Climbing Mountains

One of the challenges I find myself faced with a lot is an inability to recognize and appreciate my successes. I mean, I know they happened, but I find myself already focusing on the next challenge without taking a moment to appreciate overcoming the last one.

Sometimes it seems like before I’ve even reached the summit of one mountain I’m planning the ascent of another.

Problem is, always focusing on the next thing may keep you occupied but it doesn’t necessarily keep you happy.

It’s kind of like Ferris Bueller says: “Life happens fast. If you don’t slow down and look around once in a while you might just miss it.”

Taking the time to appreciate our successes is one of those things that can easily seem useless but is VITAL to our happiness. Like a parent taking some time for themselves or a couple taking the time to go on an actual date after they’ve been together for a while.

It feels unnecessary and frivolous, but in reality it gives us a chance to recharge and refocus.

Think of an athlete or anyone at the gym. You can’t just keep working out all day every day because your muscles need a chance to recover – to get ready for the next round.

In “Startup Life” Brad Feld and his wife Amy talk about the importance of taking an unplugged vacation together on a regular basis.

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Speaking at Ignite Boulder

The Alchemy of Following your Bliss

I was fine until about the 2nd talk before mine. That’s when my heart started speeding up.

Let’s say my heart normally walks along at 90 beats per minute. When that 2nd talk before mine started up my heart rate jumped to what felt like 120 bpm – what you’d normally experience jogging very slowly.

By the time the talk right before mine started I had gotten up to around 140 bpm – about what you feel when you’re sprinting.

When I got up on stage and started talking, I had hit the point where your heart is beating so hard and so fast that you could swear everyone can heAR yoU talkING fuNNY as your heart shoves every other syllable out of your mouth.

But I kept talking. I just kept going because I knew well enough to trust all the rehearsing I’d done and just let it all come out. And it worked – my heart was still beating a million miles an hour, but I was half way through without any major hiccups.

Then I messed up.

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Passion and Purpose

There’s a tremendous amount of pressure in Boulder to be an entrepreneur. It seems like every “what do you do” conversation I’ve heard involves a startup or wishes it did.

And there’s something magical in that, isn’t there? A culture where everyone wants to do something they’re passionate about and few if any want to work for “the man” and climb the corporate ladder?

During this last Ignite Boulder you could count on one hand the number of speeches that didn’t at least mention following your instinct, taking the path less traveled, or flat out quitting your job to follow your dreams.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with all this talk of passion and entrepreneurship, but one thing that worries me is the conversations I’ve had with people who seem to want to be an entrepreneur because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do.

And I believe that’s just as wrong as people going to school and climbing the corporate ladder because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do.

I had a great conversation with a young gentleman who started a business consulting firm. He pointed out something very important: passion alone can’t accomplish much – it requires the context of purpose to be of any real value. His argument was simple and revolved around a story.

Once there was a woman (let’s call her Jan) who worked as a mortgage broker. She was good at it and was paid well enough, but she had no desire to keep going. She thought she needed to leave her job, find her passion, and start a business.

She went to a seminar on finding your passion and by the end of the weekend was feeling flustered and irritated because she couldn’t figure out what to do, what kind of company to start. She spoke with the instructor and relayed her frustration, to which he replied: continue reading…