On Being Alive

Yesterday, I drank a cup of coffee way too light into the evening and found myself a little restless as I was trying to fall asleep. I could feel my heart beating, and it was beating fast and hard. I was just in my bed, wrapped by the darkness of my room, quietly listening to my heart beat. And then I had a thought as I was listening to my heart:

“What if this heart stops beating and I don’t wake up tomorrow?”

Of course that’s a dramatic thought and I didn’t actually think I was going to die, but just observing and listening to my heart beat and knowing that it’s been beating since I was born without missing a BEAT like a true solider..  it made me think about how precious life is. If this heart of mine stops beating, it’s all over. And is tomorrow really guaranteed? It was a beautiful realization I had, and I really felt like it was a blessing to wake up this morning and see the sun shine through my windows.

I was reading the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris yesterday and there was a question posed in the book:

“What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?”

The book interviews a lot of extremely successful people in different fields, so this question was posed to these people to figure out what lead to their success. However, I thought about it and posed it back to myself – what are the choices I’ve made in my past that have lead me exactly at where I am right now? And taking it a step further, what are the choices I CAN and WILL make that will allow me to BECOME the person I will be? When I thought about that, that was an extremely powerful question. Because through the book Conversations with God, there is one concept that keeps repeating itself through the entire series – that life is a process of creation, not a process of discovery.

We’re not here to find something that we’ve been searching for. We’re meant to create whoever we want to be, and we’re creating ourselves in every second of our lives. Literally every choice you make is an expression of who you think you want to be. But the beautiful thing the book mentions is that if you don’t like what you have created, choose something else and create again. It sounds overly simplified, but it’s a fact that we’ve created ourselves to be who we are right now. For most of us, it was probably an unconscious act of creation. But we always have the power to create ourselves and choose again. I think that’s the beautiful thing about life – yes, life is hard and it’s harder for some than it is for others, but each of us is given the power of creation. And creation is not about what you’re doing but it’s about what you’re being while you’re doing. For example, it doesn’t matter that you’re a billionaire CEO if you’re not being happy, fulfilled, inspired, and driven. I think that’s what is meant by creating yourself – not the lifestyle you want or the things you want to have, but the highest state of being and feeling you can achieve in this life. Another beautiful thing is that all of us have different preferences and desires so maybe it IS that having a certain lifestyle and getting a bunch of things will make you reach that state. But it’s never the opposite way around.

Appreciate the fact that your heart is beating right now and even for just today, we can choose to create a beautiful day for ourselves.

“Life doesn’t happen in any other way than that in which we think it will.”

Comfort is the Enemy

Image result for the human mind once stretched by a new idea

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by the HYPE Foundation in conjunction with Temple University and their Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute out in Philadelphia. One of my companies was selected as one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in the world of Sports & Health and we had the opportunity to present and speak with a room full of other innovative startups, executives from Fortune 100 companies, thought leaders, business students, and department heads of the University. I really enjoy meeting new people, especially impressive people that I could learn from and that could inspire me, and so this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

It was a full-day event from 11AM – 9PM and it was nothing short of extraordinary. I was able to speak with startup founders doing innovation at the absolute forefront of sports technology. I spoke with executives from companies such as Intel, IBM, MasterCard, Under Armour, and the NFL. I also spoke to aspiring entrepreneurs that wanted some pointers on how to succeed in the field in the future. The biggest takeaways I got from the event after being exposed to so many impressive people is that:

  1. You have to always keep pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone.
  2. Really, truly believe in yourself, because no one else will
  3. Think highly of yourself, but always stay humble and objectively seek areas where you can improve.
  4. Take criticism objectively, never personally. Take your ego out of it, and you can only benefit.
  5. Surround yourself with amazing people and you’ll feed off of their energy and enthusiasm
  6. Getting ahead in life is about making genuine connections with others. Meet new people, form new relationships/connections, and never start with the mindset of “getting something out of them.”
  7. Given enough time, your mind will always talk you out of something. It uses logic and avoidance of “change” as a survival instinct. If you make a decision, act before your mind has time to decide. The biggest regret is never being able to experience what could have been.

Life is a people game. Humans are collaborative, social, and emotional creatures and the ones that succeed in life are usually those that have created many, many genuine connections over a long period of time. Just being in an atmosphere of innovation, success, and entrepreneurship really motivated me to think big and do more, and I walked away having met titans in the industry and forming great connections and relationships with many others. Another great thing I realized about myself is that I’ve grown a lot from even just the start of the year. When the New Year turned around the corner, I assessed myself and looked at areas where I needed to improve to reach the goals I wanted to achieve. These areas included being more social/friendly/charismatic, speaking with more confidence, raising the bar of believing in what I could achieve, etc. I started the year lacking in these skills and yesterday I realized I was going up and speaking to directors at Intel, IBM, Under Armour and the NFL and having discussions as if we were equals. And that’s the thing – people will respond to how you carry yourself. If you go up to a powerful person and act like a timid, wide-eyed fan girl, they’ll naturally react and speak to you accordingly to what you believe about yourself. I believed I was a capable, driven, confident business leader and during these conversations, I realized I was having really engaging and interesting conversations with people that have probably made 10,000x and more of what I have. And I got a tingling feeling in my body when I started to think “I could definitely be where this person is some day.” Maybe it’s arrogance and/or ignorance, but to me, it’s an attitude of belief and certainty. Because the last greatest thing I learned from this event and from these people is that to achieve crazy things, you have to be crazy. You don’t achieve great things by accident. As the late Steve Jobs once said:

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”