Tibetan monks creating an intricate mandala they will soon wipe away to illustrate impermanence. Later they will throw the colored sand into a nearby river and start the process over again.
Life seems to have a lot of rejection, failure, and unmet expectations in between occasions of blissful acceptance, success, peace, and happiness.
But it’s all part of the human experience and according to Pema Chodrin we need to Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown (Amazon link). I heard about the book from Seth Godin’s blog post Failing, again. It’s a quick, easy read with a nice analogy of how we build resilience, understanding, and acceptance over time as we get better at dealing with the big waves that life sends us that sometimes knock us down. We struggle to get back up only to experience the next big wave trying to knock us down again! I also recently read her book Practicing Peace in Times of War (Amazon link) and found it insightful.
The Top 5 Stressful Situations (1. Death of a loved one, 2. Divorce, 3. Moving, 4. Major Illness, and 5. Job Loss) can leave us feeling like a failure and/or rejected. I’ve experienced 4 of those 5 events personally and two of them at the same time. [major stress emoji] Based on my experience, it takes a great support network, a positive attitude, and not being afraid to ask for help (even if you ask for it in an imperfect way) to navigate these life changes and come out the other end with most of your mental faculties still in tact. 😀 You learn pretty quickly who your friends really are during those tough times. And if you take the time to learn from those experiences, you build resiliency to weather the next big wave and are able to help others get back up too!
Here are some great articles I’ve read recently that can help all of us put feelings of rejection, failure, and lack of confidence into perspective.
The Confidence Gap – The Atlantic. This article discusses the unique challenges even the most talented and accomplished women face on the topic of confidence.
On Marrying the Wrong Person – The Book of Life. Will the way we pick our spouses evolve yet again? I hope so. This article discusses how we should pick our mate. The method they suggest makes more sense than how we humans have typically done so in the last thousands of years.
The findings are relevant for politics, business, criminal justice, and personal relationships. It helps scratch the surface of how we as humans justify our decisions, beliefs, and acts even when it’s not in our or others best interest to do so. As with most things, the actions and behaviors we think are protecting us can end up harming us and others. The book can cause you to question your and other people’s past actions as well as see events through a different lens. Good learning is not always happiness and sunshine, it’s often uncomfortable, embarrassing, painful, and daunting. Such is the human existence!
It certainly helped me gain insight into my own self-justifications as well as identifying others in theirs. The things we do to avoid admitting mistakes and feeling “less than” or “losing face” can be astounding, when a simple: “You were right. I made a mistake.” can go a long way towards healing wounds, finding solutions, and avoiding further damage. Things can deescalate even faster if the other side isn’t too caught up in their own self-justifications so they can hear you, communicate openly, and stop justifying their own story as to why they are right and someone/something else is wrong.
In many cases of conflict, it often seems like the “truth is somewhere in the middle.” Open, empathetic communication can go a long way in getting things back on a more positive track, but as human history has proven that is not easy to do.
Obviously, I highly recommend this book since I’m blogging about it. If you read it, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment or sending a tweet to @aruni.
What a historic week it’s been here in the United States of America! Whether you agree or don’t agree on the rulings, the research, the findings, the laws, and/or the songs sung, I think we can all agree that it was historic. Check out Fred Wilson’s post called What A Week for a better write-up than I have time to create about the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rulings on the Affordable Health Care Act, Marriage Equality, and President Obama singing Amazing Grace at Clementa Pinckney‘s funeral.
My absolute favorite hymn is Amazing Grace. I sing it to my kids often. To hear President Obama unexpectedly sing it with a voice less than the almost perfect ones we typically hear on mass media, reminded me how vulnerable and human (not perfect) we all are. We all deserve and should offer grace and forgiveness to others. I think it took courage for him to sing that wonderful hymn (video link embedded below) for so many reasons.
