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Sanctum (by Faisal Khan) - "Conversations" Issue #10

Digital Sanctum
Dear Reader,
This week’s newsletter is all about conversation & storytelling.
However, first I’m compelled to write about Palestine as it is important. With the recent Israel government terrorism waged on the people of Palestine, any condemnation or critique of Israel is termed as being an Anti-Semitic remark. I invite you to read on what antisemitism means and how the government of Israel abuses the word, labeling anyone as an anti-Semitic person who challenges the wrongful doings by the state of Israel.
Let me be very clear. I have many Jewish friends. I have many Israeli friends. But what I don’t have is sympathy for anyone who blatantly just turns a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the state and claims - this is the right to defend oneself.
I am known in my circle as someone who despises politics and does not talk about religion, but when wrong is being done, one must have the moral courage to stand up.
Every voice counts. Don’t abuse the label.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Peace!

Dinner with a story.
Not a stock photo but actually our house, ready for hosting a couple for dinner.
Not a stock photo but actually our house, ready for hosting a couple for dinner.
Many years ago, I read this quote
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt
It changed my perspective. What happens when we stop talking about politics, or religion, and especially gossip?
The short answer: enlightenment (of sorts) begins.
So bear with me. My wife and I love hosting small dinners. We both love to cook, so having friends for dinner is something we love to do. One house rule for the table: No phones, no gossip talk, no political discussions and, no religious preaching. Let us talk about great events and ideas. Whilst they may seem really clichéd we did improvise on it.
Now when we host small dinners, we make it a point to let our guests know, that they would be having a 5-course meal, and the next course only comes when a person on the dinner table tells a short story and then we move on to the next course.
Cheesy you say? Meh you say? Ummm awkward moment you say?
Au contraire, the idea has been extremely welcoming and successful. Dinner conversations are much more enlightening and not to mention memorable. We all walk away from dinner that day, feeling happy. Humans, as far as we can go back, are storytellers, and this is what we do best. Eliminate the gossip or petty talk from your dinner table and you will find yourself pleasantly surprised.
If the idea seems alien or off, don’t let that discourage you. If you can have Pictionary nights, or one-dish parties, or baby showers, etc. you can also very well have an engaging conversation and story-telling time at the dinner table. 
Try it out. We certainly did. 
How to Speak?
This was a lecture given by the late Dr. Patrick Winston of MIT on “How to Speak”. One of those beautiful lectures preserved for us to see and listen to can change our lives. This one-hour lecture can do just that.
How To Speak by Patrick Winston
How To Speak by Patrick Winston
Circle of Concern, Influence, and Control
If you were to zoom back on any given day and look back at your conversations, you will see for a vast majority of the people, end up devoting most of their time to things that they should be concerned about, but things that do not immediately and directly improve their lives.
This is best illustrated by a concept known as the circles of concern, influence, and control.
Circles of Concern, Influence, and Control.
Circles of Concern, Influence, and Control.
Circle of Concern: The weather, global warming, the increase in crime in the neighborhood, the economic inequality, the national increase in obesity, etc. These are all things you should be concerned about and you should be spending the least about of time on this.
Circle of Influence: Making someone quit smoking, tell your kids to study for their tests, making someone go to the gym. Telling someone to pursue their dreams, etc. These are all the things where you can influence someone. You can’t actually make them do it. But you certainly can influence them and change the output. In comparison to the circle of concern, you should be spending considerably more time of your day on this circle. Help others achieve their desired outcome.
Circle of Control: These are things you directly have control over. If you want to quit smoking, you can. Others can influence you, but the actual task has to be done by you. Have an exam, you have to study. Want to build muscle, you have to go to the gym. In the circle of control, it is all about me, my and I. You directly control the outcome. Compared to the other circles, you should be spending most of your time in this circle.
What did you learn recently?
A few days ago, I asked on twitter…
One of the most amazing answers was this:
Everything is relative. There is no perfection. It is just about keep trying until your time is up.
h/t Hamza
Positive state of mind matters.
Positive State of Mind
Positive State of Mind
The brain works up to 31% better just by being in a positive frame of mind.
31% — think about that! That’s no small jump. You make yourself 31% smarter just by being in a positive state of mind.
That’s science yo!
Difficult Conversations
Having difficult conversations.
Having difficult conversations.
A lot many situations in life that cause you to stress is because you are not ready to have difficult conversations. You are either not ready, or you are afraid of them (because of the perceived outcome) and hence you run away from them. You avoid such conversations.
  • Want to say No to a friend but cannot?
  • Want to tell your best friend what you really think of her actions?
  • Want to tell your daughter that her behavior is not welcoming?
  • Want to tell your parents you are gay but don’t have the guts to do so?
  • Want to tell your mother that she is wrong when it comes to your wife?
  • Want to tell your client, he is being rude?
  • Like someone but afraid she might say no or laugh it off?
  • Going out with someone and now you think it was a big mistake?
  • Want to tell your boss he is being an asshole?
  • Want to tell your coworker that he is the reason why everyone is getting punished?
  • Want to say no to someone asking for a bribe?
  • Want to tell your colleague that she is using tits and ass to her advantage?
  • Want to cancel your engagement but are afraid of what others might say?
  • Want to tell your teacher that he is biased?
  • Want to tell your friend, that he owes you money and he needs to pay it up?
  • Want to tell your friends to stop making fun of lesbians, because your sister is one?
  • Want to tell your employee that he has to be let go off, but you cannot because they are so nice? 
All these are difficult conversations. Conversations like these are, well as the name implies, difficult. They are uncomfortable. They shake the ‘normal’ fabric of life, but inside not having the conversation will eat you up inside like termites. The self-dislike will increase every day. Every day that goes by, when you do not have these difficult conversations, the situation gets worse and the other side wins.
In many cases, we are looking for people to spot us in having a difficult conversation, but in life, you will rarely be given such opportunities. Learn to have these conversations. They might be awkward, but usually, there are not. They are pretty easy to have. The initial hesitation is what prevents them from happening. What the other person might say? Well, you will find out. Stop speculating about it. Just have it. You might not win the conversation. You might not let it out the way you have imagined it. But you will have crossed the bridge. It will give you a little bit of added self-confidence. 
Five rules to follow:
  1. Ask the other person for a day and time, and let them know you wish to have a difficult conversation with them.
  2. At the anointed time, take a cue card with you, with your points written out. Tell them to be patient to listen to you for 7 minutes, and not say anything.
  3. Briefly read your points out.
  4. Make sure you have your call to action, clearly defined. You are having this difficult conversation because you want them to know something, make sure that message is very clearly delivered.
  5. Thank them for the time and patience in listening to you. 
These difficult conversations are very easy conversations to have, once you’ve had enough of them. Only the first few ones are difficult to overcome as a hurdle to progressing forward. 
As a mentor once said: “Without difficult conversations, there is no going forward in life.”
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Faisal Khan
Faisal Khan @babushka99

Digital Sanctum: For 30 plus years, I've been thinking of launching a newsletter, a mailing list of sorts. Over the years, I've collected and curated over 125,000+ web links. Information/stuff that I find worthy to share. This is my newsletter to share all that. Its not focused on any 'one' thing and it is not associated with my professional field of banking and payments. It is a weekly read that has information that one would consider fun, interesting, etc. to read. I hope you subscribe and come along for the ride.

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