Sticks on Ice

A friend suggested I write about micro vs. macro.

These two words have related, but opposite meanings. Everything happening right now (micro) is transitory, yet these micro-moments coalesce into the story of our comprehensive progress (macro).

The distraction of each micro-moment is impossible to avoid, but the Canadian saying, keep your stick on the ice, reminds us to chill, keep it simple, and be ready for anything. No matter where stuff lands on the spectrum between good and bad, micro eventually accumulates into macro. Alright, take a deep breath, enjoy a sip, and let’s brew on how staying mindful of the macro, helps us appreciate the micro.

Extra Shot

Want me to lean into a topic on your mind? I’m ready when you are.

Last week’s writing on intrinsic motivations seemed to resonate, as it was encouraging to hear from many of you. After a few dispirited days, I was back at full speed with Global Entrepreneurship Week. Our web3dsm gathering, 1 Million Cups, an angel investor event, premiering our Techstars Iowa Accelerator 2022 Demo Day video, and watching friends like you bring so many things together, was a groovy way to celebrate entrepreneurs who serve their local communities and bolster the global economy.

A focal point for me, was an opportunity to speak at the United Fall Leadership Conference. To maximize the impact, I cranked up the volume in a new talk tuned specifically for students and educators. I call it “No Permission Required”. The energy of accelerating others is unmatched, but there’s an extra boost as we’re exploring education and making a ruckus to activate linchpins along the way! It was cool to connect with 200+ high school students from all around Iowa and one of my sessions was recorded, so here’s me sharing my heart in full effect.

Alright, by now you’re thinking, how does this have anything to do with micro vs. macro or staying ready for anything by keeping your stick on the ice?

Well, after this whirlwind of wonderful, the brutal cold season found it’s way into our home. The highs of so much stimulant collided with the lows of isolating sickness. As always, mental fitness was tested. Within the worry of caring for loved ones and the frustration of my own pain, the goodness from days before felt distant. Agitation is hard to fend off during tough times, but with sticks on the ice, we can better embrace the challenge, bend without breaking, and appreciate what makes good times great.

As we give thanks, keep your stick on the ice by recognizing how special each micro-moment is, as they compile into our own macro-moment called life. Happy Thanksgiving!

Intrinsic

We all have bad days. When they string together, the stress gets heavy. This mental weight becomes especially unwieldy when the cause is unclear. After a couple down days, I went searching for the origin of my cloudy mood.

Along with insight on entrepreneurship, venture capital, and community building, Brad Feld talks a lot about mental fitness. The entrepreneurial lifestyle is a lonely roller coaster and I’m thankful for leaders like Brad (and many others), who have helped destigmatize the complex circuitry between leadership and mental health.

I found this entrepreneurship & mental health series from Techstars helpful, then wove in this 2015 interview to translate my temporary despair. Brad talked about how he’s gone through serious bouts with depression and through those challenging times, he’s been able to identify one of his intrinsic motivations to be perpetual learning. He went on to describe how even when he was busy and perceived to be successful, if boredom began to set in, an isolating absent of joy may soon follow.

This gave me clarity. I realized that one layer of my own intrinsic motivation is also learning. I like being in situations where I’m exposed to new things, thinking about fresh ideas, solving interesting problems, hearing stories from different people, and building into things I really care about. When there’s a lull in the action, it’s easy to think the ride is over. While this thought is misguided and untrue, it’s still disheartening. Mental fitness means something different for everyone, but here are a few exercises I plan to maintain within my practice.

  • Link learning with teaching.
  • Recognize that the storm will pass.
  • Find trusted peers to release tension.
  • Use this stimuli of stress to focus.

Adam Grant reminds us that strength does not come from ignoring pain. It stems from knowing that your past self has hurt and your future self will heal. Within the crucible of entrepreneurship, hardship is inevitable. Radical self inquiry keeps leaders aware of their mental fortitude. Such awareness then helps us maintain and uncover new stepping stones that illuminate our own path to thrive beyond momentary setbacks.

Extra Shot

Calm is one of my favorite apps. The guided meditations and sleep stories are a healthy aspect of my daily routine. Here are 10 ways to boost your mental fitness, a mental fitness training guide, and free mindfulness resources from these focused friends.

Winterizing

As temperatures drop, those who live in seasonal climates start preparing for winter. Winterizing your world can mean many things. There are chores to do around the house, gatherings to coordinate, and year-end tasks to finish strong in business. These activities can be uplifting, but the cold that’s coming can also be disheartening.

Extra Shot

My favorite season is the transitional times between each season.

We often resist things we can not change, and this resistance causes suffering. To stay centered, find enjoyment in your changing reality. Celebrate the subtle elegance of winter and remember that all things have a beginning, but also an end. As we accept change, we become more resilient, which invites openness and more enjoyment within the moment. This makes the bitter cold feel refreshing and even in the coldest of winters, an invincible summer will burn from within.

Birding

Bird watching is a peaceful place.

I enjoy the variety of flying colors, the sounds, the squabbles, and if you watch long enough, you’ll see a symphony of movement unfold. My local favorites are the goldfinch and blue jay. Birding is a simple pleasure, but that’s the point, eh. Quiet appreciation for the small things invites us to settle into each moment.

The world is wild and endless distractions make us feel frantic when there’s so much to do. Birding, or appreciating whatever the understated beauty may be, can help us stay centered. As this layer of mindfulness becomes part of your practice, it gets easier to slow things down just enough to ensure we don’t miss life along the way.

Feng Shui

Welcoming the unpredictable forces of life, provides ease and creates space for energizing adaptation. Peace awaits those who appreciate all that is, without worrying so much about all that is not. That said, we know this doesn’t mean everything just falls into place. It takes initiative, consistency, awareness, and sacrifice to find your own version of equanimity.

Extra Shot

It’s not a rainy day. It’s free water.

As I felt the warm wind of this sunset cruise on a glass lake, Kid Cudi mentioned feng shui and got me thinking about this week’s writing. Similar to how one may setup the space of a home to harmonize with nature, we can connect elements of our own career portfolio to feel the universal benefits of feng shui.

The places you visit, the people you’re with, and the art you generously create all connect through you. Over a lifetime, you become an environment for others, and this becomes your legacy. If there’s passion, diversity, intellectual humility, and overall harmony within your environment, your impact on the universe can be serendipitous and my hope is that the way you spend your time, will add up in the end.