Control, Life

Tilt

Does anyone else get incredibly frustrated at the fact that they aren’t perfect yet? Because I sure do.  I know I know, it’s supposed to be about the journey, but sometimes, it just gets frustrating.  I was reading this book (from a new genre: startup fiction– yes that IS a thing now) and it talked about entrepreneurs being in “tilt”. Tilt, as they defined it, was when you are basically downward spiraling.  It’s a completely normal thing that happens all the time, you just have to recognize when you are in it, and course correct.  It’s almost like you’re a doctor, diagnosing yourself (i.e. WebMD but for your own neuroses and ticks).  It recommends figuring out what you do when you are spiraling downward, recognize it and overcompensate the other way so that your business doesn’t suffer.

Which is awesome if you are a robot, which clearly, the startup world is trying to make us all into.  Just kidding, but sometimes it feels that way.  I don’t know how they do that- just ignore all the pent up frustration and pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s the part they don’t talk about how to deal with.  And it’s crazy because it’s the little things that get to you, because you think you can ignore them, and then they add up to very big things (or at least in your head they are very big things).

Schedules are so tight that if one thing goes off, the whole day is in tilt.  And I haven’t scheduled any room for..I don’t know, fixing the mess. It’s sad (or maybe good, I don’t really know), but somehow work always gets done.  It’s all the other things in my life that suffer. I need to figure out how to fix that. Sometimes, the things that get me into tilt just amaze me though.

So I got bitten by a stray dog, which bit through my only pair of workout pants I have.  So now I own no workout pants.  I haven’t made time to go buy any, because I just figure it’s ok because I only really need pants if I don’t go to the salon enough (which I promised myself I would!)  EXCEPT I was talking at this college in Tamil Nadu this weekend, and I was supposed to come back on Sunday (to run errands which included going to the salon) and of course the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu HAD to be convicted and sentenced to jail  the ONE day I was there, and they started rioting and burning buses and ish so I couldn’t come back to Bangalore because I might DIE.  For real. So we had to wait until the next day, but of course all the tickets were hella expensive to get out of Tamil Nadu and back to Bangalore, so the only reasonable ticket we could get was to fly into Chennai from Trichy at 2pm and leave from Chennai to Bangalore at 10pm.  Which means I got back home at midnight and spent all of Sunday at the airport.  Which was not so bad, except I went to bed late and then got up late,  so of course I was late for my first meeting (and didn’t eat breakfast), and didn’t get to catch up until 3pm today.  I finally got everything done at 8pm, but then I had to choose between salon and the gym and man I hadn’t worked out in a few days (again, the whole riots and burning buses and not getting back in time thing) so I picked the gym.  But because I hadn’t made time for the whole buying pants thing, I had to go with sprouty legs, which, I mean, I guess I’m not supposed to care about, but I totally do (so sue me) and I felt weird the entire time.  And it’s frustrating because I mean if a) I didn’t get bitten by that stray dog OR b) riots did not break out the EXACT time I was in that one city (I swear I was supposed to be there less than 24 hours!) I would have been fine.

They seem extreme but I feel like there’s always some sort of random act of whatever that throws a wrench in my perfect plans.

But I guess that’s the point.  I need to get over the fact that there will be no perfect plans, and I really just gotta roll with it.

Stray dog bites, rioting, and king cobras in your house and all (wait, did I mention there was a king cobra in my house and I had to call a snake catcher and all that jazz? Yeah, that happened).

I guess all I can do is keep calm and carry on.

 

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Control, happiness

Acceptance and Adulthood

Since I’ve been on vacation this last week, I got to do quite a bit of thinking.  One of the concepts I’ve been working on with Ruth is this idea of acceptance, and how that applies to my work life.  But I was talking with one of my co-founders, and we had this great discussion about how the essence of adulthood, at the end of the day, is really about acceptance.  It sounds quite counterintuitive, but I think acceptance is the first step, in a long process, to a happy adulthood.

On the flip side, if the key to adulthood is acceptance, I think the key to staying young is learning how to be happy about it.  How to stay excited.  Finding reasons to get up in the morning, despite all the things you don’t have control over.

I made my list:

I accept that there are things I have to do that I don’t want to.  Let me rephrase that.  I accept that there are things that I choose to do because I have the power to make each moment beautiful, and I have the power to create wonderful memories for others around me.

