Lean into the wind..

I have been wanting to write about the email that I sent to some of my female friends last week. But somehow I wasn’t getting the time to do it. But now after reading this, I am forced to put aside all chores and write. We live in such an incoherent world; sometimes it is tough to believe that all these contrasts exist under this one big blue sky.

I consider myself fortunate to live in a world where we don’t have to abide by such preposterous laws. And California, in many ways, is as good as it gets. The valley especially is full of bright and energetic women. I am happy to live in a land where girls will grow up learning about the success stories of Meg Whitman, Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, Hilarie Koplow McAdams, Sarah Frier and many other fascinating women. Women who have done really well in their lives – both personally and professionally.

I recently got an opportunity to be with some of these awesome women under one roof. Salesforce had organized a Women in Technology event on the eve of Dreamforce, our annual user conference. The event was attended by some really charged and inspiring leaders. All leaders have one thing in common: they are not afraid to share their stories. I thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling session that evening.

I jotted down a few lines that left an impression on me. Some of us don’t need such pointers, we are born awesome. But some do. I am one of those who really needs such gyaan every now and then. I was very young when I created a certain shivilosophy around some of these themes and I have to time and again rewind the clock and go back and revisit my self proclaimed philosophy.  Sometimes I end up revising it too. This conference was just perfect for my “stale state” of being. (Yes I have a feeling that I am becoming stale. I do the same things. I meet the same people. I read the same authors. I cook the same things. I wear the same colors. I listen to the same music. I follow the same blogs etc etc.)

So the gist of what I learnt is summarized below. I won’t go over each and every bullet since most of them are self explanatory. But I will elaborate on a few.

  • #1 If you don’t take out time for yourself, life takes over. Don’t complain when it does
  • #2
  • Be regimented.

  • #3 If It is worth doing, it is worth measuring. Measurement will help you to stay honest.
  • #4 Think bigger and broader.
  • #5 Don’t get stale. Add something new to each week (be it a lunch with someone you hardly know, or reading about a concept on wikipedia)
  • #6 Exercise for 150 minutes a week. Or something like that. Meet a goal!
  • #7 No one else will make the time for you that you deserve
  • #8 You can either live careful or you can live large
  • #9 Collect stories for your life. That is the true compensation for your efforts.
  • #10 Lean into the wind and take risks, without worrying too much if there is a safety net on the other end to catch you.

  • #2 Be Regimented: I have a hard time with this one. I am good at chalking out plans and then I follow them for a few days, get bored of the routine and break my promises. I find it extremely hard to be regimented. I have proved myself wrong a couple of times in the past, and have followed a regime over a few months and once over a year, but that’s about it. Currently I am having a tough time being regimented about brushing my teeth every night before bed. I can definitely use some guidance here.

    #3 Measurement will help you to stay honest: This caused a great deal of interest amongst a lot of  my friends. And honestly I am myself in two minds on this one. But let me try to explain what Sarah Frier meant by this. (As an FYI – Sarah is the CFO of Square.) We need to make goals that can be measured. Because metrics cannot be argued upon. So instead of saying, “I want to get fit.” Say , “I want to work out 150 mins a week, in order to lose 15 pounds in 3 months.” Measurement of your effort (150 mins a week) and measurement of the results of that effort (losing 15 pounds over 3 months), will keep you honest.

    Let’s take another example. Instead of saying, “I want to learn more about entrepreneurship.” Say, “I want to read (x) papers and (y) books and attend (z) conferences on the theme of entrepreneurship.” Measure your goals. Stay honest to yourself.

    I have a conflict here. I believe that as humans we measure more than we should. And when we measure, we stop living. My belief was reaffirmed by Mitch Albom’s latest offering, “The Timekeeper”. So make sure that by measuring you are not taking the fun out of the activity. Tough balance to achieve. But who said it was going to be easy.

    #5 Don’t get stale: This is very dear to me. As I discussed above, it takes only a few days of routine for me to start feeling stale. I keep myself fresh by reading and writing. But I need to meet more people and learn from them. I am working on it. Not quite there. But I know what I need to do about it.

    #9 Collect stories for your life:  I am a firm believer of this and I think I am doing fairly well in this area. I already have quite a few stories that I can tell my kids. Circumstances have also played a big role in them. My favorite story is I got married 15 days after I lost my father. I can look back and thread a string of stories around the last twenty some years of my existence. I also wrote about stories here

    #10 Lean into the wind :  Hilarie extends Sheryl Sandberg’s philosophy of “don’t leave before you leave.” She suggests that not only should you not leave before you leave, but while you are staying, lean into the wind. It could mean working for a startup and giving up on benefits offered by corporate giants. It could mean quitting the only job you knew how to do well, to take up something different and new. It could also mean betting on your future in the cloud.

    Lean into the wind..I love her choice of words here. I am a big fan of finding women role models and Hilarie tops my list right now.

    I have pledged to lean in a bit more than before and take some risks. I am starting small, by questioning the status quo, and establishing rules and processes. I am risking some change that I know is needed, and I can bring about. I am not concerned about a safety net on the other side. I am simply leaning into the wind and I will continue to do so, until a day comes when my inner wind changes direction towards something different.

    I thoroughly enjoy such platforms where I can learn from women who continue to inspire me as I chalk out my path in this world.

    4 thoughts on “Lean into the wind..

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