Monday, June 30, 2014

Conversations: 1

Half year gone - should I repeat the cliche that time's flying - and I am on the threshold of a new thing. A new 100 days plan will be handy, and I intend to set this in motion from tomorrow. Let things change and fast.

So, here is the last six months: Our plan to get the business off the ground with a strategy that we decided upon late last year has failed. Focusing on one territory and a couple of partners was a risky plan - I did foresee this bit but didn't win the argument - and rather predictably, when this under-delivered, we were out of time. I spent a great amount of time as an Adjunct Tutor, feeling claustrophobic and waiting for a miracle, but kept my already overdrawn bank account on a life-support. And, towards the end of a rather tentative, but boring, six months, things started coming together in the form of interesting ideas and interesting projects. I am just on time to make a fresh start.

It is not that I have not achieved much in the last six months. I always planned to achieve the Chartered Marketer status with Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) but managed to do my CPDs only very unevenly for several years. The last two years were different: I did focus on this and finally got to the stage when I can get to the top membership grade. I don't intend to get back to a formal marketing career anymore (though serendipitous that my journey has been, who could tell) but it is still a conclusion of a long-standing commitment. 

I have also discovered a new interest, which I shall now focus upon: Ethics. I have been studying this, on and off, through a few MOOCs. I did Michael Sandel's course on Justice first, and then Peter Singer's course on Practical Ethics. These two courses together led to my reading various books, including Professor Sandel's and Professor Singer's books accompanying the courses. Now, I am planning to do a short project of making a reading list and reading them over the next 100 days. 

This project started off well as I completed an eminently readable 'Created from Animals', James Rachels' presentation of what I have come to understand as 'Darwinian Ethics'. Indeed, this is a revelation as I had a different conception of what Darwinian Ethics may mean, the dog-eat-dog conception of the world. Rachels' book presents the development of Darwinian thought and clearly points out its paradigm shifting nature, such as the questions it raises about human dignity and the place of humans in the world. I could not have chosen a better starting point in my endeavor to read moral philosophy.

I also decided to live my life differently, and writing these short, daily notes, under the heading 'Conversations', is one of the things I intend to do. The idea is to capture what I did the last day, the conversations or thoughts I had, and anything I would have done towards moving forward with my life. This may sound incredibly pretentious, but my objectives are modest: I am expecting this period, the next 100 days or so, to be incredibly important in my life, and an honest, reflective account may help me in similar inflection points that I may indeed have to face at different times in the future. I could have written a diary, but I am so used to writing it this way, here on this blog. Besides, when I conceived this blog, this was supposed to be my scrapbook of ideas. That moment has come.

In the next few days, my plan centers around three things: First, to practice a new way of living, which includes writing these short notes publicly, presenting a transparent account of what I am thinking and doing. Second, to decide on what I do next. One thing I know (and have written about): I want to give up teaching. I am certain that teaching within a traditional environment gives me nothing, except the money I need, and I am confident that I can do better things to earn money than teaching. I have therefore started several conversations for projects that may replace my teaching duties: Some of these will require me to spend more time in Asia, just as I want to do. I want to finalise on one of these opportunities as soon as I can, and get working on it. Third, I want to clear a significant backlog of work that I have accumulated over the last couple of months, and bring my current commitments, particularly that of teaching, to a close. This will mean some frantic work in the next two weeks, but this is what I intend to do, starting today. 

I am looking forward to this journey-within-a-journey and hopefully, this will be a good story to tell.

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How To Live

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Last Words

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

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