Takeaways from “Peaks and Valleys”

‘Peaks and Valleys: Making Good And Bad Times Work For You–At Work And In Life’ is a book written by Dr. Spencer Johnson. It is a short and relevant read when you are feeling very low or when you are at the peak of your life.

First of all, we need to understand that life can not be a flat or an upward sloping graph, it is undulating. Life is full of highs and lows. The ideal curve is when you don’t go down too much but you trace up too high; that is when you’re going to be scaling up your life.

We tend to feel sorry for ourselves when we hit the valley but that is the time to appreciate the opportunities coming our way, working hard, and learning from our mistakes. Now, if you are wondering as to why people face crashes after reaching the zenith, it is because they feel invincible and are consumed in arrogance.

Change your perspective, work relentlessly and never forget to Invest In Yourself. Keep climbing until you reach the mountain peak. Imagine the view from there!


How can you retain what you have studied?

Finding it difficult to retain the details of the topics you covered last week? You are not alone! With so many distractions around, one tends to lose focus and ends up forgetting what they studied.

Here are a few tips you can use to retain what you study:

  • WRITE– Develop the habit of writing and making short notes as you study
  • FORGETTING CURVE– Re-visit or revise a chapter with an interval of 45 days, it helps the brain to retain the information
  • FEYNMAN TECHNIQUE– Explain the topic to yourself like you would explain it to a 6th- grade student
  • VISUALISE– Strip the topic down to its bare basics and try visualising it as study
  • ONE SOURCE– Try avoiding multiple sources for information
  • FOCUS– Study at a stretch for 3-4 hours at least, to develop your energies to focus on one thing
  • LIFESTYLE– Follow a more routined and disciplined lifestyle to make the days even more productive

A detailed note is available in your ‘Class App’!


Biography of E. Sreedharan- The lessons I learnt from the Karmayogi.

Karmayogi is the inspiring story of E. Sreedharan, the much-admired engineer and technocrat who was instrumental in the construction of the Delhi and Calcutta metro. E. Sreedharan had 25 transfers in 15 years of his career, and yet he was unaffected by it. He was a man of principles with a strong value system, always calm, composed and consistent.

The main takeaway from reading the biography is his life experiences, what difficulties he went through, how he tackled every situation, and what the outcome of all those situations was.

The book explains to its reader five golden principles- integrity, professional competence, making quick decisions, staying healthy, and being punctual. It also talks about workplace conduct and listening to your superiors as they have more experience.

According to an IIM Ahmedabad study, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) attributes its success to organisational values imbibed in the workforce, their impeccable technical expertise, their unflinching social commitment and their keenness to learn from their mistakes.

The DMRC was not built overnight likewise, one should not expect immediate results and should instead focus on the long term. Stand up for yourself and adhere to your value system.


How to get into the Habit of Reading

It’s great that many people have adopted the practice of reading because of my constant pestering.

In this blog, I’ll quickly cover

  • Why it’s essential to read,
  • Why summaries are not equal to reading a book (or watching the movie adaptation)
  • How to choose a book and push yourself to read
  • How to study a book.

Why should you read?

If you browse through any blog or article about the habits of successful people, you will see that ‘reading’ always tops the list.

You will begin gaining multiple perspectives from the books you read. For instance, reading Winning by Jack Welch, who has 41 years of experience as the CEO of General Electric, will provide you with an insight into his experiences and mistakes, and guide you in your ways of life.

Learning from others’ mistakes will steepen your learning curve; revving up your pace, as maybe your fifth mistake would be their first.

Coming to

How do you choose the right book?

If you are just starting, choose relevant books to ensure that it is engaging and not preachy.

For example, I will not be going for Robin Sharma books when I start because that would be a little too heavy or something I wouldn’t enjoy initially. Instead, I would prefer a compilation of business stories or interesting biographies on personalities I find intriguing.

I specialize in Finance, but would like to read and understand different genres. Keeping variety in mind, I have picked up the Blue Ocean Strategy for management; Winning by Jack Welch for productivity; Four-hour work week and Richest Man in Babylon  for personal finance.

Evidently, I keep switching between genres and varieties to help me stay stimulated.

I have a habit of reading two or three books at a time, and that is a very personal choice.

However, when it comes to fiction, I would rather watch it instead of picking up a book on it as I believe reading anything should add value to my life and career.

You can select a book depending on the career you are in. For example, if you are in the field of investment or marketing, go through multiple online listicles that suggest books, surf through them, notice which names emerge multiple times, go through its description and if you like it, start! This is exactly how you zero in on a book to read.

Now, how should you read a book?

When you are reading a book, it is important to make notes and underline the key points because once you complete it, you won’t be able to retain everything laid out in those many pages. Write action points so that even after a year or two, you can easily refer to the points and put them into your action plan.

I feel the traditional way of reading (hard copies) is better because it is convenient.

Also, reading should be done at a stretch and not for short spans. If you are taking frequent breaks, it won’t be worth it because you’ll always have to retrace to connect the dots. So, if I’m reading a chapter on leadership, I’ll complete that before taking a break.

How can you make it a habit?

If you want to do something productive, you’ll have to gather all your energies and compel yourself to commit to it.

Second, the moment you’re done with a third of a book, especially fiction, you will be completely glued to it; the same with sitcoms.

This makes it pretty clear that one has to complete a specific chunk of a book to get hooked on it.

Third, if you read right, there is a long-term benefit; the knowledge you get and the life lessons learned are incomparable.  People pay millions to benefit from the wisdom of the likes of Warren Buffet, and here you are getting all of it from the confines of a book.

Fourth, it would help if you set a target. For example, one book a month and so on, and there’s no substitute for reading because you have to concentrate and read. In contrast, while watching television, you use your mobile phones several times and are easily distracted.

A good reading speed is also very essential, no matter what profession you are in. This can only be attained by making reading a practice and committing yourself to the task.

Why is reading the summary not the same as reading the book?

There is no shortcut to success; or anything else, to be honest!!

Let me throw some light on this. Consider the book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. Now, even if I jot down the seven habits for you, you won’t be able to implement them in the right way. On the other hand, the multiple instances and vivid illustrations by the author make it easier for you to adopt and implement the habits in a manner they should be.

The videos I make for the books are not summaries but more of a discussion regarding what the book is about, the key takeaways and the action points. These are intended to provide you with a teaser, so you are intrigued enough to pick up that book. If you want to grow and progress in a more planned way, keep reading and updating yourself, and gather knowledge through the first means – books!

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