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Writing

Comfort Zones, Focus and Feeling New

When I came back from New Zealand, I made some critical decisions. Some of them were painful to make. Others were necessary. Not for today, nor for tomorrow.

The worst part about growing up is that people settle and become comfortable.

“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Comfort doesn’t move the world forward.

But, being uncomfortable also doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is OK. There are two ways to react to being uncomfortable — one is fear and terror. The other is optimism and the desire to succeed.

The first option — almost always — will paralyze you and throw you into a downward spiral.

The second option — the more challenging of the two — will push your limits every single day.

Unfortunately, there is a very thin line between the two options. And going over the line in either way is an easy trap.

When I look back on every success story, it is riddled with anecdotes of rejection, failure and tough decisions.

As painful as it is, it is necessary. Over the past 10 days, I've narrowed my focus to a select few goals.

No longer am I taking calls at 5:30am to answer random questions. And no longer am I a sounding board about relationships, work problems or industry trends. Our group of companies are on the cusp of solving not one, but two large problems in e-commerce. That requires significant focus.

Just earlier today, I asked a client to email me again in September simply because I don’t have the ability to think about anything else at the moment.

I now wake up at 9am; go to the gym, grab breakfast and make it to my office by 11am. Only then do I check my emails and deal with the rest of the world.

Doing so consistently over the past few days has proved useful.

  • One of my portfolio companies has listed me as a co-inventor on a geolocation patent. Thank you, Ryan + team.
  • I have been rejected far more times in the past week than I have in the past few months. Which is a great thing, purely based on the law of numbers.
  • I’ve spent my weekend doing things I am genuinely passionate about. This includes: photography, long brunches (4 hours!) and meeting with investors/advisors.

None of the above are glorious in anyway shape or form. But, I thoroughly enjoy building products.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it”
― Abraham Lincoln

 

Being in New York and being a startup founder forces you to run at a million miles an hour. In that time, people forget that the only thing that makes the world move forward is people. People that understand human nature. People that solve huge problems. And people that genuinely and truly care.

Being compassionate doesn’t mean being a pushover. It means understanding other people. It means remembering that people have feelings. One of my favorite books is Not Fade Away — A Short Life Well Lived.

Some people are born to lead and destined to teach by the example of living life to the fullest, and facing death with uncommon honesty and courage. Peter Barton was that kind of person.
Driven by the ideals that sparked a generation, he became an overachieving Everyman, a risk-taker who showed others what was possible. Then, in the prime of his life — hugely successful, happily married, and the father of three children — Peter faced the greatest of all challenges. Diagnosed with cancer, he began a journey that was not only frightening and appalling but also full of wonder and discovery.


Compassion is not about walking away. Compassion is about listening and caring for others. Compassion is not about acting superior when others are down. Compassion is about showing up with strong shoulders and open arms. Compassion is treating others well. And once you do, I can promise you that you will feel more than you have ever felt. And you and everyone else around you will be better off.

As uncomfortable as I am right now, the feeling of uncertainty and unknown is exciting. It reminds me of days where I made decisions without fear. But more importantly, it reminds me of results and work that I was proud of: two books, half-a-dozen books with credits, a magazine cover, a top-10 podcast, etc.