Ten minutes a day to learn something new

If you work in an evolving industry, it is likely that you have experienced the imposter syndrome at some point. Working in the tech sector, I certainly did.

In layman’s terms, it is the self-doubt that makes you feel that your success has been largely due to luck and not competency. This, despite your track record showing otherwise.

For more on imposter syndrome, check out this post titled “Feel like a fraud?…

Irrespective of the field you work in, there are always things that you don’t know. And, if you are in a public-facing role, you live in fear of the day when you get exposed for not knowing things that, you think, others expect you to know. For instance, working in the cloud and security space, I worried about not knowing enough about equivalent products and services offered by Amazon and Google — products that have seen high adoption rates in the market.

However, when it comes to imposter syndrome, the good news is that you are not alone. As per this post on Fast Company, the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, actress Natalie Portman, and Howard Schultz, Executive Chairman of Starbucks have all admitted to living with the fear of failure and feeling undeserving of the success they have achieved.

Over the years, I arrived at a compromise: Be absolutely sure of what you know so that you can confidently admit to what you don’t.

And, spend ten minutes a day to learn something new.

That seemed to work for me. Betting on learning has yet to fail me.

I use the terms “ten minutes” and “learn” loosely. I do not want to convey the impression that I am only talking about work-related stuff. On the contrary, most of the things that I randomly pick to “learn” are not related to work.

Occasionally, I get asked, why? To them I say, why not?

So here are a few of the things that I recently spent some time to learn.

A fifteen-minute meal that I can actually cook in fifteen minutes.

I will be the first to admit that I have never been much of a cook.

After watching Jamie Oliver cooking his fifteen-minute meals on TV, I figured if Jamie can do it in fifteen, I should be able to do it in thirty. So, I bought his 15 Minute Meals recipe book and started experimenting. For now, what I am supposed to be able to cook in fifteen minutes, takes me an hour, or more.

But one of these days, I will come up with that one dish which I can cook in fifteen minutes.

A ten-minute workout routine that I can do at home without going to the gym.

I love sports but I hate working out.

Unfortunately, you can’t play sports to stay fit, you stay fit to play sports. So I did a little digging. You would be amazed at the number of hits a simple search for a “ten-minute workout at home” will get you. I landed on a — paired down — routine that I can actually do. Armed with a few dumbbells and a yoga mat, I have embarked on a fitness journey to get me back in shape after a prolonged absence from the squash court.

Time will tell.

Hit a backhand trickle boast squash shot that I never could.

You could say that I had a late start with squash.

Switching from tennis to squash, the one shot that I never learned to hit is the backhand trickle boast — a deceptive offensive shot that is played at the front of the court. Take a look at the video above and you will know what I am talking about.

This one is going to take more than ten minutes of practice.

Figure out foodie terms that until now I pretended to understand

I find food shows on TV relaxing.

But when Anthony Bourdain, and MasterChef Canada contestants start describing what they are cooking, I only understand half of it. Considering that I frequently eat out, I figured that it’s only fair that I make an effort to understand what I am actually ordering in a restaurant. Confit, coulis, compote… terms that you think you know but are not quite sure you do.

Now I can use my newly acquired knowledge and opt to go “Omakase” and leave it all up to the chef.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Fundamentals.

I have been planning to do this for a while.

If you are not in IT or telecom, most likely you think of Amazon as a giant retailer — what with Prime and all. However, over the past few years Amazon has become one of the largest providers of what is referred to as “public cloud infrastructure” services. I have finally managed to get a rudimentary understanding of AWS equivalents of Infrastructure as a Service.

EC2, S3, Serverless Computing…, anyone?

Learn how to get free credit reports

Ok, so this one happened by accident.

When the bank called to warn me that I may be the target of identity theft, I was concerned. The person who called in to the bank, pretending to be me, had provided them most of my personal information but was stumped when asked to answer security questions that I had set up. I had to make sure that no one else had leveraged my credit history to take out loans or mortgages in my name. Working with TransUnion and Equifax, I was able to determine that my profile had not been duplicated. Through the whole interaction, I figured out that you can get free credit reports from each of the agencies once a year. It takes less than ten minutes to apply for one.

If you are interested, you can follow this link to get your free credit report from TransUnion.

Make Google Home do more

I must admit, Google Home has made my life easier.

It is my go-to for a number of routine things like reminders, game lookups, weather checks, phone calls, and Roomba. However, as the app evolves, I find that more features have been added, some of which could come in handy once I figure them out. The ambient noise of rain is a nice touch, and I am sure that at some point, I will definitely use the “find my phone” feature.

Here is a post from Business Insider that shows a number of the newer features.

As I log off, I realize that ten minutes a day to learn something new may sound like a lot. But remember, you are not on the clock, nor is anyone tracking you. 

Give it a shot.

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Dax Nair

Dax is a marketer of cloud and security solutions with varied interests in technology, travel, food, racquet sports, and blogging.

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