Here’s to experiencing more amazing grace for our country and the world…
I have not been involved in the day to day activities or in many of the big achievements since it’s founding because I chose to take more of a behind the scenes role. I gave birth (and have the illustrative scars) to the kids who inspired it’s creation, so I think that counts for something. 😀
I decided to take care of myself and our kids while my ex husband and others did much of the heavy lifting to get us where we are today. The kids seem reasonably well adjusted despite the chaos, and they have benefited greatly from being able to attend MIS! I guess we will know if they turned out alright, if they are sane in their 30’s.
It has been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy having a lot of fun as well as re-learning lessons that I should have learned the first time! Lesson learning is tricky because each time the situation seems to have slightly different variables and people involved so you unwittingly let your guard down thinking you should give the people involved and the scenario the benefit of the doubt. But then boom, you get a little blindsided. In hindsight it is much easier to spot the red herring. [insert red herring emoji] However, the recovery time is faster, you see the signs earlier which means you don’t put your guard down as much, your good friends become greater friends, the experience makes you stronger, there’s a lot of red wine involved, and you (well me) gets just a bit wiser.
I remember a time in high school where I was trying to tell someone who was about 5 years older than me “something about my life” (just like the Indigo Girls Closer To Fine song begins). He was a college aged Sunday school teacher. I was in awe of him for some reason that I can’t exactly recall why now. When he saw that I was struggling, he said “some things are better off left unsaid.” I figured he was older and wiser, so after he said that I decided not to tell him what I was trying to confess about my atypical life. I’m not sure if it would have changed the course of my life if I had told him, but I wonder to this day if it might have.
Although most people who know me think I’m fairly outspoken and direct, I believe I’ve left many critical things unsaid or unwritten leaving some to think I did not have thoughts or feelings about certain things or maybe even cared. I try to be as open as I can with my kids so they always know I care about them and love them even if I’m upset about something. I hope they always know that. I cherish the fact they still tell me they love me…sometimes even unprompted!
I’ve only had one person in my life tell me that I wore my heart on my sleeve, but I think that may be because he was the only person who saw it “standing there” or maybe he liked the shirt I was wearing that day. It reminded me of the lyric by Barenaked Ladies in One Week: “I have a tendency to wear my mind on my sleeve. I have a history of losing my shirt.” I think at that time in my life I was desperately wishing I could change into a sleeveless shirt because having an exposed heart on your sleeve is a really weird sensation!
What prompted this random post you might ask? I was looking at the posts I started that are saved in the Draft section of my blog and was wondering whether it was good or bad that those went unwritten (or should I say unpublished)? I’ll never know. It also made me wonder about what people don’t say at work to their bosses, to their employees, or to their co-workers as well as at home to their spouses, kids, parents, friends, love interests, etc. Are they/we afraid to say what’s really on their/our mind for fear of being fired, punished, judged as stupid, abandoned, or something else? Or maybe they/we just don’t care.
Chances are if I had published those draft posts, I would have forgotten by now that I did.
I don’t often publish promotional content on my blog, but when someone reached out to me for this campaign that goes through the end of March 2015, I thought it was worth sharing. You can help an entrepreneurial woman towards achieving her dream by checking this opportunity to help via Kiva.org out. Please watch the video and read the information about how you can participate below.
More than seven billion people live on Earth. That’s seven billion hearts beating. Seven billion bodies breathing. Seven billion minds creating thoughts and ideas all over the world. Yet, so many face struggle everyday all around us. Even so, there is one thing that will never cease to be created regardless of the struggles: dreams. Dreams created from the the slums of a bustling gray city, to the parched land of a an isolated farm, to the refugee camps of a war-torn nation.
On March 8, we honor the dreams of a group of people who have been told not to dream. A group of people who have been told “they can’t” more times than they have been told “they can.” A group who has faced abuse for being born the way they are. A group of people commodified and enslaved. A group who brings life into this world, but who are often powerless over their own. We honor women.
To celebrate International Women’s Day – and the days that follow – Kiva has launched Kiva.org/Dreams to spotlight the power of women because it’s their dreams that make our world better.
