In 1995, Scott A. Sandford, a researcher at the NASA Ames Center in Mountain View, California, took up a landmark study that proves, once and for all, that one can compare apples and oranges. In fact, they’re quite similar.
The Supreme Court is about to decide if corporations should be able to patent genes. Lets hope they make the right decision.
Meditation is basically a training method for your mind. When certain things happen to you, your mind generates a certain response whether it be happiness, frustration, anger ect. The way your mind has been inculcated is the path of least resistance and the path it wants to take, and will take unless you know how to mitigate it. Meditation teaches you how and makes it easier to override the process. Who is doing the overriding of this process? Well, that’s the million dollar question. But I digress.
So here’s what I’m getting at: if meditation is too easy, you’re doing something wrong. You might be getting yourself really relaxed, but is it possible that’s all you’re doing? Not saying it is. I don’t know, just throwing some ideas out there and it’s up to you to see if any seem to fit your situation.
But as you meditate, your mind wants to grab onto the thoughts and not your breath. The course of least resistance is away from your breath and back into whatever thoughts are vying for your attention. Every time you go back to the breath, you train or teach yourself even, to take the opposite of the path of least resistance. This is coupled with the fact that half the time when you meditate, your mind says, “I’m tired. Stop concentrating on the breath and just kick back and let a guided meditation do most of the work.” But every time this comes up you learn to drop it by returning to the breath and not listening to the thought no matter how loud and powerful it can get.
When you first start meditating you have this thought and then come back to the breath. But there’s still a trace of this thought floating around in your mind and eventually it pulls you in again. As soon as you realize your back in that thought again, you turn your awareness back to the breath and away from the thought. But then it pulls you in again. And then you drop it again. You do this over and over and over. But as you practice you get better and better and faster and faster at recognizing it. You start to figure out how to do it most efficiently and quickly, seeing and dropping thoughts before they even become thoughts at all.
After doing this hour after hour, you gain a skill. One day you realize that you don’t have to be sitting on a cushion to use this skill. I can’t really explain how it’s done, but it’s just something you learn from continually focusing, coming back to, and holding your attention on the breath. It’s like if you ever do a lot of push-ups, eventually you will realize, “I can flex my pecs.” You couldn’t flex them before, and you don’t really know how you learned to do it, but now you can just do it. (source)
(Hat tip to Andy McKenzie)
In my experience, disciplined meditation leads to clearer thinking, increased empathy, and a higher level of everyday awareness.
So most of us keep these struggles private, some of us are lucky to count fellow founders as close friends who we can confide in. Who we can talk to candidly in a circle of founder trust. If you’re a founder and don’t have this, make these friendships. They can save your life.
If you could have an honest conversation with every founder, you’d probably find that they either are or were very depressed at some point. Maybe there is some predisposition for emotionally unstable people to want to be founders, but most likely the high rate of depression is because this is fucking hard, it’s stressful and there are huge risks.
“Hypomania can give entrepreneurs significant advantages. It includes elevated mood, expansive creativity, and an increased ability to tolerate risk. Soft bipolar entrepreneurs can be visionary, highly self confident, persuasive, energized, and boundlessly enthusiastic about the companies they are building.” Think of hypomania as a kind of “success gene.”
For those who are mostly hypomanic, they need support in checking the “irrational exuberance” that can put their companies at risk. They need to engage in calming activities like walking, meditating, and ensuring that they abate the insomnia that naturally comes with an active mind. They also need cofounders, employees, and advisors who are willing to challenge the feasibility of implementing some of their wild ideas. Those who experience mild depression must train themselves to follow exercise regimens, spend time with loved ones, and learn how to manage feelings of self doubt and negative thinking. And for those who suffer from bouts of chronic depression, the right medications and evidence-based therapies can be life changing.
A survey by the Founders Institute found that less ego and more experience correlate with success in entrepreneurship. Of course people will immediately assume that being older is a predictor of both of these qualities, but that incorrectly assumes causation (age ≠ experience). One can obtain an incredible amount of experience quickly by simply putting themselves out there, trying new things, and being open to experiences – learning from failures.
On another note, the term “less ego” oversimplifies the concept of ego. As Nietzsche and Heidegger first noted, what people meant by “ego” before the time of Nietzsche and Heidegger was actually “will.” (Ayn Rand still makes this mistake, in my opinion.) The ego is the self-identifying element of our consciousness, that through which we relate to the world. People with a “big ego” cannot think the existence of other egos (other people with thoughts and feelings) outside of their own. They can only see others as a reflection of their own ego. This essentially reduces the other to the same as or less than the self, which is ethically violent and, some philosophers would argue, the source of all hatred and war.
The will, on the other hand, drives people to assert themselves in the world. A strong will, I would say, correlates more with success than a big ego. True, a big ego and a strong will tend to go hand-in-hand, but they’re definitely not mutually dependent. Take Bill Campbell for example. Incredibly successful, yet you won’t find an ounce of pretension on him.
Conclusion: beware of the confusion between ego and will. Strive to have a strong will, while humbly manage your ego.
“[a wise person] acts without claiming the results as his; he achieves his merit and does not rest (arrogantly) in it: — he does not wish to display his superiority.”
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Via the footer on Discourse.org
Sock is a brilliant mentor of mine in leadership, management, and relationships. He recently wrote me after I sent him an example of a business proposal I’m working on. I’m posting this mostly for myself (my website, after all) to remind myself of why I do things. Sock pretty much hammers the head on this. While it’s a specific example of my “why,” I think you can derive some general principles and apply to anyone’s “why,” so maybe you’ll find it useful too.
