Slowing The Race That Never Was

I think we've become addicts.

We all know the feeling I'm talking about and how to get our fix.

I need it, and I need it right now.


A private driver in a fancy car within minutes. Click.

Thousands of available singles to date, within exactly five miles of where we are standing at any given moment in time. Click.

Delivery of a new shirt within an hour of ordering it. Click.

A personal valet to park, wash, and gas up our car so we don't need to park it ourselves. Click.

And if something is any slower than the promised two minutes, we can get irritable.

"They" promised it would be here!

In parallel, technology has launched a drop-down drag-out fight for our attention through social channels, and external validation manifests itself through likes, favorites, shares and retweets.

We love external validation.

Now it somehow seems okay if we don't get that extra "attaboy" at work, because we can use our mouse as a megaphone and get all of the "likes" we need to be better than just good enough.

It's become comfortably normal to live head down.

We fear "missing out" -- with our attention being tugged in all directions, we've come to fear that there is always something better just a single click away.

We are "all access" -- many of us (myself included) sleep with our communication devices next to our pillow, so we are effectively on-call at all hours.

It's not the Knowledge Economy, it's the On Demand Economy.

I don't take any issue with the technology, in fact, I think it's incredible, and I encourage it.

But, here's where I get concerned: it's easy to marry the notion of these efficiency technologies as definitive of our own success, just because we have become masters of our own universes in controlling our needs by simply hitting "click" and getting instant gratification.

It is a strange dynamic: everything is faster and more efficient, but we are busier and more impatient than ever. That's the On Demand Economy at play. We've accepted an inherently flawed illusion that being busy somehow equates to being successful.

But let me be clear: there is a difference between living a busy life and a full life.

Live a full life.

A full life is busy, but a busy life isn't necessarily full.

Gandhi once said to a group of his backers, "I need to set aside one hour a day to do meditation."

One of the backers said, "Oh no, you can't do that! You are too busy, Gandhi!"

Gandhi said, "Well, then, I now need to set aside two hours a day to do meditation."

Let's take a moment to slow the race that never was.

Here, I offer some lessons I've learned about living a full life. A full life is something I have to practice and work hard at every day. But when I practice, I get better. Technology is my tool, but it is not my master. I've learned to use it as a tool to make my life better.

Make Impact, Leave Legacy:

We all have something special to contribute. We can all be architects to build bridges for those that come after us and ensure that we learn the lessons of those who have created for us.

Making impact and leaving legacy are paramount to living a full life.

It means an existence much bigger than ourselves. It means looking in the mirror at night and knowing we did something that was meaningful that day, and each day. It means having passions that run deep, and realizing that we are not the center of the universe. It means keeping a good and honorable name.

The question of legacy versus currency does not have to be mutually exclusive; the key is to find a path in life that marries our passions with our skill-set and truly devote ourselves to creating a legacy in whatever roles we are playing, professionally or personally.

Most important: we must hold ourselves accountable to this mantra. If not today, then when?

Surround Yourself With People You Love:

The best way to recharge my batteries is quality time with my family and dear friends.

There is no substitute for our childrens' laughter, no app for ice cream dates, no alternative to telling people why they are special to you, and no ceiling on the meaningful experiences we can create with loved ones that string together a full and meaningful life.

There is a direct correlation to the amount of time we're able to spend with loved ones and our own happiness. We must be okay leaning on "our" people, and we must make ourselves available to them to lean on. Love hard, hug often, and apologize quickly.

Living a full life means living a life full of quality time with loved ones as the priority.

Give First:

Give first. It means that we give before we get. Giving first means that we give of ourselves, of our time, our knowledge, of our network, with no expectation of anything in return. Giving first means checking our egos at the door and raising our hands to ask how we can help.

Giving first is one of life's great journeys.

I've come to treasure these two words as a daily mantra and a key ingredient to a full life.

Sometimes we may not be sure we even have something to give, but we make it known that we want to give, and we may be able to offer more than we think. As they say, rising tides raises all boats.

There is no ceiling on how much we can give. There is no limit on how much impact we can have. Have strength in your beliefs and causes that you feel deeply about supporting. There is no restraint on how much legacy we can help create.

Work with People Who You Believe In:

No matter what type of work we do, it's the people that we work with each day that are a key ingredient in the recipe of a full life.

One of the most common resentments people can carry is of their colleagues; it doesn't need to be that way.

If we take a step back, it's no secret that some of the most successful professionals are also some of the happiest, and happiness goes hand-in-hand with a respect for our belief in our colleagues. They raise our game -- the more winners we surround ourselves with, the higher our own likelihood for success becomes.

With so many tremendous companies of all shapes and sizes, so many of which put a significant emphasis on culture, now is the time to check ourselves and ask: do we believe in our colleagues and our professional mission? One of the great changes I've observed is that people today care more about where their paycheck is coming from, and not just that they are receiving a paycheck. If you're not sitting in the seat you want to be in right now, don't worry! Make it your mission to find people that you do believe in and let them know know that you believe in them and their mission, and open a dialogue about how you can contribute to their journey.

When you are working with people that you believe in and who believe in you, make sure to over deliver. We often hear the advice to under promise and over deliver. Promise. Deliver. Then deliver more. Rinse and repeat. Then people remember you.

Enjoy the Journey:

Life is a journey, not a destination, and it is important that we celebrate the journey just as much as the perceived results.

The small moments, the quiet moments, the smiles, the laughs, and the small personal or professional successes. While sometimes challenging, the journey can be a beautiful one. It's through our journey that we fill our lives with special people and experiences. It's on our journey that we can step outside of our comfort zones and allow magic to happen.

Pause and reflect on the view, whatever view that might look like. Take mental snap shots of the view at various points and remember to look back on them to see just how far you've come.

Take deep breaths. Build meaningful relationships. On our journey, it's not the challenges, but how we deal with those challenges that help to define us.

Treat obstacles as opportunities, and embrace gratitude, even for minor things. We should share our journeys and enjoy sharing in the journeys of others.

And most importantly, find the things that make you smile and do them, a lot.

Be Present:

Being present means being able to unplug and unwind. It requires taking care of ourselves, physically and mentally.

It means spending meaningful time to create meaningful experiences, and to anchor our lives in as many experiences as we possibly can.

It means showing up.

It means looking people in the eye and remembering their names. It means holding the embrace for that extra second, without being rushed.

It means making the investment of our time and the commitment of ourselves to not multitask between our what's right in front of us and what's on our screen. It means being consistent about when we unplug (i.e.: Friday night through Sunday morning, meal time, vacations, etc...).

Worrying will never solve tomorrow's problems but will only take away from the energy to solve today's. Worrying is the equivalent of paying interest on a debt that is not owed. It's simply not worth the mental energy.

The way I see it, the idea of the fall creates the fall.

Live Big:

Live your passion, personally and professionally.

Go after what you want with the eye of the tiger, and never (ever) apologize to anyone for dreaming big.

Be authentic, be bold, and be fearless. True greatness doesn't come from our comfort zones.

Push the boundaries of what we think we know, and never be afraid to color outside the lines.

And don't wait for someone to call your number; put yourself in the game.

Good luck, to all of us.

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* Thank you to James Altucher and Dustin Farivar for being tremendous sounding boards for this piece. With deep gratitude to you both, always.