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Silent treatment

You’re not going to hear from me this holiday season. No phone calls, no emails, not even a tweet! I’ve decided that for my birthday I’m going to treat myself to a 10-day Vipassana meditation course. If any of you are familiar with these courses, you’ll catch the sarcasm in the word “treat”. It’s 10 days of silence: no speaking, no writing, no reading, no technology, no exercise, no stimulants. It’s redeeming quality? I’ve chosen to do the course in Sri Lanka, so the food should be wonderful, though we eat our last meal each day at noon :p.

How did I come to this decision? While I have dabbled in mindfulness meditation before, I had never seriously considered a course like this until a few weeks ago. Luck favors the prepared, and I was luckily prepared when a new mentor walked into my life. He challenged me to focus more of my efforts on introspection, reflection, and self awareness. As I explored ways in which I could do this, it became obvious that while I have put a great deal of effort into physical fitness, I haven’t put nearly as much into mental fitness. Enter meditation. Each person’s experience is unique and I have no expectations of an epiphany, but I do expect to be challenged and stretched in ways I haven’t been before.

Of all the self exploration I’ve done over the last month, the single most impactful exercise was drawing a personal history timeline. If you’ve never done it before and have a quiet moment over the holidays, I would seriously recommend giving it a try! Basically, I drew a line, labeled birth at one end and 35 at the other. I marked major events in my life that I had no control over (births, deaths, meeting key people, etc). Then I added firsts (first international trip, first drawing class, etc). On top of that I layered opportunities (college, jobs, etc). Once you have a baseline, you can start adding categories that seem relevant to you personally. The resulting visual helps to draw out trends and themes that you probably never realized existed. While I can’t promise that you’ll be happy with what you discover (some of the realizations made me extremely sad), it is an extremely thoughtful present to give yourself.

In other news, as of mid January I’ll be joining Insight Robotics as Chief Product Officer. IR combines robotic interfaces with high-end cameras and sophisticated algorithms to detect forest fires and disease in crops before they have the chance to spread. The CEO is a serial HK entrepreneur with a great track record and everyone I’ve met on the team so far has been fantastic. I’m charged with leading the development of our first mass-produced product, implementing a strong research pipeline and product development process, and instilling design thinking throughout the rapidly growing organization. It will be an exciting new challenge where I’ll have the opportunity to experience the next growth stage of a start-up first hand.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday season wherever you are! Look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in 2015.


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