It’s been an exciting 5 years since Rise Bar was founded! I distinctly remember the first day walking into our former office in north San Diego, and feeling that sense of wonderment, excitement… and nervousness. In that time span, I’ve learned a lot more than I ever thought possible. There have been some incredibly memorable highs, mixed in with some unanticipated challenges. Through it all, I’ve come to realize that there are 5 major themes that can be applied to each and every one of our lives.
1) The importance of a growth mindset
We can view each trial and tribulation in one of two ways: a massive disappointment that causes us to question our luck, or a tremendous opportunity for growth. I choose the latter. Rather than ask “why did this happen to me?”, I choose to ask myself “what can I learn from this experience?” This also helps cultivate a sense of grit and resilience – traits of paramount importance in entrepreneurship, and especially life. In addition, mistakes can be good! Failure helps us break through the self-imposed comfort zones that we often prefer. True growth comes from the unexpected.
2) Focus is everything
I’ve read over 30 business books, and the vast majority emphasize the same point: it’s all about FOCUS. In today’s world of digital distraction, we are pulled into so many different directions that we tend to move from one subject to another in a matter of milli-seconds. This tends to go against how our brains evolved over millions of years. In the past, we needed to be fully present, otherwise we would face the potential threat of predators and imminent danger. Thousands of years later, we don’t face nearly the same type of terminal situations; yet, our brains don’t know the difference. We are constantly in a state of fight-or-flight (cortisol response), and our brains and bodies react as if we are going to collapse when we get a seemingly negative email or text or phone call. Moreover, we have re-trained our bodies to elicit a dopamine (happy) response by quickly responding to every single message that we get. In fact, we start to get antsy if we don’t. How many of you have had that feeling? We can all make the choice to be fully present. Less is more. Focus on what is right in front of you. Meditation helps!
3) It’s all about the process
We are such a results-driven society, that it’s easy to jump from one goal to the next without taking time to reflect. We also tend to forget that it’s the process that enabled us to achieve that goal. When you study the famous masters of years past – Leonardo DaVinci, Michael Jordan, Garry Kasparpov (to name a few) – they all practiced with the same intensity as they did when they performed. They fell in love with the process, even on days where they didn’t want to show up. One of my favorite bloggers, James Clear, has an amazing post that provides some more context: http://jamesclear.com/goals-systems.
4) Stop comparing yourself to others
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated when I would hear about a competitor launching a massive new product or raise a round of funding. Even hearing about another friend’s success – especially when you’re fighting an uphill battle – can cause a bit of sting. In the world of social media today, we see these images dozens of times per day (perhaps even more). It’s easy to subconsciously have that measuring stick… and to consistently find ourselves disappointed. The legendary UCLA coach, John Wooden, said he learned one piece of information that was the secret to his 10 national titles: “don’t worry about whether you’re better than somebody else, but never cease to be the best you can become”. If that’s good enough for Coach Wooden, it’s good enough for me.
5) People matter most
In his seminal TED Talk, anthropologist Dan Buettner listed 9 key traits that help you live to 100 years old. In his opinion, perhaps the most important factor that he noticed with Centenarians: surround yourself with the right people. Imagine that! More important than diet, nutrition, and even adverse life circumstances. The same holds true whether this is your spouse, your friends, or your co-workers. You are the 5 people that you surround yourself with the most. You can have an incredible working environment (with perks like Google), but if you hire the wrong people, the environment becomes worthless. On the flip side, by hiring the right people, you quickly see that A-players love working around one another. They make better products. They also hire better people. They are more optimistic and know how to cultivate an environment of gratitude. All in all, it’s been an incredible ride. At the end of the day, we all face the same rollercoaster that is life. The question I ask you: would you rather scream in fear and close your eyes… or throw your hands in the air, smile, and eagerly enjoy the present? I know which one I choose.