Thinking in spectrums

Getting things done rubric

It's not good or bad.
It's not right or wrong.
It's not yes or no.
It's not religious or atheist.
It's not Indian or American.
It's not happy or sad.
It's not this or that.
Things in life are never binary, they are multi dimensional, multi layered and on a sliding scale.
And it's not permanent, it's ever changing.
So, stop trying to put things in buckets.
Accept that there is some context behind everything, some nuance to things and if you are curious, there is always something you can learn that will help you understand yourself, others and the universe better everyday.

Things are complex. I say things to refer to people, ideas, feelings, motivations, etc. Our brain likes to simplify things and put them in boxes, it reduces the cognitive load on our mind. But the truth is, everything has nuance, a context and many dimensions and it ranges. If I take myself as an example, to describe myself, I can talk about where I'm from, the many roles I play, I've played in the past, my interests, etc. I'm from India, now live in the US, I'm a father, son, partner, brother, cousin, immigrant, engineer, designer, etc, I like food (prefer indian, south asian of course), music (limited), travelling, trying out new gadgets and so many more characteristics that I can continue exploring forever and a lot that I'm not aware of myself. And the amout of time and energy I put in to playing those roles or pursuing those interests have changed over the years and will continue to change in the future. While I identify with the collective that is an Indian immigrant engineer that captures in broad strokes who I am, and I've done this a lot to people in the past, I've realized that the world and people become a lot more interesting when I engage with curiosity and learn more. There is just so much more to things than I ever realized and when I see the world with a different lens, it looks very different.

Something similar happens at work as well. When you want to present your thoughts on an idea or vote on a decision, a simple yes or no, never really captures the full intent. Yes, it helps unblock decisions and move forward, but it ends up in tiny amounts of unhappiness and a feeling that we were not able to fully express our thoughts. We need to update our language to express our choices in a structure, where we put them in context by expressing the base assumptions, the choices considered and our relative preference of the available choices. This will help everyone involved feel like they were heard and understood and they understand each other much better a well.

I'll end with one more example, which is motivations. Whenever I read a book, I wonder about the journey to make this book a reality, starting with why did the author write this book, why did the publisher choose to publish this book, what were the discussions like: to balance the ideas and content that the author came up with and the profitability of this investment that the publishing company needs to make. What about the marketing plan to sell this book, all the people involved like editors, legal, advertising companies, cover artists, etc that need to get paid, the folks who run the printing presses and everything in between. How is the incentive structure setup for the author and all the stakeholders in this process and how that influences the content in the book. What parts of the book are true to the original vision of the author and what parts are about ensuring the profitability of this venture or serve the agenda of the many stakeholders in the venture. It's not that there is anything wrong with any of those things, but we always see the book as a single narrative, but in reality, it is a collection of narratives, maybe anchored on a central idea, but there are multiple dimensions that influence and morph that central idea.

Everything (including you) is like a universe, full of stars, galaxies, nebulae and black holes and it's constantly changing and trying to understand itself.