By visiting Kiva.org/Dreams, you can back a dream by choosing a woman whom Kiva should lend $25 to. There is no cost to you. By choosing her, you help her to follow her dream of starting or growing her business, sending her children to school, and ultimately, gaining financial independence.
When women have the resources to make their dreams a reality, the world changes. More children go to school, more food is grown, and nations are more peaceful and prosperous. A case in point: if women farmers had equal access to farming assets and finance, they could increase their crop yields up to 30% and 150 million people who go hungry every day would be able to eat.
Kiva.org is the world’s first and largest crowdfunding platform for social good with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Since 2005, Kiva and their growing global community of 1.3 million lenders have crowdfunded more than $675 million in microloans, backing the dreams of 1.6 million people.
By contributing to the success of an entrepreneurial woman who has overcome obstacles, we discover so much more about our own resiliency, possibility, and potential. Each of us has a part to play.
Together we can make dreams a reality for thousands of women around the world. So in honor of International Women’s Day and the power of women, back a dream at Kiva.org/Dreams.
Happy New Year! I thought I’d get a new post out before the 15th of January, but here we are half way through the first month of 2015!
My boss shared this link: The 7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs (Tenacity, Passion, Tolerance of Ambiguity, Vision, Self-belief, Flexibility, and Rule-breaking) with our team a while back. I was surprised that they said most entrepreneurs weren’t neurotic. I’ve met more than a few neurotic entrepreneurs and have felt like one myself at times…maybe they define it differently than I have seen others exhibit it.
There are so many moving parts to a new business that I think it helps to be able to multitask, but sometimes it hurts a business too. A friend sent me the article below about the Supertasker test that helps you figure out if you are one of the 2% of the people in the world who can actually multitask vs. ineffectively task switch. It made me wonder who those supertaskers were and if they could do the same thing they were able to do with two kids in the back seat asking you every 5 minutes to look at something, change the radio station, or telling their sibling to quit making some noise or the other. Check out these articles:
Entrepreneurs can be a little conflicted at times. Some of us are very analytical and logical. Some are very creative (artistic, musical, etc.) and conceptual. Some are both. For those of us who cross the corpus callosum often, it can cause some interesting right brain/left brain integration challenges and short circuits. I know this from personal existential experiences…we can sometimes be misunderstood. We know how to use a spreadsheet, but all of our ideas and feelings can’t always be confined to a logical process of deduction. Maybe it’s like wearing bi- or tri-focals when the switch happens…seconds or sometimes hours or days of disorientation?
Back in March 2014, I put two Songs In The Wild and although I’m light years away from being rich off of them, the experience and the journey of creation were huge learning experiences for me. I think creating music is an entrepreneurial endeavor fraught with danger, risk, fear of rejection, as well as a low chance of a big or any payback.
My kids created iMovie videos of my two songs in the wild: Save Me From Myself (YouTube) and Soul Escape (YouTube) a month or so ago and I’m finally finding the time to blog about them. They did a great job under a lot of pressure, with very little direction from me on a very low budget. I gave them an extension on their mini-contract because we wanted to use photos from our recent trip to Sri Lanka. We had some breakdowns in negotiations and delayed deliverables (mostly due to my lack of proper oversight of the process), and I had to tell them that whining, crying, and feigning ignorance doesn’t help when you are trying to finalize a deal. A good life lesson!
The videos will hopefully make you smile and laugh at the sometimes random, funny images they chose for the songs. I love them and I love that they and their friends have told me (they could have been lying to protect mom’s fragile ego) they liked the songs. A couple of my son’s friends even purchased them on iTunes! Please watch the videos and let me know what you think. They are embedded below and are on YouTube. Thank you in advance for taking the time to watch and listen to them! Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MetaphorMania
Co-written by Aruni S. Gunasegaram (lyrics & singing) and Brett Jason Wintermeyer (musical arrangement). Produced, arranged, & recorded by Ron Wikso. Chris Tondre (Guitars and Bass), Derek Morris (Keyboards), Chad and Natasha Hudson (Background Vocals), Ron Wikso (Drums). Album cover designs by Marla Shane .
