Nikhil Jois

Experiments, Learnings and Inspiration

Month: March 2017

Why I write and 7 benefits that will convince you to too

On most days, the first piece of information I consume upon waking up is via the written word. Now, on some days this is via a text message, some days it is via a newspaper headline, and on the bad days – it is via a Twitter notification. My point is, that we are all large-scale consumers of information on a daily basis.

Yet, so few of us write. Especially in a country like India where most of us are trained stenographers thanks to our schooling system. I, for one, have been writing for a very long time now.  Some of it, publicly and most of it privately.  I know that I am not very good at it, but I continue to write because of the sheer number of benefits it brings along.

I also know that some of the more-sophisticated readers amongst you dislike listicles, but this is the point where I break into that format. It helps simplify the subject and brings structure to the post. Here are the seven biggest benefits to writing (especially in the form of blogs):

Helps you create a better personal brand

Blogging or writing can help you create and maintain a personal brand.  In a world where Garyvee and Tim Ferriss thrive, a personal brand can go a long way. You’d be surprised at the number of old friends I get back in touch with who start conversations with “Long time no see, but I always read what you write and post.” The fact that they read these posts makes them feel and know that they still know and understand who I am. Your personal brand is what people think of when they first hear your name. Writing allows you more control over that narrative than most other things do.

 Helps you become a better communicator

The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most sought-after skills and has been for a while. People who can convey ideas, rally people, tell stories, and connect with others have an edge over the others. Writing helps you become a better storyteller. I once asked a bunch of people on Twitter what a must-have trait was for a leader. The opninions all revolved around communication skills.

 Helps you inculcate discipline

As someone who used to wear the ability to “multitask” as a badge of honour, I know how effective disciplined, uninterrupted, deep work can be. The practice of writing helps me stay away from distractions. This is an act that requires focus and my undivided attention. It also teaches one to think before committing to an opinion.

Helps you become more interesting

I still remember high school. Slam books were part of the farewell ritual at every stage of school. There was always a question about one’s hobbies there if I remember correctly. The answers to that question would embarrass most of us if we read them today. Writing is a great hobby.  Once you run out of things to write about, you have to learn some more and that very process keeps you on your toes. I’m yet to meet an individual who can write well but isn’t interesting. Then again, I try to avoid meeting boring people.

Helps you achieve catharsis

A lot of writers compare writing to therapy. The beauty of sitting down and pouring your emotions onto paper or… you know, a keyboard can only be appreciated by those who’ve done it.  If you’ve come across advice that revolves around maintaining a diary or journal, this is exactly why. Writing is a way to escape from reality. A way to trap your inner demons on paper. A way to yell into a pillow without waking up the neighbours.

Opens new doors

It is fascinating how many good things can happen via writing. Some of the most meaningful relationships and friendships I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy began thanks to writing. My best mentors agreed to teach me only because I wrote to them. I’ve been invited to dinners, sports matches, and vacations thanks to writing. I’ve gotten chances to speak at organisations I’d only dreamt of entering thanks to the fact that I wrote. One time, I even got to travel to an island nation in Africa with a bunch of models thanks to my writing. True story. Writing leads to opportunities and opens doors.

Helps you be useful at scale

This is probably the most important reason behind why I write. I treat this blog as my personal FAQ section. As a student of life, I attempt to become a better version of myself on a daily basis. One of the approaches that helps me do this requires that I find mentors, peers, as well as students. By writing and keeping a copy of writing accessible via a book or blog, I find it easy to redirect people to my writing instead of risking repeating myself and sounding boring. If someone asks me what my thoughts are on the benefits of writing, I’ll redirect them to this blog post

The best part? It is never too late to start writing. We live in a world where it is so easy to get started. The number of tools and platforms we have at our disposal would have made some of our idols swoon. I’m sure Ernest Hemingway would have gone bonkers had he known that such a time would come to exist. We live in a world where one doesn’t have to pay to get started. You just have to decide to start.

I also write a weekly email on Saturdays. The email usually contains a small list of things I learnt that week and the sources. It can range from book recommendations to podcast recommendations. I also include quotes I find interesting and a story or two. Does that sound like something you’d enjoy? Sign up below:

The ‘plus, minus and equal’ of learning

All of us are always trying to become better versions of ourselves. If you clicked a link and landed on this post, you did so hoping that you learn something new.

The concept I am about to introduce you to certainly isn’t something I came up with. A legendary MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter and coach – Frank Shamrock – coined this particular way of naming the framework.

As is evident by now, there are three parts to this equation.

  1. The Plus – ‘The plus’ is someone who is better than you at whatever you’re trying to get good at right now.
  2. The Minus – ‘The minus’ is someone who you’re currently better than at whatever you’re trying to get good at.
  3. The Equal – No prizes for guessing. ‘The equal’ is someone who is currently as good as you are at whatever you’re trying to get good at.

