23 May 2012

Velocity by Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander

New mantras for a new age
At first this book made me nervous because it put emphasis on Speed and Acceleration as abilities ‘the new atmosphere’ (the one thrown up by ‘a world gone digital’) requires us to master.
I prefer an unhurried pace of existence and even the thought of being forced to move fast by forces beyond my control makes me giddy. But as I read, there was so much wisdom in its concepts – and so much that struck me as good and true – that I soon became a raving fan. After all, the other two abilities it endorses are Direction and Discipline – my favourites, actually.

I became who I am from reading stuff like I’m OK You’re OK and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (Can I call them self-help books? Or would that evoke a great gnashing of teeth by the stakeholders of this one? On the other hand maybe it’s ok: I’ve heard self-help books outperform every other genre many times over in India. What a sweet, earnest and well-intentioned people we are!)

gives us seven laws that
recommend new ways of thinking and behaving. What I liked was that these ‘new ways’ are very often very old ways – stuff we really should have been doing all along in the interests of long-term thinking and sustainability, but somehow forgot.
Along with specifics of new situations that the modern world presents, there is a focus here on ethical, goal-oriented, action-oriented thought and behaviour. In a world of confusing choices, I felt reassured that these were being held up as precepts for success.

For instance:
Wondering which half of your ad spend is wasted? Velocity says, “Wrong question. Try again.” Instead of just interrupting people, serve them and make them feel something. Sorry, but that takes longer than thirty seconds.
Velocity will disproportionately reward organizations and individuals that aim to make a meaningful and enduring contribution. ...
Do the right thing: always play from your heart.
Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should.
The line that struck me most was held out as a guide to Design, borrowed from the value system of the Byzantine monks of yore:
Balance, gentleness, absence of haste and clarity of spirit.
And that's when I realised that it was the idea of haste that had worried me to start with, and not the idea of speed.

Another thing I liked about this book is the uncluttered way it’s laid out, which makes reading and absorbing concepts easier than in closely-fitted text. And one of the clever things it does to avoid the monotony of long theoretical passages is to break them up into shorter ones by having each of the co-authors speak alternately.

Buy this book and read it. More important, practice what it teaches – it will work towards bringing you lasting happiness and peace – and making the world a better place too.

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