Enthusiasm. Zest. Vigor.
These words, I like to think, are associated with me, Jacob. But recently I have become disenchanted with them and, as a result, haven’t felt like my true self. Now, for the million dollar question…but, why?
Working for a start-up is incredibly fun, but extremely challenging and demanding (especially when you’re not getting paid for it). You slowly become wrapped up and engrossed in the business and essentially become the company and, as a result, can easily be influenced by how you’re supposed to act, what you’re supposed to say, and what you’re supposed to do. I unfortunately feel like I have fallen into this metaphorical narrative. I have cast aside certain traits that have helped me be successful in the past in the name of the #founderlife.
I’m not sure where this image comes from, but perhaps it’s all these narratives you hear about founders sleeping on friends' couches, founders investing their entire life savings into their idea, or going through other extremes to allow their dreams to come to fruition. While I am not discrediting their achievements, nor their tenacity, I am concerned with how I see myself compared to them. I find myself relishing to become the next founder whose story stands out from the stack of thousands of others. I want to grind. I want to be so full of grit that it oozes out of my ears. But at what cost? 🤔
Recently, I have been reading a book titled 📚 Humor, Seriously, co-authored by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, where the premise is how one can bring levity to their lives and their workplace. Now, some of you may roll your eyes about another non-fiction book that discusses and focuses on organizations, businesses, or the workplace, but the reality of it is you spend 328 days socializing with friends (over the course of your lifetime) compared to 13 years and 2 months at work (!!). Despite not yet finishing the book, I had a lightbulb moment that this was exactly what was missing in my day-to-day: levity.
Back to the founder stories. If you aren’t bringing the zest and making an effort to bring levity to your workplace (or family or friend group), naturally you will lead an unhappier life and become disenchanted by those precious descriptors of Jacob’s past personality (don’t think so? Give Humor, Seriously a read and realize how important humor is to our health (physical and mental)). 🥊 This realization hit me squarely in the jaw. I wasn’t bringing levity to work. I took myself far too seriously. I was simply focused on keeping my head down and becoming the ten-thousandth person to be recognized for their tenacity and hard work despite the odds to grow their business and flourish.
But is any of that worth it if you aren’t making your own fun along the way?
It’s time to lean back into zest, enthusiasm, and vigor. See the fun in the monotonous and the humor in the mundane. This is what makes people successful. Zest is what keeps people from burning out. I wish there were more stories of founders highlighting levity, because I am done hearing about the “hustle culture.”
☝️ Now time for some Buddhist advice:
"Act always if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference."
I am challenging myself to not take myself too seriously, after all we’re just delivering library books. Here’s to bringing the zest and creating a culture chock-full of levity!