Limits

I’m not actually sure what to say. I’m impatient and I have high standards. It’s a hard balance between keeping enough balls in the air that they all keep moving slowly, and driving things to completion.
I was telling some folks this week that I’m impatient, and when I want things done I want them done yesterday.
Well, what happened last week? Met the Silicon Valley rock star, who was everything I was expecting. Gave a somewhat disorganised but otherwise good presentation to the folks at 4Di. I HAD a plan, I just got distracted by talking about data. Played with some more data. Yet another conference call with makers of some very cool technology. Putting the puzzle together. Finished the budget. Had an inbound lead that blew my mind (of course we still have to qualify it).
Nearly bashed my head against the wall trying to open an account with a distributor. I did learn a lesson though: I’ve started just crossing out stuff I don’t like in contracts and then signing them. It seems to be a lot faster than alternate approaches.
Had my first article published. Exciting, but the first of many. Kind of like closing your first sale.
And here I am on the programme forthe London conference. I’ve definitely got some things to say about municipal Wi-Fi, and more and more all the time.
Finished up some product packaging & channel support stuff around conferences. The customer recon continues. This pleases me. I do like to have a solid foundation on which to build. My impatience is one thing, but I also know that a great way to set yourself up to fail is to plan improperly. Figure out your channel and your channel support before going and signing up a bunch of channel partners. Just the basics, you know?
I was explaining to my friend Sam this week the difference between interesting data and actionable data. This is another common business mistake: people focus so much on the information that’s interesting that we lose track of why we’re collecting the data to begin with. Then we have reams and reams of information, but we get lost & overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do with it all. Data:decisions experience:wisdom and context:meaning. Kind of.
Speaking of lost & overwhelmed, I wasn’t exactly lost but I was a bit overwhelmed by the end of the week. I had decided to take Saturday off because I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a day off from work and I was afraid of the early stages of burnout. Actually doing so was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but probably necessary.
My stress has been too high, and it all culminated on Saturday morning when I woke up and should have been raring to go for the CrossFit Open, and my body just kinda stayed in bed. I did kind of all right in a workout that I should have been all over but it involved excessive numbers of box jumps and my legs just didn’t want to jump. This workout was 10 minutes of brutal: 5 push press @34kg, 10 deadlifts @34kgs (i.e. nothing!), and 15 50cm box jumps. And it’s easy to short the range of motion on most or all of these exercises. I’m pretty sure all my reps were clean, I do hope my judge would have called it otherwise if it were so.
Bottom line though, in a workout that was all about pacing I paced incorrectly. Went out a bit too slow, and never quite caught up when my legs decided not to come to the party. If only it had been an AMRAP13 or 15 I would totally have killed it. But it wasn’t. One thing I will say is that I realised very quickly (about 2 minutes in) that my game plan wasn’t working for me, so I didn’t panic, switched to something else, and at the end of the day other than my legs not having their normal springiness my only regret is that I didn’t figure this out faster. Well as I’ve said before, I almost never have a workout I’m 100% happy with: there is always room for analysis & learning.
Then adding insult to injury, as it were, I had all sorts of plans for what to do with the afternoon: errands! Reading! Instead I collapsed into bed and slept for a few hours before dinner. Possibly I was still feeling the effects of another crazy acupuncture session Thursday. I’ve had acupuncture before, but never anything like these last two sessions. It’s actually mind-blowing.
Well at this rate I’ll have to start taking days off more often. It’s not a competition to see who can work the longest. It’s not a competition at all, in fact.
We’re all just trying to make something out of a commodity space. It’s hard. It’s really hard to differentiate and create sustainable competitive advantage in a commodity space. But in a way, we’re all in this together. Before I joined the industry I never noticed the telecommunications equipment that is everywhere to be seen. Now I do.
And sure I have something to say about mobile carrier ‘offload’ or backhaul on to Wi-Fi. But you know what? As a consumer I also care. Biggest rise I got out of the 4Di meeting the other day was by storytelling: ‘Does anyone here use Vodacom?’ If they live in Cape Town, you don’t even need to explain why you’re asking.
Seriously. LTE is literally taking the legacy 3G networks down by cannibalising bandwidth. Enter Wi-Fi. It works great in exactly the areas where LTE and 3G do not, and performs poorly in the areas where they do. But anyway the whole industry is agog with this stuff. Consumers don’t care, they just want their phone to work.
OK enough Skyrove product marketing. Let’s talk more about my other obsession.
The half-true-half-totally-damn-false saying in CrossFit is that you’re not competing with the other people around you, you’re competing with yourself. CrossFit even admits that both are true. But at the end as pack animals our ranking is important. Look, if I got the top score in Africa for a workout where I felt I left something on the table I’d be ok with that. I’d also be ok with it if I did my best and finished middle of the pack, but only if I actually believed the scores higher than mine (no further comment required). In this workout I didn’t so much leave anything on the table as I just executed poorly. So the main reason I was upset wasn’t how the other girls fared, but just that I didn’t do well compared to what I’m capable of.