“One of the things that jumped out to me regarding the proposal was the statement involving your background. It just felt like it was qualifying that you were a Philosophy major rather than a business or entrepreneur major, when in fact I think it might be the groups strongest point. Knowing you and the varied discussions we’ve had, I know that not just about ‘business’ but a purpose of thought behind everything you’re doing. While there are only a few ‘businees-philosophers’ how many true philosophers actually take action based upon a cause and belief? You represent that. You represent that notion that was presented at the Thiel Foundation dinner, that any real world problem the solution will be found in at least two separate professions. Your product just isn’t about a sport business product, but one centering around the philosophy of valuing human life and the quality of that life by preventive measure, maintenance and management. From a philosophical standpoint you were compelled to rise up and meet that. That’s something not many can actually claim. Now indoctrinate that within an organization and why each of your were drawn together and you truly have something incredible. It tells an amazing story of ‘why’, not just ‘what’ you’re proposing or focusing on.
Glad to hear you’re still out there and kicking ass!”
So many of these “Lessons Learned in 2012″ posts should be rather titled “Awesome Stuff I Did and How You Can Do Them Too.” They’re not really learning, just preaching narratives that fit their experiences. Narcissism is a bitch.
Don’t learn from successes: the causal mechanism of success is often random, outside of our control anyway. More important: learn from failures, mistakes, or close-scrapes with utter failure. Make a list from that and it’ll benefit you more than learning from success ever could. Here’s mine:
- Trust your friends – just by the fact that they are different from you, they have different knowledge/experience/perspectives. This differentness allows for lateral problem solving, whether business or personal. This differentness is a form of smarter-than, as in they know different stuff so they see the same thing you see differently and bring something new to the table. Thus, trust your friends, because they are smarter than you.
- ALWAYS reason from first principles, not from analogy. It’s harder to do, but first principles allow you a framework with which to solve the problem at hand creatively. It’s literally a framework for innovation. Elon Musk talks about this. Engineers are good at this. Make friends with engineers. Then trust them.
- Start with morality. Having a strong moral base (actually, ethics) from which you make decisions makes everything clearer. Start here. Read some books: Ethics and Infinity which is a good introduction to Levinas, The Moral Animal by Robert Wright on evolutionary psychology which is okay, Emerson, Hume, and Nietzsche are some of my favorites.
One post I’ve found so far that does it the right way:
2012. Hard Lessons Learned.
If there’s one thing to take away from last weekend’s Under20 Summit, it’s that incredible things can quite certainly be done. While working on a creative project, you undoubtedly come to a point where you don’t know whether or not what you’re working on will succeed. Panic, mild depression, and whole-days spent in bed ensue. However, when you meet people that have already worked through those blocks and met with success, you realize that… they’re just people. If they’ve done it, then so can you.
The interesting thing is that reality is negotiable. There is a certain way that the world works, and that’s great. But it’s not ideal—there’s always room for improvement. Being an entrepreneur and a creator means to envision a grand improvement, and then work your ass off to find a way to bring reality closer to your vision. It’s a battle, for sure, but worth the wounds in the end.
My two favorite talks: Matt Scholz and Josh Whiton
I’ll be honest, those were the only two talks I went to. But I selected those talks for very specific reasons.
Scholz talked about his experience going from computer science to biotech as he started his company, Immusoft. What struck me most was his genuine personality. I loved sitting outside in the grass, talking with him about everything from recent biotech research to his adventures partying in Ibiza, Spain. I envy his ability to switch in a moment from esoteric talk about protein decoupling to laughing and joking with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. People that can do that sort of thing are the type of people you should strive to be like.
Whiton’s talk was recommended to me my John Marbach. He spoke about his experience bootstrapping his bus location-tracking company by funding his technology with early sales. Since I’m only 19 years old, it’s not easy to conjure up venture capital for a biotech company. So, I plan to bootstrap my venture with sales, thereby validating and learning my business as I go. Whiton is a soft-spoken guy with a rational sense about him, which I highly respect. He also eats paleo, which is cool.
Great youngins to watch out for
I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone I wanted to meet, but these are the few that made a strong impression on me, and the ones that I think you should watch out for because they’ll be doing great things soon:
Rebecca Kantar – Rebecca’s got a phenomenally vivid sense of life that comes out in the way she talks about and runs her projects. She’s the CEO of the Minga Group and BrightCo, and has a pretty cool TED talk, linked above.
Max Lamb – Max and my startup team got to hang out for a while and walk around Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. He’s a chill kid with some good ideas and a strong sense for what he really wants as opposed to the bullshit society throws at you. He’s working at a biotech startup right now. Check out his recap of biotech at the Under20 Summit.
Dune Harman – This guy was the social arbiter of the whole thing. He knew almost everyone. On top of that, he knew who I should meet and why (he spoke highly of and introduced me to Emily Peck, another very smart attendee). Watch out for when he puts on his own events, because they will of course be incredible events with incredible attendees.
Carl Shan – I met up with Carl at the Udemy offices, where he’s working on their growth team. Carl’s got a great sense of who he is and what he wants working for Udemy and elsewhere. I can see any project he leads becoming successful, just because of how helpful and personable he is
Of course, there were a few people that slipped under my radar, probably because I didn’t get a chance to talk with them for too long. If you’re one of those kids, shoot me an email, I’d love to hear from you.