I accept that there are very few things that I have control over. Let me rephrase that.  I accept that I have the power to choose how I behave, how I make others feel, and how I handle myself in any given situation.

I accept that I can’t control what people say around me.  Let me rephrase that.  I accept that I have the power to choose what thoughts I think, what I choose to believe, what actions I take, and what I choose to say.

I accept that there are very few things I have control over.  Let me rephrase that.  I accept I have control over the most powerful force I know: my thoughts, my actions.  And if I learn to exercise this power I can control, I think I would have achieved something great in life.

Which is why I want to focus on this one thing  And be happy about the small victories, because honestly, those are probably the most important ones anyway.

Welcome to adulthood

Happy Monday

Control, fear, happiness, Job, Life Goals

The Fluidity of Life

Being an Indian female, I was sort of under the impression that life ended at the old age of 30 when you had to get married and have kids.  Then, as I grew older, I decided that life didn’t necessarily end after you got married, but when you had kids you were basically a slave to them, so you could kiss all your dreams good bye.  But I figured by that point you didn’t have any dreams anyway so it’s fine. Ha.

Which is all really strange, because I realized that my whole perception of the world was binary.  Or at least in boxes with clear beginnings, middles, and ends.  It’s funny, I spent so much of college wishing I was more engineering like (because honestly, I was terrible at it) and now I realize that I am plenty engineering like.  It helps when you’re trying to dissect business problems, or problems in general- because yes, you need to define boundaries, figure out the problem, and architect a solution, but for your actual life, this philosophy, when taken to the extreme, is more detrimental than not.  I think.

Being in London, I realize that I want to come back here for extended periods of time.  Being in India, I realize I want to be there too.  And being in the US, I realize I want to spend time there as well.  Maybe if I visit Paris, I’ll feel that way too, who knows (I have this weird obsession with Paris, and the more people tell me how horrid and dirty it is, the more I really want to go- yes I’m just weird like that).  And I was thinking to myself, jesus, how am I supposed to pick where I live or what I’m supposed to be in life, or who I spend the rest of my life with, or anything important like that?  And then I just asked myself- why?  Why does it have to be this or that?  Why does it have to fit this mould that I have seen others follow? Because so much of my life has been so unconventional anyway, why would I be under the assumption that I’d have to pick doing this OR that?  Yes, I understand the reality that we only have 24 hours in the day, and our life is finite, and we will be unhappy if we try to do to many things and don’t do it well, but at the same time, there is so much between THIS and THAT, I think it’s really worth exploring the in betweens.  Really exploring that empty space between here and there.  Because I think that space is incredibly vast, way bigger than we think.

I’ve never had a problem coloring out of the lines, but the problem was that there was a box and I was always aware that there was a box I was not coloring in.  So I always thought of my life in terms of how badly out of the lines I was coloring. It was always measured by this finite thing.

But maybe that’s the wrong way of looking at it.  What if you get rid of the idea of lines and boxes, and just think of coloring, not in relation to anything in particular, but just for the sake of coloring, wherever you feel like coloring.  Mostly because it feels like the right thing to do.

Which pretty much means you won’t know what your picture will look like beforehand, which is pretty scary, I must admit, but it’s probably a better way of living.  And chances are, you’ll turn out with a way better painting.

Control, happiness, Job, Startups

Freshman Year, First Semester of Adulthood

I got that terminology out of a book I read a long time ago and I quite liked it.  For some reason I decided that adulthood started at 26 (I decided that in college and hold that it was the correct age to start expecting things from me- not anytime sooner, I was still warming up).  Now that it’s winter holidays, I thought I should give myself a report card.

Freshman year of adulthood was exactly like Freshman year of college.  I moved from Hubli to Bangalore.  It was crazy.  There was so many things to do, and so little time to do it.  NextDrop wasn’t dying.  In fact, we were growing.  And that was stressful.  Is stressful.  I tried to make friends, but learned from the last freshman year that I went through that I have a tendency to overdo it.  I didn’t want to be a people pleaser.  I just wanted to hang out with people I genuinely wanted to hang out with- not out of obligation.  Which I did.  I am proud of myself for that. But life still feels like a mess.  Sort of like Katrina all over again (and FEMA decided not to respond this time.  Oh wait…)

Luckily we’ve employed the MIT system and all Freshman are not actually graded- just given a Pass/Fail.  I passed. HURRAH!

