Book Review – The Black Swan

There are many different types of books you can read. Some of them provide good life lessons and others help you reflect.

The Black Swan is a great book which helps you generate insights about your life – giving you insights about how to think about the future without living in the past.

Life throws so many curves at people yet they live the future with the lens of their past – Not necessarily the most constructive way to make progress in the future. There is lot of interesting research providing data on how your brain might not be able to see all the different possibilities for the future.

Well written and highly recommended.

Book Review – Gandhi

I must say that I was uneducated on Gandhi as a leader and person before I read his autobiography.

Here are the key things I learned:

  • Foundation of your character is foundation of life – his search of truth is a struggle that he goes with his life and people. It is amazing to see how this serves him in his life and forms the basis of his success in his own way.
  • Can’t be a leader without humilty and connection – it is important to connect with the people that you want to lead. However, it is not something you wake up with one day. You have to make the effort; you have to be able to see the struggles of the people you want to influence. You have to be able to live their life and be empathetic. Gandhi changed the way he lived; he dressed; he ate; he interacted – for the people he believed in. They saw him; they believed him and they followed him.
  • Walls are boundaries as you make them for yourself – you want to see out of box thinking. Look at his life and ideas. While they strike a pattern in some ways – he changed the way people thought about other people; how they influenced them.

Reflections – Escape from Alcatraz

While generally I would write a race report for an event like this. This particular crossing and course gave me so much insights about life that I have decided to share them.

To give everybody the context; Escape from Alcatraz is a very classic race that is also a unique triathlon. A number of people like myself also do the Alcatraz crossing which involves swimming from the island to either Angel Island or Acquatic Park. I ended up doing the crossing more than 4 times last year (twice in each direction) and also did the course once.

Here is what I learned:

  • Nothing is truly impossible – I decided to cross Alcatraz few years ago while showing my mother the view from the shore. She thought that I was joking. She would be rational to say that – I was barely a swimmer. Having little experience in the pool – and generally not comfortable in the water. Ocean swimming would have been far fetched. Why bother?
  • Your enablers and partners are as important as your effort – while I could take credit for all the effort my self; it would have been just impossible to have done it without having great partners and supporters. My first supporter would be my wife. She would let me drive long distance to downtown (could be 2 hour drive each way taking precious weekend time) to the freezing waters of Acquatic Park. Secondly; I found a great group of swimmers at world swim Alcatraz. They swim every Thursday and Sunday; and Coach Pedro makes this difficult swim look like a walk in the park. I don’t think that I would have known what to do without them – it really helped me focus on the core task at hand. While I would have still probably done the crossings without them. It could have easily taken me couple more years.
  • No step is small as long as you are moving forward – you have heard this saying before. I truly say that come to life for me. From my first 5k to the 1000 yards in the pool to my first ironman race. None of these steps were viable when I first started. However, race by race – mile by mile – I did march forward. There were a lot of moments of struggle in the middle but it was important to put that in perspective and keep moving forward.
  • Self awareness is key – there are so many people along the way that decide to live in a parallel universe creating their own sense of reality and success without realizing what is happening to them. The best example in this race for me to watch some swimmers trying to cross the ocean at the very end. They are not necessarily going anywhere since they are not crossing the tide at the right angle. The irony is that they don’t know this. They put their effort and keep working hard. They would run out of energy quickly and would eventually be picked up by a boat. It is critical as you March towards your eventual goal to know where you are going and if you are making progress towards SUCCESS!

Hope that you will put this crossing and course on your bucket list 🙂