Back in 2009, I made the trek from Chicago to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl college football game between my beloved Michigan State Spartans and the Georgia Bulldogs. I’m not a Disney guy – so what’s a man to do with extra time in Central Florida on a hot day in December?
Go-Kart Racing. Really fast Go-Kart Racing.
I knew I was enjoying my time navigating the track when I started shouting with glee to nobody in particular. And even once I was conscious of what I was doing, I still screamed. It felt amazing.
I was completely focused on what was happening on the track: stepping on the gas emphatically to get every mile per hour possible out of the engine, maneuvering the steering wheel with authority to beat the guy next to me without hitting him (at least not too hard) or running into the wall, and strategizing how to pass the car in front of me.
My time on the track was so blissful that I’m still talking about it six years later.
Here’s why: It was the first time in way too long that I actually left my worries & ambitions behind to focus 100% of my energy on living in the moment.
When I talk to entrepreneurs that I know – and I mean really know – I hear three words that come up time and time again to describe their experience getting a business off the ground:
Isolating. Exhausting. Consuming.
And with good reason: starting a business takes absolutely everything you have and often take everything from you. Give 99% and you’ve punched your ticket to the start-up graveyard. Fortunately, the truth about the sacrifices and effort required to lead a start-up are starting to become part of the entrepreneur narrative today. Even the mainstream media is starting to move past the enticing narrative (see: Social Network and Startup Podcast – both of which I really like for the record) that start-ups are a fast path to fortune.
Today, the glorification of start-ups is balanced by the reality that start-ups are often doused in both failure for the company and depression for the early-stage business leaders.
I’m convinced that a non-trivial part of the reason that failure and depression occur amongst entrepreneurs is that it’s damn near impossible to live in the moment. If you’re reading this, odds are you consider yourself a hard-charging disciplined entrepreneur and can relate.
You’re always trying to squeeze in one last activity in your day, always thinking about ways to improve, and always making shit happen. If I’m breathing, I’m ideating, thinking, planning, and most importantly – executing. You know because you feel the same way.
The moment I’ve accomplished one thing – my mind is already fully committed to figuring out what’s needed to accomplish the next goal, whatever that may be. And I firmly believe that this mentality is the reason I’ve experienced successes to date. But it comes with a cost that’s often hidden from us hard-chargers.
Lots of times, and quite possibly the majority of time, my mind is racing to the next thing even while I’m executing on the present. And I’m not talking about taking a break to plan for the future…I’m talking about processing multiple things at once.
Or better said, trying to process multiple things at once.
It happens more than I’d like to admit. In a morning meeting with a team member – I’ll catch my mind jumping ahead to think about the partnership meeting that’s next. And during that partnership meeting, I’m thinking about the board meeting presentation that I need to prepare for.
And it keeps going…
All my focus on taking the next step prevents me from living in the moment. What does it say about my commitment to what I’m doing in the moment? And more importantly, if I’m not living in the moment — where am I living?
Recently, my wife rightfully called me out. She’d just made something excellent happen at work and after hearing about it, I chose to start asking about her next goal rather than celebrating her successes. Not cool. When we work hard to accomplish something, we need to take the time to celebrate what we’ve accomplished –if only for a moment.
Every day we have something to celebrate. Every conversation we have deserves a little celebration. Every person we interact with deserves a celebration. Every day deserves a celebration because guess what: When you celebrate you live in the moment.
You might even find yourself racing around the corner and screaming with joy like a 12-year old boy. And what’s the harm in that?
Go and celebrate with a big shout, or a little smirk….but do celebrate.
You might just find a better you along the way.