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So there is this myth, I think, that success equals happiness, always, without question. For most people, that is probably how it works: struggle, success, smiles, harder struggle, bigger success, bigger smiles, repeat. I wish it were that easy. 

About a year ago, I started doing some research into adult ADHD. I was diagnosed with ADD as a kid (we’re calling it all ADHD these days, apparently), probably right around 7th grade. I took Adderall to treat it for a while, and that may have helped, but I stopped taking it because I didn’t like how it made me feel. Cracked out and without an appetite is not ever really a great feeling. I also remember a conversation with a psychologist who told me, basically, “we don’t really know how or why these drugs work. And we may have to try different doses and combinations to find something that does work.” Cool. Happy to be your guinea pig, sir! Tried different doses, different drugs, and the best way that I can describe how all of them made me feel is “just not myself”. 

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Anyway, it turns out that I’m pretty much a classic adult ADHD case: Difficulty organizing, relationship strains, distractibility,  poor listening skills, difficulty starting tasks, lateness, smoking, trouble with repetitive tasks… really just a list of things that make you feel super great about yourself. There was one symptom that made me take a big step back: depression after success. Those three words don’t make much sense together, but reading them made me realize that it is something I’ve experienced for most of my life. When things are going well, it’s easy for me to feel down.

The going theory is that the ADHD brain craves conflict. Maybe conflict is the wrong word, because I’m really kind of a pacifist. The ADHD brain craves stimulation through deviation from patterns and extraordinary situations. It craves problems to solve. And, where is meaningful success really rooted, if not in solving problems. So, once the problem is solved and success is achieved, my brain doesn’t know what to do with itself, and defaults to depression.

I can pinpoint so many times in my life when I should felt happy, but couldn’t muster it: graduating high school, getting a promotion, relationship high points, successful events. Small successes or big ones, it doesn’t really matter. When things are going well, I can fall into a depression that can last for a couple days or a couple weeks without even seeing it happen. Sometimes, it is easy to recover, to bounce back to my normal self. Other times, not so much. If I don’t keep it in check, depression can start wrapping it’s tentacles around various parts of my life. It’s really easy for me to neglect friendships with people I truly care about. My job can quickly fall to the wayside. Schoolwork definitely suffers. 

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So, what is the solution? I don’t know. I know that writing things out like this usually brings about some clarity. I know that medication is not that answer for me. 

Just realizing that this is how my brain tends to operate helps curb depression. I find that I can catch it earlier and earlier in the cycle as time goes on. Usually. There are still periods of backpedalling and there probably always will be. Hopefully just less and less frequently.

Really, I think it comes down to something that has repeated over, and over, and over again in my entrepreneurship classes: play to your strengths. 

I like solving problems, so thats what I’m going to do. My list of problems to solve isn’t going anywhere, especially with a new business underway. The new mantra is this: 

Work hard. Be successful. Relish it for a moment. Solve the next problem. Do it again.

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What you need to know to plan, launch and manage your project on sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. We launched our Kickstarter campaign for Knotty Tie Co. on March 1st, and as of right now we are 116% funded.  We’ve learned a lot in putting this all together, and we want to share what we know. 

When: 2-3 pm, Wednesday 3/13
Where: Tivoli Multicultural Lounge, Auraria Campus, Denver, CO

See the full flyer below:

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denver_skyline_sunset

To Denver: I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. I am so in love with you. Somehow you manage to strike a perfect balance between having just enough going on that I can’t quite do it all, and leaving me enough just enough time to work on my own things. I am accomplishing so much more, personally and professionally, than I ever have before, and I owe so much of it to you. A city with so many relatable, genuinely good, electrically charged, interesting, and motivated people is a rare thing. I’m glad you are the way you are.

On starting a company: I’ve always dreamed of starting a company. I’ve had a million ideas, some half-baked, some that I actually started taking serious action towards making a reality. I’ve helped a few people, to various extents, to push their ideas into fruition. But I’ve finally found myself in the middle of building a company from nothing. A company that I believe has a really good chance at success. In just a couple of months, a core group of three people has come together around this idea, and we’ve made meaningful strides towards launching a company that supports not only ourselves, but that has will to grow and employ other people as well.

It’s not been without difficulty. We started with a group of six partners, and because of issues with commitment, we’ve reigned it in to three partners. It is the closest I’ve ever been to firing anyone, and it sucked. Last night I was there for a very difficult talk in letting one of our partners go. It was painful, seeing the disappointment in his eyes, and hearing it in his voice. Unfortunately, it had to happen. In the early days of a newborn business, there simply is no room for dead weight. When three people are doing the work that should be spread among six, something has to change. This change shook a person’s confidence and crushed hopes and dreams. That will stick with me.

1. Recycle, donate, or gift something that I already own.

2. Start my days by writing 5-10 things that I am thankful for.

3. Read a real life, printed on paper, bound book, for pleasure. Even if it is only a few pages.

4. Stop complaining.

5. Set my alarm every day and get up by it, then get out of bed without looking at the computer.

6. Spend at least 30 minutes every day creating a source of passive income.

7. Carry a notebook in my back pocket. Use it.

8. Limit checking facebook to twice per day.

9. Do the most important thing on my to-do list before doing anything else.

10. Swim at least once per week, if not more.

11. Stop drinking soda.

12. Make breakfast at home instead of buying it.

13. Spend 15 minutes every day meditating.

The goal is to end up (at least) a marginally better person than I am now, in however small a way. We’ll see.

A recent Wired article got me thinking. It was about a book called The Information Diet which is (apparently) Atkins for media obsessed individuals like myself. The book makes lofty promises like better relationships and productivity by following a few simple steps. I’m not sure that I really believe all of the hype, but one of the pieces of advice resonated with me:

Grow Your Own Content:

Allot time for a blog or online journal. A healthy consumer contributes to the dialog, opening you up to feedback that helps you synthesize a new worldview.

So, this blog is that. Simply a collection of the things I am thinking about, reading about, doing, and experiencing. Maybe controversial, hopefully thought provoking and interesting. Bring on the feedback and let the worldview synthesis begin.