I wonder why we don’t celebrate Boxing Day (aka St. Stephen’s Day) here in the US? It seems like a mighty fine holiday to me! The weeks leading up to the holidays seemed extra busy this year, so I had to take “holiday card” off the list of things to do this year.
In lieu of a festive blog post, here are some interesting reads:
Time’s Up for ‘Timeout’ – The Atlantic A progressive group of neurology researchers wants to redefine “discipline.” Decisions about parenting affect not only children’s minds, but those of adults as well.
I read and took the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment back in 2011, and what it told me my Top 5 strengths were seemed to make sense at the time, although I was surprised at what they call “Woo.” I just joined a new company where strengths are valued, and I had the opportunity to take the assessment again, but this time it was the original version: Now, Discover Your Strengths(Amazon link). It’s a useful tool to help you understand yourself and others.
Interestingly, two of my Top 5 strengths changed from the last time I took it. The two that dropped out were Strategic and Developer and the two that emerged were Includer and Arranger. I was kind of sad to lose the the two I did, but I think I used every bit of my Strategic strength to survive the last 5 years of huge change and transitions so I had to discover other strengths to navigate uncharted waters. I like the Includer strength description because I hate cliques and I love including as many people as I can in my professional and social life. As many of us know, our strengths can also be our weakness and I’ve been known to communicate a lot, try to include people who may not want to be included, and try to arrange things and people who don’t really care to be arranged.
You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write. This is your Communication theme at work. Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. You believe that most people have a very short attention span. They are bombarded by information, but very little of it survives. You want your information—whether an idea, an event, a product’s features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson—to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in. This is what drives your hunt for the perfect phrase. This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.
“Stretch the circle wider.” This is the philosophy around which you orient your life. You want to include people and make them feel part of the group. In direct contrast to those who are drawn only to exclusive groups, you actively avoid those groups that exclude others. You want to expand the group so that as many people as possible can benefit from its support. You hate the sight of someone on the outside looking in. You want to draw them in so that they can feel the warmth of the group. You are an instinctively accepting person. Regardless of race or sex or nationality or personality or faith, you cast few judgments. Judgments can hurt a person’s feelings. Why do that if you don’t have to? Your accepting nature does not necessarily rest on a belief that each of us is different and that one should respect these differences. Rather, it rests on your conviction that fundamentally we are all the same. We are all equally important. Thus, no one should be ignored. Each of us should be included. It is the least we all deserve.
Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don’t. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet—lots of them.
Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. Some may call it the collective unconscious. Others may label it spirit or life force. But whatever your word of choice, you gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it. This feeling of Connectedness implies certain responsibilities. If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves. We must not exploit because we will be exploiting ourselves. Your awareness of these responsibilities creates your value system. You are considerate, caring, and accepting. Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives. The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and your culture, but your faith is strong. It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life’s mysteries.
You are a conductor. When faced with a complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible. In your mind there is nothing special about what you are doing. You are simply trying to figure out the best way to get things done. But others, lacking this theme, will be in awe of your ability. “How can you keep so many things in your head at once?” they will ask. “How can you stay so flexible, so willing to shelve well-laid plans in favor of some brand-new configuration that has just occurred to you?” But you cannot imagine behaving in any other way. You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish a new project. From the mundane to the complex, you are always looking for the perfect configuration. Of course, you are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don’t do either. Instead, you jump into the confusion, devising new options, hunting for new paths of least resistance, and figuring out new partnerships—because, after all, there might just be a better way.
Change is constant. We are always transitioning from one thing to another and/or from one stage of life to another. I find that when those transition times happen for me, they tend to be good times to sort through and organize stuff I rarely make time to organize. My home office is just a little more organized as of yesterday. I’ve shoved things out of view into closets, file cabinets, and drawers which makes me feel better and helps create space to process the transition.