Focus on next semester:

Slowing down.  Finding my center.

That’s what I messed up for so long.  I find it easier to go faster, wilder, never say no, never slow down.  It’s like slowing down will kill me. Slowing down is scary.  Now I know that I don’t slow down not because I won’t get things done, but I am scared of what will happen when there is empty spaces in time to fill.  How do I fill it? I have to be in my own head- I have to be in the moment.  Zen.  Scary.

I’m actually convinced that if I can do this one thing, work, and life in general, will be infinitely better.  I have done it a few times and I think to myself, wow, why don’t I do this more often?  But it’s super difficult to get to that state.  It takes me a whole day or more (and usually removing myself from Bangalore) to get to that point of centered-ness.  So now, I want to focus on getting me to that state, every day.  In my own settings.  (Because lets face it, I can’t drop everything and go to Kerala every time I feel un balanced now can I? In case you thought I was richer than I actually am, the answer is no).

The plan:

Dance (or yoga) every morning.  Sacred time.  Which means getting up early- like at 5 am.  Its so wonderful at that time- the world is asleep and I have it all to myself.  I WILL HAVE ANU TIME IN THE MORNING.  (Caps because I am trying to yell at myself/emphasize that this is really really important).

Work is from 9:30am to 6:30pm.  Keep focused and get the work done! It’s possible if we don’t get sidetracked and distracted.

Have Anu time after work.  Either dancing, yoga or gym before going home helps separate work from home.  I tried going home right after work and it was absolutely awful.  It was so much better having dance class right after.  The LEAST I can do is go to Gold’s Gym and either lift or cycle or…whatever. Something that says, hey, work is over and now you’re transitioning to home time.  This also means I need to go to bed around 10pm.  I can do that.  I think I can I think I can…

Rinse and repeat.

I want to keep it simple.  Just 3 simple rules to live by.  I think if I can do that, I will be better human being.

At least a nicer one to the people I work with….

Control, Exercise, happiness

Dance Dance Revolution: Lean Startup Body (II)

Basketball used to motivate me to do a lot of things.  It used to motivate me to lift weights, interval training/wind-sprints on the treadmill, and most importantly, do it on a regular basis so you could see actual results.  It was awesome.  I’m also freakishly competitive so the fact I was getting better and stronger and more skilled just made me workout even more.

But then since I’ve been in India over the last 2 years, it’s been difficult.  Basketball over here is just..different.  It’s not as motivating as it used to be.  At least motivating in the sense that it makes me lift 3 days a week and train the other 2 days.  I can’t explain it, but it’s just…not helping me get in shape.

Which is why I think I’m on to the next stage in life: Dance.  I’ve talked about it before, but now that I’m actually spending more time in Bangalore, I’ve signed up for classes and such.  And man.  Are they amazing.  Humbling, and awesome.  I signed up for contemporary dance, and I’ve never done it before but I love it.  It was everything I thought it was going to be, and then some.  And the best part is that there are all these things my body can’t do because I’m not strong enough, which now means I”m gonna hit the gym to get it right.

And I started classical Indian dance classes as well.  That’s a different story in that…it reminds me of what I used to be able to do, but what I can’t do now.  Which sounds really sad, but it’s actually kind of cool.  I know that if I practice, I can do it.  And the best part is that I know I can be better than what I used to be.  I used to be all right. But now that I”m starting over, I want to be great.  Or at least significantly better than before.

The weird thing about all this is that it’s actually made me appreciate my body so much more.  It’s strange, and it probably deserves its own post, but I like my body so much more now than what it was 10 years ago.  I used to be a size 0 ten years ago, and let me tell you, it was terrible.  I definitely weigh at least 30-40 pounds more, but would never go back to the way I used to be.  I feel stronger, healthier, and just…more able to do things.  I like the muscles that I’ve earned over the years, and yes, the excess cake that deposits in places around my stomach and hips and thighs and other parts I probably missed.  Whatever. I feel like it makes me human.  Mostly, I like the feeling like I have trained my body to do anything- that I can take on the world.

