A word from a CEO #47

Handling the inevitable ups and downs

I’ve been thinking a lot about mentality lately and in a number of cases over this past month, I’ll admit it’s not a fight I have been winning.

I have felt myself being short in meetings. Jumping to a conclusion too quickly. Resistant to feedback. Thinking something isn’t fair. Confused about missing something that, in hindsight, was obvious. More frustrated than normal about things that in the grand scheme of things don’t really matter. The list goes on. We’ve all been there, right? Woof.

So I’ve been thinking… How can I be better at handling the inevitable ups and downs? A startup is an incredible place. You get to move fast, you get to build, you get to disrupt. It’s a place where the highs are super high, but it’s also a place where the lows can be lonely and very humbling.

How do I keep that in perspective? I started to look externally and at least for now (I am under no impression that this will be an easy or a short term fight) I am trying 3 things:

1. Flipping the script

I just finished a book called Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, who is a former Navy Seal. In the book he talks about embracing the suck (more here). Basically it’s about strengthening your mind, putting in the work, and finding comfort in being uncomfortable. It’s a mantra so that when you’re doing something hard you can find strength and a sense of progress.

Lynn Tan, Drift’s Senior Marketing Ops Manager, also reminded me of another book I read a little while back called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Sometimes you just need to flip the script. Hard is good. Challenging is an opportunity. Failure is learning. It’s all about mindset.

2. Managing “the monkey”

DC sent this article a while back and I thought it was great. It’s a blog / Q&A on Sequoia’s website from John Donovan, the CEO of AT&T. One of the questions is: “What don’t you know that you wish you knew?” I love his answer below. You can spend all day worrying about something (or being frustrated) but that is just not productive. The better you manage “the monkey” the more present and productive you can be both in and outside of the office.

3. Showing more gratitude

Another thing I am working on both personally and professionally is intentionally taking more time to reflect and be thankful (shoutout Fabulous app). It’s too easy to get wrapped up in what’s broken or what we haven’t done yet. At Drift in particular, we move so fast that if something is already working and humming, it’s old news and it’s on to the next one.

I don’t take enough time to reflect on the good and consciously be thankful for what we have.  We are so lucky at Drift. Lucky to have great customers. Lucky to work with great people. Lucky to be able to move fast. I could go on and on and on. It’s important not to forget all of those things. In my opinion, taking time to reflect and show gratitude is one way to ensure I am not only focused on the destination, but am also enjoying the journey.

Anyway, thank you for listening, and if you have any other suggestions for me on how to stay positive and focused no matter what else is going on, I am all ears.

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