job?  This is what the new budding “lifestyle-design” community advocates.  They say ‘follow your dreams’ – the rest will work it out itself.

Cal Newport says otherwise.

His book explains how you should ignore the idea of “following your passion.”  Why?  Because most people have no clue what their passion is — and many who quit their jobs and try to ‘figure it out later’ end up flat on their faces.

Instead, successful people tend to get good at something and build ‘career capital’ which allows them more and more control into areas they find interesting.

When I read this – I was in HEAVEN.  This drive to build your skills and develop yourself – is EXACTLY why I blog.  To learn and develop yourself is the mark of successful people.  Continuous learning leads to continuous excellence which leads to continuous success.

One of my favorite quotes from the book brings a massive paradigm shift.  I have been keen on being more productive — but it’s no fun doing LOTS of random things fast.  Instead, the key is to do things fast – but focus on your TOP priorities.  But what are your TOP priorities?

Newport argues that your focus should be on developing skills and cultivating a crafts-centric mindset.  Newport explains it better than me:

….[I] fundamentally changed the way I approach my work. If I had to describe my previous way of thinking, I would probably use the phrase “productivity-centric.” Getting things done was my priority.


When you adopt a productivity mindset, however, deliberate practice-inducing tasks are often sidestepped, as the ambiguous path toward their completion, when combined with the discomfort of the mental strain they require, makes them an unpopular choice in scheduling decisions. It’s much easier to redesign your graduate-student Web page than it is to grapple with a mind-melting proof.


The result for me was that my career capital stores, initially built up during the forced strain of my early years as a graduate student, were dwindling as time went on…however, [his discoveries] changed this state of affairs by making me much more “craft-centric.”


Getting better and better at what I did became what mattered most, and getting better required the strain of deliberate practice. This is a different way of thinking about work, but once you embrace it, the changes to your career trajectory can be profound.

Focusing more on what skills will help me become the person I want to be, changes everything for me.  With a craftman-centric mindset — knowing what skills that require you to get to the next level would be the obvious exploration.

So what do you want to master?  What skills are rare and unique and valuable in your field?  Think about it.

How to Confront Others

Fight Fairly

May 30th, 2014 · No comments


It can happen to anyone.  We go through our day, and BAM!  Someone misbehaves with us.  They say or do something that hurts our feelings.  Or heck, sometimes they don’t even need to say ANYTHING — we can just sense the negativity or judging or whatever.

Whether or not the other person is AWARE of what they are doing — we can really feel hurt.  Your feelings are real.  Don’t let anyone say otherwise.  Emotional scars from a single moment can last hours, days, weeks, decades, even lifetimes.

But rather than speak up – we stay silent.  Instead of letting out our hurt, we bottle it in.

What’s worse is – we feel afraid to speak up in the moment and afraid to speak up after the moment too!

If we can learn to not be afraid — to confront others we can let go of baggage.  We can be “lighter” when we walk around.  We can stop carrying around with us so much hurt and pain.  And we can learn how to communicate in a way that the other person gets our boundaries.  We develop more self-respect and self-confidence.

This article is going to help you learn WHEN to speak up and HOW to speak up so that confronting others isn’t so scary.

Why Confrontation is Good

When you don’t confront others you end up reinforcing your feelings of helplessness and inadequacy.   Essentially, you undermine your self-respect.

What is Your Style Under Stress?

Fight Fairly

May 22nd, 2014 · No comments


As proactive young professionals, we should strive to improve ourselves and how we assert ourselves.

When we have to stand up to others, often we are STRESSED. The other person or the situation is stressing us out and each of us responds differently when we are stressed.

Why It’s Important to Know Your Style

When you know HOW you respond under stress (your style) you can be aware of it.  You can then change it and work on handling stress better.  The goal of course is called equanimity – calmness under pressure.

When you don’t know how you respond under stress, you continue making the same mistakes over and over again.

Young professionals who are proactive know who they are and what they need to work on.

2 Modes of Coping with Stress

This may be HIGHLY general – but in my opinion, there are 2 ways we deal with stress:  Fight or Flight.  We either deal with the situation in an aggressive way (fight) or we deal with the situation in a passive way (flight).

The healthy middle ground, equanimity, is called assertiveness.

So What’s Your Style under Stress?

Below I’ve listed some of various styles under pressure (some of these come from a book called Crucial Conversations).  Scan the list and notice which one describes you best.  These are areas of growth for you.

When I am stressed I tend to…

FIGHT (Aggressiveness):

  1. Get mean (verbal abuse).

If you’re TOO nice – you need to SLAP yourself into reality

Nice Person Syndrome

May 21st, 2014 · No comments


If you’re too nice or if you’re dealing with someone who is too nice, it can be frustrating at times.

When so-called nice people continue putting others needs ahead of their own, they can eventually disrespect themselves and their own wants and needs.

Nice people may think “this is what a good girlfriend should do” or “I’m being selfish, let her have her way” or a host of other reasons for why they are putting the other person’s needs ahead of their own.

Nice people tend to be passive and don’t like to rock the boat or feel that sharing with others their needs and wants may be too confrontational.  So they choose the EASY route and stay “nice”.


Being nice is great – but the nice card doesn’t pay.  Why?  Because there are time when people are nice – YET REALLY REALLY inauthentic.  Their “nice” programming kicks in.  They don’t want to experience cognitive dissonance.  They don’t want to do something that isn’t “NICE” (their image of themselves).

Instead, they bottle up what they REALLY think and how they REALLY feel.  This is inauthenticity at its finest.

When we continue doing things we TRULY don’t really want to do for another person, we can build resentment and anger towards the other person. This is where passive-aggressive behavior is created.

It’s source comes from YOU being inauthentic first and getting upset for not expressing and asserting yourself IN THE MOMENT.

In summary, these are the common problems “nice” people have…

  • Giving in to others too easily

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  • Hi I’m Monish. I’m a 30 year old Interaction Designer exploring how people can develop themselves to the next level at home and work.

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    “I was at a confusing point in my life where my career wasn’t fully satisfying me but the comfort of my job made it difficult to switch. I started talking to Monish about what would help me figure out what I really wanted to do with life. He helped me weed through my jumbled thoughts and it gave me some focus on what type of career changes I needed to make to really be happy…”
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