The Plus

You need ‘The plus’ because you need inspiration. The role of mentors can never be understated. Learning from someone who has been on the journey can certainly be helpful. Mentors can teach us what to do and how to do those things, but more importantly they can teach us what not to do. A personal hero of mine, Bob Proctor, defines mentors thus “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.

The Minus

You need ‘The minus’ because we live in a world that pays it forward. As the great Peter Drucker put it succinctly “No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.” The best teachers end up learning as much or more from the process and their students.  As someone who has dabbled with teaching as well as learning, I can vouch for this. Some of my best sources of inspiration have been my students.

The Equal

You need ‘The equal’ because our peers often bring out the best in us. If you’re competitive, you already know this very well. If you’re not competitive, become competitive. That’s how you start winning. However, being competitive is not the only reason to look for a peer. A peer can help you set benchmarks and measure your growth. So, think of a peer as a person who accompanies you to the gym or a sparring partner and not necessarily the neighbourhood bully who wants to beat you up.  Whatever works best for you.

 

By the way, I’m planning a weekly newsletter. The frequency is tentative and may change depending on feedback.  For now, It’ll have content related to my writing, podcast links , quotes, relevant book recommendations and maybe a YouTube video or two that caught my eye. Interested?  Sign up below.

 

 

 

You already know how to transform your life

Most us walk around waiting for special occasions to transform our lives. We rely on the perfection of a moment or its timing to assure ourselves that a miracle is, all of a sudden, a viable outcome. These inner monologues can come in several forms – “I’ll start working out on the first of January” “I’ll stop drinking after my birthday” “I’ll start blogging after I’m done with this project” or “I’ll start spending more time with my family after my job appraisal” among other similar-sounding sentences.

One of my tweets hit a note with several people who privately reached out and thanked me for triggering action.  Derek Sivers said something that has stuck with me – “If more information was the answer we’d all be Billionaires with a perfect set of abs.” The problem is almost never that we don’t know how to do something. We know exactly what to do and how to do it. We don’t do it right away because we tell ourselves one convenient line “I don’t feel like it.” In her famous TEDx Talk, Mel Robbins talks about how we are experts at succumbing to our inner snooze alarm. On a  daily basis, we postpone the things we know we ought to be doing.

There is a rational voice inside our heads that tells us to get shit done.  Listening to it may just allow you to transform your life today. Unfortunately, there is a much louder voice that tempts us to go get a shot of dopamine instead. This shot comes in various forms. Distractions lead to instant gratification and this can come in the guise of a video game or a YouTube binge-watching session.  The fact that most of us have access to every bit of gossip, negativity, pornography, and other means of abusing oneself at arm’s length doesn’t help.

There can be absolutely no change in the status quo if we train ourselves to settle.  As cliched as it may sound, ideas are a dime-a-dozen. It is execution that matters more than anything else. This does not mean you take hasty calls that risk everything all at once.  A sensible path is one where you are aware of your goal and do something to move towards it every single day.

Transforming your life can be done by doing something to be a better version of yourself in at least one department.

 

The aspects of my life I attempt to focus on:

  1. Physical Health – Staying healthy is an important aspect of reinvention. If you’ve ever felt depressed  – you know that this is a period during which you let go of your physical wellbeing. Bounce back and transform your life by eating a wee bit healthier. Cut those dirty carbohydrates. Stop yourself from eating that piece of candy that you know isn’t good for you. Move a little. Go out for a walk. Lift some damn weights. Drink more water.  Do something today that improves your physical health.
  2. Mental health – Mental wellbeing isn’t a topic that is as taboo as it used to. Thank god for that. Seek help if need be and if not, daily practices such as guided meditation or an occasional social media detox can help keep your mind sharp, focused, and healthy. A lot of successful people also use journalling as a way to maintain their mental health and it is certainly worth a try.
  3. Spiritual health – This may seem iffy to several of you and it is a very personal aspect. However, I have found that staying away from negativity is easier said than done. I  surround myself with people who love me , trust me, and cherish my company has done wonders to my life.  This holds good for your online personas as well, by the way.  You cannot complain and be grateful at the same time. I find myself making a conscious choice to find things and people to be grateful for in any scenario. This helps in unimaginably amazing ways.

 

If you go through each day taking care of these little aspects and improving by even 1% on a daily basis, you can reinvent yourself and transform your life.

 

What next?

I will certainly write in-depth posts about each of these aspects in the future. Do you have any suggestions for topics I ought to be writing about? Do you have tips that fellow readers can use to become better versions of themselves? Leave a comment.

 

I’m also starting a newsletter. I’m yet to decide upon the frequency, but the emails will contain blog updates and other doses of inspiration that can help you become a better version of yourself.  This can be via favourite quotes I come across, links to podcasts or YouTube videos I found fascinating. Do subscribe if you feel that is something you’d like to read more about.

 

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