Two weeks in and I’m already over the Open. It annoys me how people game it. You can learn a lot about a person from how they respond to something like this which is essentially just a qualifier and rank isn’t really that important except for bragging rights. All I’ll say on THAT score is props, again, to Lorinda van Loggerenberg for posting her score immediately and giving everyone else a target to shoot for.
So now in addition to correcting my form in the Olympic lifts, I am starting to fix my kipping pullup. And my shoulder which had been scaring the living daylights out of me, recovered enough to let me do a muscle up transition in the high rings with no ill effects. Heck yeah. An amazing thing … to be able to kip without my back hurting and turn over without my shoulder feeling like something is very, very wrong. That was funny though: Chris said something along the lines of: ‘You need to relax! You basically just did a strict muscle up.’ If only he knew …. Well I won’t be so tense next time.
We had our first CrossFit competition team meeting this week. And, a Friday dinner to boot. I am excited. There is just something about being part of a sports team that for me is irreplaceable.
Who knew I was such a team player? In a lot of ways I’m a lone wolf. I actually prefer sitting in front of my computer and working magic with spreadsheets and product requirements docs & whatnot. Going out into the scary world to gather data, then coming back and, by myself, turning it into magic, then sharing with other people. Weird for an extrovert, I know.
I suppose I am settling into my CEO role as well as one can. I’m stressed, yeah. I’m overworked and overcommitted, yeah. I may get cranky from time to time, and get frustrated with how many decisions I have to make. The problem with getting to make a decision is that you then have to take responsibility for it. Well, I’ve made my bed and I now have to lie in it, in more ways than one.
It was hot this week, like 34 degrees or something crazy on Thursday. I know I will regret this in a few months because winter here is VERY unpleasant, but I am ready for summer to be over. The weather finally broke Friday morning; what a relief! I have always hated super hot weather. It’s one of the reasons I always disliked my birthday month. In this country, of course, I have the opposite problem.
It was also beautiful. There is this angle of lighting that happens at this time of year as the seasons change. In the summer everything is very over-saturated and the skies are the brightest blue, with no clouds. In the winter there are amazing clouds, and shades of green that rival Vietnam some days, contrasted with the red earth. Now, there are these wispy clouds in the evening that are the colour of that pink cotton candy.
Speaking of cotton candy, I’m feeling a strong sense of place here combined with a strong longing for the States. I saw a letter with that USPS logo on it at my apartment block, but it wasn’t for me. And now I’m thinking of cotton candy, and Field Days, and all the things I will again miss: peony season, Field Days, the three or so days in spring when there are many colours on the trees as at peak autumn foliage. I’m not saying I want to move back. But I am saying that I miss it. I’ve also caught myself day dreaming of Sausalito, and Stinson Beach, and those golden hills.
I think it’s maybe every place you live gets inside you a little bit. Life is amazing. Everything you do contributes to who you are, and everything has an opportunity cost. Especially where you live.
I guess what I realised this week, in all of its harshness? I do have limits, of course, and they are lower than I sometimes like to think. Yes I know, limits are there to be pushed and fought and you can’t let them hold you back … but just because you don’t want to think of them as constraining doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
  • “Radio?? People don’t understand what they can’t see.” – Damon
  • “At least you admit that. That the pain might be too much for you.” “I didn’t say that. I just said I felt lightheaded.” – Bryony & Ellie
  • “And he agreed to that??” – Stefan
  • “And he agreed to that?” – Kerry
  • “I heard Tim laughing. Was he laughing at me?” – Ellie (he was indeed … stickers again)
  • “Being a small company placed between two gorillas is a tricky place to be.” – Jack
  • “Where’s that time machine when you need it?” – Sam
  • “For you it’s a state of mind.” – Lance
  • “It might seem unrelated, but it’s not.” – Debbie
  • “There is often a difference between what people say and what they actually do.” – Laurie
  • “I like your enthusiasm.” – Justin
  • “Where do you want to be a year from now?” – Anton
  • “I confused George and George.” – Ellie
  • “He wasn’t too impressed.” – Adam
  • “All I know about her is that she doesn’t like other smart people, and that she’s obsessed with shoes. And apparently she’s a little bit scary.” – Ellie  
  • “Sounds like he’s been speaking to me.” – Lance
  • “Scoop sends us a box in a box in a box.” – Bronwyn
  • “I was …. Quite impressed.” – Tim
  • “I sound like I’m in sales!” – Rudolph
  • “Yeah but that’s your job. Your job is not to make jam.” – Chris
  • “He registered a domain name for you? He must really be in love.” – Ellie
  • “He says he knows you quite well.” – Pierre 
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