 

Control, fear, happiness, Job, Leadership, Life Goals, Startups

Step 1: Admitting You Have A Problem

What happens when a 23 going on 24 year old gets (almost) half a million dollars to run a company? (Wow, that looks so strange written out!) What does this person look like 2 years later?  Yes, that would be me.  And after an amazing conversation with an amazing friend from high school, I get to see where I am, and how far I still have to go (it’s so funny how high school friends have the ability to put a mirror up to you and say hey, look at you now).  I think the first step is just saying, wow, proud of myself for…surviving….but there is still a long long LONG way to go to be where you want to be.  To be honest, it’s only now (2 years later) that, since I have an amazing team, (and I can go on vacation without worrying the company will die) I have the luxury of really taking a deep dive and looking at myself critically.

What does that actually mean, practically?  It means that I acknowledge that there are lots of things that are holding me back from being the leader, executive, startup person, I want to be.  And being ok with that.  And knowing that I need to slow down and explore all those things, so that..I can overcome these mental roadblocks.  Because that’s what they are, mental roadblocks.

And I’m also admitting that maybe I can’t do this on my own.  I’m going to talk about a topic that most people don’t like talking about but I’m going to say it.  I think everyone (who can afford it) could use a therapist.  Especially when you have a high stress job.  I count running a startup a high stress job.  I feel like people think therapists are only for absolutely dire situations and for people who are either schizophrenic, bipolar, or suicidal maybe. You get the point.  But I think it’s one of the most misunderstood (and underused) fields that exist.  And it has so much negative stigma associated with it, it’s sort of ridiculous.  I am hoping to do my part to change that, by talking about it.  I want to use a therapist for preventative measures. Nothing is going horribly wrong now (in fact, people may look at my life and say wow you have everything!) but I think if I don’t do something differently, I am impeding my own personal growth, and the growth of our company.  It’s more about realizing that I need help to cross my own mental plateau- sort of like a…mental personal trainer.  I think most of us use our friends as substitute therapists, but really, that’s not their job.  They definitely help and keep you afloat (and I’m sure we all agree that we don’t know where we would be without them), but at the end of the day, if you are dominating conversations with your own problems, most of the time, I don’t think that’s healthy at all, and I think that’s the time the therapist comes in.  I’m not sure if I will actually have enough money to get one (gonna cross my fingers and hope I find someone I like at a reasonable price) but I don’t know anyone who can’t use a non judgmental, impartial/third party observer, who listens to you moan and cry and whine about your problems and asks you questions like, “how does that make you feel” and you go on and on about how that makes you feel ( for an hour a week).   Sounds pretty rad to me.

I have no idea how it will work out, and maybe I’ll find this is the worst idea ever, but right now, I at least feel like I’m doing SOMETHING to move in a positive direction.  Getting myself a mental-personal trainer.

But you know what else is therapeutic?  Writing about it. And hoping that other people who feel the same way will feel less alone, and say hey, yeah, that sounds like me too.

Control, happiness, Leadership

This Moment of Clarity

No matter what you do, you probably can’t get most people to like you.  Mostly because there is no objective way of ‘being’.  Everyone’s truth is so irreconcilably different, trying to get some sort of consensus would prove exponentially difficult- so difficult, in fact, that if this were a dynamic programming problem, it would be so computationally complex that no modern computer would have the capacity to compute this solution and would therefore be deemed unsolvable (yes, I still think of the world in terms of math problems, sorry).

But the fact of the matter is that no man is an island, so it never made sense to me when people said, don’t worry about what anyone else says.  Of course you should care about what SOME people say, because then you’re just floating about the world with no anchor in any sort of reality you believe in. The trick, I think, is picking WHO you care to listen to.

I believe in the Fave 5 (my favorite Sprint commercials from way back when, with Charles Barkley and Dwayne Wade) I pick 5 people in the world who I listen to, when it comes to the serious stuff (well give or take, but you get the idea).  And everyone else, well…you know.  There’s a wall (sort of Berlin style), with a virtual assistant who gets to screen commentary and issue entry visas, with the boss deciding, ultimately, what comments get permanent citizenship and which ones don’t (yes, it’s actually that militant).  But without that anchor (and really that wall), you’ll be pulled in so many directions that you don’t even know what to think.

So who’s in your Fave 5?