Sometime in the second half of 2018, during my road trip to SRS Hills, I was riding through Ragihalli state forest. I looked at the map once before entering the forest and I started riding. I continued riding through quaint villages and muddy roads. Greeted by the kids playing by the road, it was a joyride. I didn’t stop anywhere and zoomed past the kids and the villages and numerous small boulders. My watch tick-tocked for over 30 minutes. Ideally, I should be on the main road by then but I was riding on some random road.
I stopped and looked at the map and realized I rode 15 KMs on the wrong road and will have to turn around. While the wrong turn brought the smiles of kids and quaint countryside, it didn’t matter in the journey to SRS Hills. While such random explorations are fine in the travelling world because every new place brings its charm. But when you’re dealing with something as serious as changing the world for better, you cannot take such random unfruitful explorations.
Looking back, this one wrong turn taught me a valuable lesson in how I should deal with goals and explorations in my own life. There are fundamentally two different things that we do in life. First one is working towards a goal. Like preparing for a full marathon or Mt. Everest expedition. Second is an exploratory mission to learn a discipline, like my current journey of understanding the circular economy. Both of them need such a different mindset and approach which I learned from such wrong turns I described above. Read on to know more.
Working Towards A Goal
When I set out to ride to SRS Hills alone, my target or goal was just to do that. That wrong turn however joyful didn’t make me move forward towards that goal. Instead, I lost precious time and resources. Similarly, when you’re focusing on achieving a goal, your entire focus and effort should be in that direction. You cannot afford to divert your focus and go on random unwanted explorations.
Not only they drain out the resources like time and effort. But they also give you a false sense of accomplishment. If anything, we should always stay away from false accomplishments. Accomplishments that aren’t real but give you that dopamine hit. So you’ll end up thinking you achieved something when in reality it actually did more harm.
So always focus to be on the right path. Establish a continuous feedback loop to give you a sense of TRUE progress and not the dopamine hit of false accomplishments. You can go a little slow if it helps but being on the right road matters more than anything.
On a total contrarian note, explorations need a different mindset. I am a big an of explorations. Be it random trails on the journey or treks, but also in life. For most of my life, I focused on multiple disciplines. Often even switching from one to another. But I barely accomplished anything. Like I mentioned above, a directionless exploration doesn’t result in making any meaningful progress.
On the contrary, my explorations gave me a glimpse of what other disciplines even look like. For example, reading financial statements of various companies for my investing journey, helped me understand the day-to-day decisions we took at Ather Energy. It helped me get a broader picture of what’s happening at the CXOs level.
So you gotta be open-minded and not afraid to ride on wrong roads when you’re exploring. You’re not looking for specific results when you’re exploring. You’re learning or absorbing whatever comes your way.
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This is post no.31 in the weekly blog post series. You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org for any feedback or collaboration. Alternatively, you can drop me a DM on Instagram.