I’ve also been cleaning out my email inbox, and I found some articles I’ve been meaning to post about:
Thirty years of projects – Seth Godin. He writes about his numerous projects and career transitions. It was strangely comforting to see all the different things he’s attempted over the years and their different outcomes.
The Creativity Myth – Kevin Ashton. Mozart did not create his music by magic or overnight. Creativity takes time.
Nobody Knows What the Hell They Are Doing – Oliver Burkeman. “The genuinely untalented, meanwhile, probably have no idea that they’re no good—because they’re too untalented to realize it.” And “If you’re worried you don’t measure up, that could well be a sign that you do.”
“If you’re interested in building a business to make money, forget it. You won’t. If you’re interested in building a business to make a contribution to society, then let’s talk.” – Arthur Rock
My 12 year old son made an interesting statement while we were driving to soccer practice today. He said that Clash of Clans, a game he plays often on my iPhone and the mini-iPad that he and his sister share, is like business. He said it out of the blue. He hears me and his dad talk about businesses and companies often.
I asked him why he thought that and he said because you can join clans, you have to find clans, and then sometimes people are nice or not nice in those clans. You can leave clans, some you can just join, some you have to be invited to join, and others you have to ask to join. You can leave a clan if they are not nice or they don’t give you good materials. You can get kicked out of a clan if the clan doesn’t like you.
He asked me if there were wars in business, and I told him that there are competitors that companies “war” against, but they don’t typically try to literally kill each other like they do in the game.
I was impressed that he came up with the analogy. I guess he’s been paying more attention than I thought to our conversations about our experiences in business.
Below are some really great, entertaining, and thought provoking posts & articles. Please check them out and let me know what you think.
Good at math (Seth Godin) – This post arrived in my in box after my 9 year old daughter told me she wasn’t good at math. I told her she was too young to make that decision. I told her that only after she has taken Calculus that she could she tell me she didn’t like math or it wasn’t her best subject. She then asked me what Calculus was and she, her brother and I laughed out loud at that silliness.
Get Lucky (Fred Wilson) – Fred appears to be one of the luckiest people I know. A famous VC and blogger, great family, good health, etc. He links to an article Richard Wiseman wrote on lucky and unlucky people. He said the money quote was “My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.”
I was fortunate enough to be invited to be one of the coaches at this year’s InnoTech Women in Tech Summit event. InnoTech Austin, presented by Presidio, returns to the Austin Convention Center on October 15, 2014. The 11th annual event will include all new topics and speakers for a fresh and exciting conference.
I have not had the opportunity to attend InnoTech in the past. I’m looking forward to the experience and to networking with a bunch of new and interesting people. For those of you in Austin, I look forward to seeing you there!
Last night I attended a Women@Austin event where they gave the first Elevate award to someone who has had a great impact on women entrepreneurs. It went to my long time mentor and adviser, Jimmy Treybig, founder of Tandem Computers.
Jimmy is one of the few people to take a company from $0 to $2.3 billion. I feel so lucky to have had him as a mentor, friend, and adviser over the last 15 years. Check out page 26 for an article I co-wrote on him for the Rice Alumni magazine called Successful Companies Require Successful Teams! He gave a great speech last night on the importance of women in the entrepreneurial community and how the fundraising process works for both women and men.
I was asked to contribute a quote about Jimmy for the award. Janice Ryan, co-founder of Women@Austin, read an excerpt of my quote as well as quotes from others before he was given his award. Here’s my full quote:
“Jimmy is one of my favorite people to talk with about business and life. He’s always made himself available to discuss my ideas, encourage me, and offer me different ways of looking at things. He’s been a wonderful cheerleader for me during great times and challenging times. He tends to look at the whole person and evaluates them through a lens of whether they are smart, kind, have the ability to create great opportunities in their chosen market, and can lead/motivate a team of talented people…regardless of their gender, ethnicity, kid situation, or even if they have blue hair or tattoos! Plus, he always buys me nice lunches”
I look forward to the next Women@Austin event. There were some very accomplished and powerful women in the room last night. The energy was palpable!