On silence, signal and noise

Finding the right degree of networking to sustain

The inspiration behind attempting to write about this article is a bit from computer networks subject, Sijo’s recent tweet and introspection to find the connection between them all.

Stage 1: Silence

When I went for our orientation day session at college on the day 1, I was absolutely clueless. Unaware of what I could gain from the institution, I religiously did the only few tasks that we had — avoid awkward situation with seniors, study the subjects and attend the classes regularly. In many ways I was disconnected from the institution and was unaware of what it had to offer.

This can be visualized as a node in a network, with no links to any other nodes.

The left most node is cut out from the rest

So now it feels quite naturally to get connected right? Let us do that.

Stage 2: Signal

It was in my second semester that I discovered opportunities beyond academics to grow, such as contributing to our tech fest, Excel in its content team, participating in Arts and sports fest, volunteering in the Non-profit called Make A Difference etc. There was an improvement as now I was able to grow in other aspects. Slowly yet gradually many doors started opening up and I was glad I got a chance to get involved in a way.

This may be visualized as the previously zero degree node now having an edge to another active node in the graph.

Connected! But is that the best?

So now we are involved in the network and can see scope to grow. But what other doors are there that I have not explored yet? Let us try a little of everything!

Stage 3: Noise

This is my favorite stage, as I personally was stuck in this point for quite along time. I was glad I had something going but there was always a nagging sensation in my head.

What else am I missing out on?

And so I took a leap of faith and jumped in to every growth opportunity out there! I attempted marketing for Excel (got over my stage fear but lost a lot of time), slowly tried taking on responsibility in Make A Difference (I was driven and wanted to work). Any and every opportunity that came my way, I would seize and try to to give it my best!

This may be visualized as a node that is connected to every other node in the network. A diverse set of experience indeed!

Connected to everything! Hurray!

But what I did not realize is over time, quantity > quality and as responsibilities increase, ability to focus decrease as they start depending on your active involvement.

The pressure is on and expectation is high!

Now this is not what one expected when she jumped in to different opportunities. On one hand, you get a lot of experience in different matters but now they all expect you to specialize and now thats expensive in terms of time and energy.

At this stage, the key is to introspect and decide which of the few do you really want to focus deeply.

Stage 4: Focused Signal

I was extremely involved in Make A Difference and Excel content team that people assumed I would go the full mile and take greater responsibilities because I had the talent. But deep within, I did not feel satisfied as my passion lied in developing others skills and to do so I required freedom in time and shoulders free of responsibility to think and be creative to find ways. I probably did not discover the magic recipe to multi task but I had to bid my farewell.

It was not easy to move apart, but looking back and thinking of the alternate reality where I pursued it, I am grateful for choosing the path I have as now I truly focus on the matters that interest me.

So cut the links. Focus on the few things that you enjoy and are passionate about, lest one becomes the jack of all trades and master of none.

Grow where you wish to root yourself

Don’t get me wrong. You can still be involved in other matters but ensure it does not take away a significant proportion of your time.

So now you are focused in matters you like, and understand how to best transfer your skills for the benefit of the community. Now only one stage remains.

Stage 5: Introspective Silence

This might come to you as a surprise because now we have completed a full cycle!

At this stage, what you need to do is take a break once in a while, look back in how far you have come and appreciate what work you are doing, or think where else your time would be worth spending.

See how others are inter-linked, understand what is changing while what remains constant.

Look at the bigger picture. Try to see how is the matter that you are involved in further involved in the network.Maybe your potential is better translated to output at a higher level you did not previously see. Pivot and try to serve over there.

For example, you might like writing and are contributing to the weekly poster releases of a club but then realize the monthly magazine team is a better challenge for you. If that is the case, try to step over there as the field remains same put the degree of exposure significantly varies.

Look for the new connections that happen and try to see if you can grow by associating over there

How do you do that? By returning to Stage 2 and further exploring the network. You see, the key is to keep filtering and selecting what you like, but remembering that everything is dynamic and the new big thing might arrive tomorrow, in which case be further prepared to shift.

Was this all too much to take in? Take a deep breath and try to understand from the following flow chart:

Continuous Filtering in an ever dynamic playing field is the key

Conclusion

  • It is important to experience silence to appreciate signal.
  • It is also important to feel the signal to crave for the noise.
  • It is quite important that you suffer from the noise to transcend back to the most synchronous signal.
  • But most importantly, one must traverse through the cycle and strive to land on growth scopes that leads you to where you want to be.

I hope you gained some benefit from this idea that I had in mind. I hope we all learn to not follow the crowd but rather think for oneself and strive to improve ourselves by sensibly leveraging our opportunities out there.

Uncovering value in testing times | joelvzach.co | Reach me at howdy@joelvzach.co

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