Hard Times Open Our Hearts

My last post was definitely the best one I’ve written, at least in my own opinion.  I feel like I related so well to many of you who I know read my blog.  And after thinking a little about why that seems to be the case, I realize it’s because I’m struggling just as much as many of you are.

Hard times open our hearts to others and let us be more compassionate and giving.  Sure, hard times are difficult and negative and dark.  But they bring us closer to those around us, to those of us that are struggling, too.

Keep Going

This startup thing is an emotional roller coaster.  Some weeks are amazingly positive, with tons of product progress and great meetings.  And others are slower, with technical problems that won’t get better.  I wanted to share some inspirational thoughts I’ve had lately, in hopes that they’ll be useful to you, too.

Problems aren’t worth solving if they’re not challenging.  A startup that isn’t difficult to build will have lots of competitors, or won’t tackle big enough problems to change the world.  I’m in this to change the world, so for better or worse I’m tackling very challenging problems.

During those challenges, though, it’s so easy to doubt yourself.  To think you’re not capable of doing it.  To think you’re not good enough, or don’t have the right experience or skills to carry on, or that you’ll screw it up anyway.  Bull shit.  You can do anything you put your mind to.  You just need to keep going.  Never stop.  And don’t let anything, especially yourself, stop you.

The most challenging things we do are what make us who we are. They bring out our nervousness and negative emotions, such as self doubt, and tune us into who we are and who we will become.  They make us stronger, more durable, and they open our hearts to those who are suffering and in difficult times, too.

I expect most of you have at least one challenge going on right now.  Maybe you’re unsure about your ability to write good code.  Or maybe you’re scared you’re pursuing the wrong major.  Or maybe you’re moving to a new city without a job lined up.  Times are hard.  But it’s these times that we’ll look back at when we’re older and be proud of.

And be proud right now.  Be proud for having the courage to be where you are right now, to be facing the challenge in the first place.  You’ve already overcome so much.  Just keep going, damnit.  Keep going until you’re sitting on top of the mountain you just moved, looking down at how you’ve made (or will make) an impact in the world.  Because you will if you haven’t already.  You just have to keep going.

The Cold Sprint

I’ve written previously about the morning ride I do and the legendary sprint at the end. Today I’m posting another email that I sent to the list, commentating this morning’s sprint. I have a good time writing these things up, and hopefully those cyclists out there get a kick out of them, too :)

The sprint started very mellow this morning. We had a large pack making its way through the beginning of the Presidio, two abreast into the cold morning. I started shit talking early. Chris graciously offered a hearty effort. I retorted saying it was every man for himself. Silly, I realize, and also ironic. Read on.

Up the first bump the pace was mild. I know this because my out-of-shape ass was able to keep up. And even slower we went as we crested the first little climb, each rider waiting to see who would lead us to the finish.

Then, out of nowhere, Brian K, who’s probably in worse shape than me, made a jump. A jump only rivaled by Mark Renshaw. What a heart that young man has! (He’s my age.) Immediately the pack went from mellow to chaos. Riders were unsure about where they were, whose wheel they were on, and how they would fair when the final turn came. The whole thing was crazy, really. Robert told me later that he forgot his name. You could see fear in some eyes, opportunity in others. Eventually, though, the peloton would find some order. Brian, giving everything he had, would stay on the front until the second-to-last turn, with Jared on his wheel, Chris on Jared’s, I on Chris’, and the rest of the pack behind me.

With just one turn to go, Jared, exerting himself so much that he wasn’t even able to see his power output on his bike computer, had gapped Chris and me. But I waited, patiently and selfishly hoping that Chris would close the gap.

Around the last turn we went, and out of the saddle I jumped. I was already spent, but I smelled blood. The blood of Jared, who at this point was at least 5 bike lengths in front of me. I was determined to catch him before the speed bump as if my life depended on it. According to Strava I peaked at 34mph. But despite Chris’ mighty effort, I would fall short. Jared, having been on the front since the second-to-last turn, would take this morning’s victory. I closed the gap, yes, but not enough.

Congratulations, Jared. You deserve your victory. But those of us in your wake long for our opportunity at the crown[1]. Now if only Strava would unflag the damn thing …

Alex

[1] For the last three years I’ve screamed to Jay, “I’m coming for you!” on each climb, and I’ve still never caught him. So I could be 100% full of shit.

2012 Resolutions and Predictions

I predict that 2012 will be a year for my career, and my resolution is to live more in the moment.

2011 was the year for my personal life.  In 2011 I biked 207 miles, had the best snowboard season of my life, and started dating my wonderful girlfriend, Jen.  I’m super proud and happy about 2011, but I already see a shift in 2012 towards my career and professional life.  I haven’t blogged much about the startup Eric and I are working on, but in 2012 I promise I will ;).  My new career focus also includes a good balance between work and personal time, though.

As for my resolution, I hope to live more in the moment, which for me means two things.  First, I plan to keep my damn phone in my pocket when I’m out and about with friends.  Second, I plan to work on getting myself away from my anxious, running mind.

As far as phones go, so many people are a slave to their smart phones.  They answer texts the moment they receive them.  They email while they’re watching a movie.  They play a game when they’re bored at a sporting event.  I don’t want to let my phone distract me from living my life.

As far as my anxious mind goes, I let my mind run too much when I’m planning or worrying about things.  I think endlessly about all the possible outcomes when I’m thinking ahead.  I want to stop doing this.  Thinking ahead is good, but harping on every detail and planning ahead too much causes more stress and anxiety than it’s worth.  I’m going to live more in the present, worrying about what’s now instead of what’s later.

I’m also hoping to blog more this year, so stay tuned for more updates and thoughts :).  Happy New Year, everyone!