19 Oct Observation: The Best Learning Technique
Cricket is a game that I started playing recently. I have no formal coaching in cricket but I used to be glued to the TV screen during a cricket match. I would spend the entire day observing the different kinds of shots, the unique style of every player, running between the wickets, and their fielding skills. I always wanted to play cricket for my school. I used to imagine how would I play for my school, the jersey I would be in, the story I could share with all my friends, and most importantly the feeling I would have.
Finally, I took up cricket on a serious level in my 1st year of college. I would observe people play for days at a stretch, thanks to the early elimination of our team from many tournaments. Though eliminated, my father and I would still go to the ground and collect advice from onlookers on what I did wrong and where I could improve.
Whatever today I am as a player of cricket, all of it came from –
Observing, implementing, failing, and again observing!
At Enterprise, I did the same. I was learning through the medium of projects but simultaneously, I made sure that I was also learning through observing. I feel very happy and privileged that I saw a startup grow, sensed, and felt the emotions they went through and learned as much as I could in the process.
Tinker Fest, was one of the very first projects where I got hands-on experience in many different aspects of an event/workshop. I got a taste of the different aspects all at once, thanks to our small team. My mentor, Aditya Jhunjhunwala (we call him ADI), always told us this that we are privileged that we get to work in such small teams because this is where maximum learning happens. I agreed to it then but I went on to experience it first-hand when I started working in bigger teams where my role was specified just to 1 or 2 domains.
We had decided to do the 3rd round of Tinker Fest on 12th January 2020. During this process, while planning and discussing our event, Adi brought up an important point. That point has had a lasting impact on me. He said, “ Sometimes when you are working on something whether it may be a product, college project or whatever, there will be times where you’ll be the only person driving it. It certainly will be tough, it might take a toll mentally, you might even question why you’re doing this altogether. This question is important, it is going to lead you to the reason why you took it up in the first place.
He again asked me,
He goes on to add that, many times in life, you will have to be the one who has to put in the energy, put in the effort, bear all the stress and stigma but once we gain momentum, there’s no looking back. People shall themselves join in once they see some action, some momentum going on.”
This I even observed happening right in front of my eyes in my project and knew from what perspective ADI was speaking. I had experienced it and that’s why I could relate to it.
I am someone who loves to be a part of big groups, be it sports, college, or school projects, projects outside. This trait has gotten into me because in larger groups the responsibility gets shared and so does the fear of failure. Honestly, I had this fear for a large part of my life but now I can say that I’ve overcome it.
Regret, not having a regret 5 years down the line is what drives me. It acts as a driving factor in whatever I am doing, something new that I take up, or whenever I feel down and out. This has lead me to a mentality where I take up anything and everything that comes in my direction. I get fully involved and then after a while, there comes a situation where some things start missing out, deadlines are not met and personal development does not take place. The crux of the whole problem is that the role that I play in that project is not clear in my head. I exactly need to know what all fundamental things I need to take care of and once completed, I can contribute in different ways in different departments.
I realized this when I observed this myself. Adi, when he was redesigning Enterprise, used to brainstorm on what his role should be in Enterprise. I saw him talking to a lot of people and understanding their perspective on what his role should be. More importantly, he had a bank full of experience where he had donned different kinds of roles, learned from it, took up some new roles, and even let go of some. I saw how he started turning his focus on the marketing of Enterprise. He got people on board for video editing, content writing, social media, and also a person who would stay in touch with the potential customer and explain what the product is.
Don’t take me wrong but I am not implying in any way that you just work only on what your role asks you to. You indeed give more and more but the role clarity helps in understanding what fundamental stuff you need to take care of before you take up something else. This has been a life-changing observation for me!
In my first year of college, I had applied to get into the Supra team. For those of you who don’t know, the Supra team makes Formula 5 race cars. National as well as international level competitions take place where they judge you not only on the vehicle’s endurance but also on its hypothetical business model. I gave the exam, was interviewed, and finally selected. I was elated because this was the first good thing that had happened to me in college. I worked for a month on this team and then took a break. This was the biggest mistake I made because that break never ended. 2 months in, I did not even show up at our workshop. I used to excuse myself with reasons that I’ll join after the current task at hand gets over etc. Now, 3 months down the line, my interest reached a zero point, I just wanted to leave and move on. This is how I left the team.
A similar experience happened in my 2nd year. But in my 3rd year, I knew the pattern had to change because it was high time. I saw how Adi was working on restructuring Enterprise, a startup in an initial phase and also keeping up with the normal day to day functioning. Projects and sessions are an integral part of Enterprise and they always happened. There was no change in that aspect. Taking a break was not an option. The momentum should never be broken. And it never was. This made me realize how important momentum is and how it should be carefully and thoughtfully managed.
Even while writing this blog, I was lost in between and it became too big a task to complete a lot of things at once. I’ve realized that I need to keep the momentum afloat by breaking up the work into small tasks.
Learning through observing has been a very vital aspect of my life. I feel it has become a part of my system now. Wherever I go, whatever I do, it always plays its role subconsciously. This blog was a quest to reflect on the impact of ‘learning by observing’ on my life.