What Startup Life Has Taught Me

Live in the moment. Seize the day. Life is short.

Feel free to add your own. There is no shortage of phrases that remind us to be present. To be mindful. We can recite them, sure. But how often are we really, truly, practicing them?

Now, I’ve always conceptually understood the directive live in the moment. Yoga is one of my favorite ways to decompress. More than one class has been dedicated to the thought that there is only now. However, I’ve always had trouble with it in implementation. You see, I am a planner. A lister. I will not buy an agenda planner that has six months of one year and goes six months into the next. It is not enough forward for me.  I find comfort..err..control in planning. In knowing what will happen next. Even if it is only an illusion. Now offers no safety net. No forward, no backward. No promise of the future, no base from the past. Every second counts. There’s no time for an off day. I’ll start saving the emergency fund next week. NOPE! It’s uncomfortable.

Over the last few months, I have come to understand living in the moment in a more visceral way. Working at a startup has pushed me squarely into ‘the here and now’ and because of it, I feel like I have grown — personally and professionally in just a short period of time. The definition of a startup as told in Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi is “a business that operates under extreme conditions of uncertainty.” Extreme conditions are terrifying. Uncertainty is too. Together, formidable. But extreme conditions also produce amazing, sometimes unexpected, outcomes. Do you know what forms at high temperatures (at least 2000 degrees Fahrenheit) and high pressure, 90 miles into the Earth’s mantle? Diamonds; known for both their strength and beauty.

Startup Life is wrought with unique pressures that force me to stay present. But, it’s interesting to note how pressure – with its often negative connotation can bring very positive outcomes. Here’s what the pressure of ‘NOW’ has given me:

Pressure: Rapidly Changing Product Identity

‘Diamonds’: 
Adaptability: Practicing ‘Go with the flow’. Being okay with change at breakneck speed.

Acceptance: Practicing ‘Let it go’. Understanding that I am not in control & accepting that.

Detachment: Understanding what’s in today is out tomorrow. The only thing I can get attached to is my analytics program.

Pressure: Personal Financial Uncertainty

‘Diamonds’: 

Preparation: Saving NOW. Not Later. NOW, NOW, NOW.

Practicality: Being mindful of needs vs. wants. Do I really need that shirt in 3 colors? Or do I want that shirt in 3 colors? Do I have everything I need right now?

Gratitude: Finding awareness of things I have taken for granted. Recognizing the abundance that exists in my life. According to Maslow, I am fantastic.

Pressure: Volatility in Company Outlook

‘Diamonds’:  

Mental Toughness- Getting comfortable being uncomfortable. Maintaining my focus through fear and uncertainty – with no inkling of what’s to come.

Hustle- Making every day count. Using every possible moment to sponge information that may be helpful to the success of the company. No “phoning it in” allowed. Startup life has instilled this in me in a way that no other place of employment ever has.

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I find that sometimes the most difficult experiences are the most fruitful.  Often, the thing you resist the most is the very thing you need to grow. Like pigeon pose. (Can I have a show of hands of those who despise Pigeon pose?) Instead of shying away from hard – seek it out.  Experiences that challenge us are necessary. Formative. Fortifying. What ‘diamonds’ will you take from yours?

 

Written By: Megan Mayle

 

 

 

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