In 2021, we live in the golden age of social mobility. A person born into poverty can (through a combination of ingenuity, determination, and luck) break into the elite 1%. We know this is possible because social media makes it trivial for these success stories to surface and circulate. We know that, at least for now, 80% of all millionaires did not inherit that wealth. Instead, they discovered or created it in their own lifetime. It's a fantastic moment in time. The age of infinity. The age of infinite opportunity.
Mike Tyson once said everything you need to know about starting your own business. “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.” Of course, life can and will throw punches at us from time to time. It is inevitable. The key is how you respond.
Next week, I’ll be joining a panel of Techstars mentors to go deeper into this topic. How does one become more adaptable, resilient, or resourceful despite the stresses of life? We look forward to sharing our strategies and stories, as well as fielding questions.
We were in a pet-friendly hotel in Kansas when the fire alarm went off at 3 AM. Even without her hearing aids in, our 6-year old could hear the defining sound while the alarm light beamed brighter than a flashlight towards our beds. Disoriented, we rounded up and stumbled out the door. A cat in the carrier. A dog that was so nervous he pooped on the floor. A pregnant wife. A kiddo in PJs. And me, trying to remember every detail of what would be a funny story (someday). The move to Oklahoma during Covid19 was not easy, yet we have all lived to tell the tale.
“It shouldn’t have to be so hard!”
Whenever I say (or think) these words, I know that I’ve mentally switched from being resourceful into being the victim.
An example I face every week: writing. I love it so much! It’s creative, helpful to others, and useful for me to process my thoughts. But if I love it so much, why did I stop? Why not write weekly? Or go all-in and publish daily?
It's incredible how much emotional baggage humanity places on certain age milestones. When I was younger, I remembered the birthday cards my aunts and uncles would get when they hit the big 4-0. Humorous as they were, the theme was consistent: they were officially over the hill. It's such a powerful visual that reflected what so many often felt. I grew up in small-town America, where many adults would refer back to their high school years as their glory days.
Spend any time on the Internet attempting to discuss any controversial issue, and you'll eventually get a response similar to the title. It's usually followed by a link or two that defends the other person's position.
Now there is nothing wrong with this approach per se. The person can be legitimately wrong on a topic that needs no debate. And rather than allow the other person to absorb and an inordinate amount of time and energy, a link can contain all the facts and arguments you would have made. In short, this approach is direct, clean, and efficient.
You know you are getting to the good stuff in a conversation when you cause the other person to pause, and the next thing they say is, "damn, that was a great fucking question." I was on a call with my mentor, and I could feel his energy rise, and his voice became more animated. He started to reference example after example from his own experience as he weaved down the rabbit hole, attempting to give me as much detail and nuance as he could. I was barely able to keep up, staying present while jotting notes. Again and again, I asked questions that were just beyond my skills and experience.
Imagine a 1-hour task taking 1-week to complete.
It sounds crazy, but it happens all the time. Research from 2016 claims that people are interrupted 50-60 times during an average workday (about once every 7-8 minutes). Worse, distractions tend to lead to more distractions. That "do you have a minute" coworker question becomes a 20-minute discussion about 2-3 other things. And, oh, by the way, one of them is urgent and needs to be done right now. The distraction rabbit hole runs deep.
Remember that feeling at the end of 2019? It wasn't just a brand new year ahead of us. We had a brand new decade to kick off. Such potential! Such hope! So many New Year's resolutions and goals!
Of course, we all now know the joke. WTF was the point of owning a 2020 planner? By March, the world had turned upside down. Nearly every modern society was forced through a series of dramatic changes. I won't bore you with the details because, well, you lived it. You probably had to significantly alter life as you knew it as well as abandon most (or all?) of those goals.
I love writing (to publish externally) and journaling (to keep private). However, things don't always fall neatly in one bucket. I just finished writing something I had every intention of sharing, but then something in me felt resistance. It was a moment of reflection just for me. And while I'm certain others would find it valuable, nobody else would feel the lesson as deeply as me.
I still benefitted by writing it and processing an experience of my life, but that's where the value probably ended.