Technology, Innovation, Impact. Humor on the side.
It was perhaps the greatest lesson I learned in college and one that didn’t come from inside a classroom. As an electrical engineering major I of course learned V=IR, how to code, algorithms for processing digital images and videos, etc. But, the lesson that mattered most in the long run wasn’t a lesson but an attitude gained: live with a healthy disregard for the “impossible”.
The first time I heard the phrase was during LeaderShape, an intense one-week leadership development session hosted all over the US in partnership with universities (notable program alumnus: Google Co-founder Larry Page). When we “graduated” from the program, we hugged each other, swore that the program had changed our lives [for the better], and felt inspired to drive change in our communities and the world. Yet, as time passed the magic of the program rubbed off most. Sure, we’d remember having been LeaderShape participants – but the messages and lessons had slowly washed away instead of truly becoming internalized.
In the years after graduating from college, I began to feel suffocated by adulthood: I had a love-hate relationship with my job, severely lacked inspiration, and felt continuously stressed. I knew I wanted something different, yearned to make a positive impact on the world, yet was too afraid (or tired) to make a move. I was waiting for circumstances to change, for the perfect opportunities to magically come my way. Instead, I got something better. I found a letter I’d written myself while part of the LeaderShape (thank goodness for spring cleaning!). Typed version provided below:
Do you still remember LeaderShape? Are you living with a healthy disregard for the impossible? Have you started changing the world and accomplishing your wildest dreams? Are you happy with your life? If not…
SHAME ON YOU. Get your act together, Ankita. You’ve only got this one life. The circumstances may not be as great as some, but it certainly is way better than others. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Take advantage the resources you have and do something great with it. You may not have control over everything in your life, but there’s a lot you can control. So control whatever strings you can so you can BE HAPPY and MAKE OTHERS HAPPY.
Just about anything is possible if you want it bad enough. Dream bigger. Want bad-er. Work harder.
The letter made me snap out of my old existence. Instead of waiting on the perfect time to do XYZ and wasting large amounts of time doing things I hate, I’ve pivoted my life. Thankfully things are finally coming together. In the past month: I got admitted into some wonderful graduate schools, left my job, initiated my first 360-degree evaluation with input from coworkers+friends+family+peers, and got a summer opportunity to work at a startup disrupting the online education space in developing countries.
I’m determined to make 2014 my best year yet. What would you do if you weren’t afraid and lived life with a healthy disregard for the impossible? What are you going to do to make this second half of 2014 amazing?