As this pandemic continues to drag on, anxiety, stress and depression are on the rise. Prioritizing one’s mental health is more important than ever.
My 11-year-old son, Adam, and I spend a lot of time together on long car rides to his squash practices. One of our favorite things to do is to listen to the Meditative Story podcast, which combines powerful human stories with meditation prompts. We find ourselves reflecting on each episode and applying some of the key lessons in our daily lives; Adam at school and in squash, and I as an entrepreneur and CEO of an artificial intelligence (AI) startup.
Here are the key lessons we learned from our five favorite episodes.
Embark on the journey without attaching to outcomes.
In episode 3, Arianna Huffington transports us back in time to when she was a high school student in Athens. Young Arianna stumbles upon a magazine cover with a picture of Cambridge University. As she sets her eyes on Cambridge, she and her mom embark on a journey of exploration and learning, powered by lots of love and without attaching to the outcome. As a founder and entrepreneur, I try to embrace, even savor, the adventure. I try to focus on the mission and the journey and not fixate on one particular outcome.
Have faith, but tie your camels first.
Journalist Wajahat Ali shares a very moving story about when his toddler daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Wajahat references an Islamic proverb, “Have faith, but tie your camel first.” It means: do the legwork, put in the hard work and then let go. As leaders navigate a world of economic uncertainty where many things are outside of their direct control, it is imperative to stay focused on delivering value to customers, on innovating and shipping new products … and the rest will come.
On the power of connecting to your emotions.
In this episode, Michelle Thaller, Assistant Director of Science at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, shares how her quest to understand the vastness of the universe helped her deal with loneliness and feel a powerful connection to fellow human beings. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is exacerbating our feeling of loneliness; we all need to lead with empathy in our communities and organizations and re-create a sense of interconnectedness. My favorite quote from this episode (you’ll have to listen to get the full context): “When the universe began, I was holding your hand; when the universe ends, I’ll be holding your hand.” Oh, and the music is epic!
What is home, especially in the context of the future of work?
In this episode, travel novelist Pico Iyer finds himself on a 20-hour layover in Japan and decides to explore the area. He falls in love with a little town that he ends up calling home. As global citizens of the world, my kids and I have many conversations around the concept of home: Is it the place where you grew up? The place where you currently live? Where you have family? Where you feel safe? Is it a person you are with? Perhaps home is a feeling? Especially now, with work from home becoming the new normal and travel still very limited, the boundaries between spaces become blurrier than ever. As we rethink what work looks like, we need to ensure that our spaces — virtual or not — feel supportive and inclusive, just like home.
Look at life from a different point of view.
When Dr. Lucy Kalanithi’s husband passes away, she takes her four-year-old daughter Cady to visit his grave. Cady doesn’t know what to expect, so she comes to this with a fresh perspective, adding stickers to her father’s grave, celebrating his life and legacy. The story reminded Adam and me to always question our assumptions and to look at situations with a different point of view. COVID-19 has forced us to rethink our assumptions as it relates to our businesses.
We hope these episodes bring you joy, connection and inspiration, the way they did for us.