It’s been almost two months since I announced that MDNA was acquired by Liz and her company Envision. Since that time, a lot has happened. There’s been fantastic progress on all fronts. If you go check out MDNA Cloud, you will see a whole new focus with look and feel. Liz has done a bang up job. I feel very gratified and thankful to see it.
So what now?
Obviously I still plan on being involved with MDNA. There’s a lot of potential upside still untapped. But I have decided that I need to look at another startup. That startup would be my own life. I consider it a personal “(re)Startup” of sorts. I’d like to use this space to share my thoughts and journey.
I am desynchronized!
The first seed for MDNA was planted in 2009. It started off as seven paragraphs on seven sheets of paper. Today it’s a full-blown cloud-based software. But it’s been a long eight years. During that time, there are parts of my life that have become sub-optimal. Part of this is the grind of bootstrapping a startup. But mostly it comes down to two areas: my personal choices and trauma (which we all have to some extent) that has revealed issues with my emotional and relational maturity.
To break this down, we are all triune (three-in-one) beings made up of:
- Body – Physical Self and Expression
- Soul – Mind, Will and Emotions
- Spirit – Deeper Purpose, Passions, and Potential
Most people who know of me understand I maintain a belief system of personal faith. And those that really know me also understand I have a healthy disdain for institutional religion (rules and rituals that judge people and the world as good or evil). Yet regardless of our beliefs most people wouldn’t argue the distinctions between body, soul and spirit.
I have become acutely aware of a desynchronization between body, soul and spirit in my life. This is where I need a Life (re)Startup.
First Step: Define My Emotional Problems
In any startup, it is important to start with a real problem. Typically it’s our own problems we want to solve with technology that happen to be something others need as well. The overall value of solving that problem is actually irrelevant as long as other people can identify with it. Instagram was all about sharing photos using filters because cameras on mobile devices were really bad at the time. Does the world really need this problem solved? The hundreds of millions of users render this debate futile. But there are other really great problems startups are solving from food waste to platforms for social good.
In my case, there are six emotional problems I need to explore. Through my training in neuroscience and life/executive coaching, I have learned that these are the primary emotions we must all learn to navigate, or else we get “stuck” there like the islands in the movie Inside Out.
- Hopeless Despair
The only way to address these “Prime Six” is the emotion of joy. This is where Inside Out really gets it right. You can feel angry but if you have joy, which is the feeling of being glad to be with each other in strength and weakness, regulation and appropriate responses occur. Of course the opposite is true. Without joy, we all act inappropriately when experiencing any of these six primary emotions.
Exploring these prime six emotions in the context of my triune self, then I start to see some real glaring issues. For example, I feel disgust when I think about my physical self. I probably weigh more than I have in my whole life, yet I am completely afraid to get on a scale. This adds the feeling of total shame. I am ashamed of my body and physical health.
My excuse is time. I just don’t have time to take care of myself. This points to a whole other set of fears of being a husband, father and provider for the family so I overwork. Hopeless despair settles in. And when you combine hopelessness and shame you get the emotion of being overwhelmed. In many ways I am overwhelmed here despite the masks I wear to appear anything otherwise.
I’ve been discussing this with my whole family for a few weeks now.
It’s time to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) that uses joy to tackle these problems. I have some ideas, but I am going to try them first before sharing them here. But I will share that my first MVP is to create a journal framework of sorts to organize my emotions of anger, disgust, fear, sadness, hopeless despair and shame so I can resynchronize my body, soul and spirit (in the order of spirit, soul and body which is for another post).
The other main area I plan to resynchronize is time (this is a big one but also for another post). I am looking forward to the MVPs here.
This will not be easy for sure. Then again, no startup is ever easy so a complete Life (re)Startup should be no exception.
Here we go.