Life’s hack to cut the crap

4 min readMay 14, 2019

The world is getting complex, or at least it seems so to me. One of the big problems is information. Too much of information, when a non-news becomes a news, commonplace events are blown out of proportions, and almost everyone wants a piece of the excitement. The 24-hours news channels, (almost) free internet, cheap to nothing data, and ample time with a large populace of India only adds to the misery.

I grew up hearing — time is money. Well, I don’t think that it’s true anymore. It’s not time, but attention which is money.

Attention, and not time, is money.

And don’t even think that time is same as attention. Just to offer a simple case. You might be driving a car while talking to someone on phone! Here’s your time and attention splitting. Further, as you grow old, you still got some time post retirement, but not so much of attention, let alone from others.

What has helped me to cut through this crap is this simple heuristics — I call it ITC (Ignore, Tolerate, Confront). Any situation that poses to you, especially a situation involving a person, try ignoring it at first, if you can’t, learn to tolerate it and if it persists, then and only then confront it. Let me explain.

Learn to ignore stuff, and be selective in your attention

You need to learn to pick your battles. It’s not that you can win them all, but rather ask yourself every time — is it worth it?

Someone cutting you on the drive — ignore and move on. Someone passing a comment or two — ignore and move on. Someone writing a nasty email or a comment on social media — ditto!

Your attention is mandated only under the condition that the event is recurring and the person is known, only then the stake become high. If it’s a one time event and the person close to a stranger — just move on.

Don’t burn your attention onto people or events who are chance episodes in your life. This will also tide over.

What you need to develop above all is a thick skin. So, to learn to ignore, and

Have a thick skin.

Tolerate what you can’t overlook

Now, I don’t want to be politically correct here. And if you have come thus far, you are not a great fan of that either.

Look for a moment at the diversity that we are amidst. Cultural, educational, ethnic, religious, regional, economic, political et al., and on top of it, a myriad of opinions in real and virtual worlds. There is just no point in correcting perspectives anymore, for everyone is entitled to have one. Look at Brexit and election of Donald Trump for instance! Pundits were all proven wrong, again.

The problems in the Middle East, in the USA and Europe, and more recently, down under and in Sri Lanka could well be attributed to intolerance. Proving someone wrong, by force. Now, that’s a different proportion, but even on a daily basis, you need to develop a greater tolerance.

There is tremendous amount of mediocracy all around. No point in correcting people. Be the one whom you admire, if others care they would follow, and till such time, at least you are happy in your skin! So, take it easy.

The more tolerant you are better would be your vital signs (read blood pressure) and your social acceptance (if you care about). But at least you would have more time and attention to focus on a narrow set of things that really matter. In summary,

Don’t try correcting people.

Confront only if you can make a difference

Finally, confront selectively. Only under the condition that the person or the event is repetitive in nature and ignoring or tolerating only worsens your situation. The key operative here is ‘your’. Once again, pick your battles selectively, where you know that you can make a real difference to the outcome.

My father always tells me “don’t bet on a horse which you don’t ride”.

In other words, confront where you have the ability and intent to change the course of action and that can only happen what you are passionate about the purpose.

Most people (including ones closer to you, or maybe more so), are very uncomfortable being confronted. And so are you! So, use this device selectively, and be clear about the intent (as much as possible).

Choose wisely who you critique.

Listen, you are here not to teach anyone a lesson. You are here to lead a life, preferably purposeful. Keep your purpose personal and clear in your head at all times and cut down any distraction, whatsoever.

Here’s the ITC for you, something I try sticking to:

Ignore the strangers >> Tolerate the idiosyncrasies of those around >> Confront the rare ones, rarely.

Keep a steady eye on what’s your objective and go at it.




Innovation Evangelist and author of the book, Design Your Thinking.