Monday, August 27, 2012

I haven't worn pants in two months- and other stories from working at a startup

I haven’t worn pants in exactly two months. I suppose there are more appropriate ways to announce I am now working at a startup but a bit of embellishment about my pure joy of not having worn a pair of dress slacks for months was more likely to grab your attention.

When I was contemplating the jump to a startup a good friend urged me to take some time to think about it. “Why don’t you wait a few years, build up your savings a bit more, and then think if something like this makes sense?” He had a fair point. I worked with great people and was working a job that I liked. But I could feel the passion that I used to use as a beacon for life choices slowly fading away. If I waited until I was in my thirties, got accustomed to a nice salary and the perks that accompany it, who’s to say I’d still have the courage to make that jump? I believe we’re equally accountable to both heart and mind, and the heart was demanding I fight for it’s very survival.

Transitioning to a startup can be intimidating. We all have those days where we feel unfulfilled, but very rarely do we ask what we would be willing to give up in search of meaning? It’s one thing to declare you’ll follow your dreams, it is quite another thing to do just that when you realize that dreams, the really good ones at least, often come with great risk, cost, and sacrifice. This can be manifested in simple ways like letting go of your comfortable salary or company sponsored health insurance for example. Or it can be as vexing as a creeping feeling you’re not the passionate person you once were or the capable person your new company thinks they hired. When push comes to shove, it sure seems lot easier to never take the risk to discover if our greatest fears about who we are or who we are becoming are true or not.

My first weeks at InVenture have been exciting. And it’s not just about reporting to work most days in jeans and flip flops. There is something bigger going on. I’m surrounded by other people in their 20’s and 30’s who believe their work matters enough to have meaning. There are people all around me who are as curious as they are passionate, and that informs my work in incredible ways.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I do know that for so long I felt that emptiness in my soul that one feels when they aren’t pursuing the work they are called to do. We can ignore the longing by trying to fill the emptiness with meaningless distractions. Or, on trembling knees, we can face our greatest hopes and fears, often woven into one package.

Work here is anything but easy, but that hollow spot in my soul is being filled by a passion almost lost, compassion refueled, and curiosity pushing me to the limits of my own understanding. This is not to say I have attained the meaning I so desperately crave, but damned if I am not pursuing it... in my jeans and flip flops! 

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