Birdwatching, a key highlight of 2021 for me. Learning and experience of it went on to help me personally as well as professionally.

By casual observation, I used to feel that there are some 15-20 bird species observable around my house (100-200 meters radius). I didn’t know names of those species or their characteristics. At the start of 2021, equipped with Canon EOS 1500D mounted with 55-200m lense and the Merlin App/Google Lense App and leveraging work from home, I started my Birding/Birdwatching journey.

This is what I observed and what I learned from it:

(1) Observation: Though being very casual, I captured (in camera) 47 species of birds by July 2021. I observed but could not capture Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Common Crow and couple more whose names are unknown to me.

Learning: Gut feel do not give you actual picture. In business and othe critical scenarios, we should not conclude based on gut feel but should analyse based on data.

(2) Observation: I used to capture photo, then use AI in above mentioned app to approximate species and identify by comparing features from trusted resources. Still, for some of the species I took a week for confirmation.

Learning: Technology have come a long way. We need to appreciate the super-capabilities we have today. I tried to imagine a time where Ornithologists had to rely on very big hard bound encyclopaedia and telescope only. (I can’t express the profoundnesses in words. Hope you will imagine and understand.)

(3) Observation: With time, I wanted to get better in names of the species, their characteristics, what are different features of bird called etc. Vocabulary (a bit of it) of the domain helped me interact with content and experts in systematic way. This helped me with the next bird I observed.

Learning: Every domain have its own vocabulary, rules and structure. Getting familiar with it helps us learn better and faster. Otherwise context and coordination takes more time of consumption of content than actually understanding it.(even in meetings 🙂 )

(4) Observation: As I started and continued Birdwatching, slowly my family members too started taking interest. They would ask me to to share my learnings. They would spot birds for me and bring to my attention. Even my 2 year old would spot birds while playing outside or while watching outside window and call me to click photos.

Learning: Our enthusiasm positively affects people around us and they try to participate. When peers actively participate, imparting learnings to each other becomes easy. Learning together is more effective than teaching and our unpretentious demeanour with inquisitive mind can help form community at work.

(5) Observation: Birdwatching became hobby and I started to take out some time for it deliberately. Even when there was a stressful phase and some lingering problems, I could find some time for birdwatching. I would forget the problem for some time and it had rejuvenating effect. That helped me to understand actual priority of problem by having high level view and solve problems efficiently with fresh creative thinking.

Learning: We get fixated on challenges and problems. But defocus and distraction are important to be able to focus with fresh perspective and tackle the problem from new angle. Problems (and even solutions) are a very very small part of our life. Life is beautiful and being aware of it makes us be good and do better at work too.

Many of the very difficult problems have simple solutions and they exist right under our nose. Defocusing the mind once in a while and giving time to ‘unimportant’ things helps.

(You can see all the birds I could capture at https://rupeshghagi.in/category/birds-in-the-neighborhood/)

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