At Brooklyn Beta last week, the “do what you love, do what matters” theme resonated loud and clear. People like Ian Coyle talked about how planning can actually keep you from doing work (and that talking about doing something can actually take the spot of really doing it). Aaron Draplin knocked my socks off with his raw emotion about living his life and designing it along the way, and not saying “no” to people who seem to really need what you have to offer (versus just pouring more into the wasteland of noise). Cory Booker challenged everyone to get out more than every four years and do something for ‘merica. Alex Payne said that although he stepped aside from Simple, it was only after spending 2.5 trying years “building a bank that treats people well,” which so many investors and others found idealistic and crazy when it was a blip of an idea.
I once loved FastCustomer madly, and I thought it mattered that people never had to be at the mercy of waiting on hold for customer service. I loved being able to bring that to 100K+ people. But I stopped loving the idea of changing customer service beyond what we’d already created. So when I chose to stop working on it in July, I felt a huge void, both emotionally and from a time perspective. I thought about how I’d fill that void. I had loads of ideas and started sketching them. Awesome friends and family encouraged me, too. And they told me to take some time to think. So I took time to think. I went to the driving range, yoga, and crossfit. I wrote more and took on several speaking gigs. I started answering “What are you doing NOW” with “I don’t know yet.”
But after last week, I felt a new sense of peace that NOT having the answers was pretty much the best possible situation of life. I came to realize that I already was doing what I love — that is, collaborating on projects with awesome people, and having control over my time. I realized I already was saying “yes” to things that I think make a difference in people’s lives. The commitment to doing great things is key. Almost everything else is unnecessary, fear-of-failure pressure.
But I hadn’t taken comfort in the limbo state — not knowing — until I was surrounded by so many smart, talented, friendly people who also had no idea what’s to come … but were committed to kicking ass anyway.