This is a guide to train yourself on how to be kind to yourself in order to survive and thrive in your business. I provided some very actionable steps that you can take today to run your life and business without feeling overwhelmed.
For the past 21 years of my existence on this planet, I have been striving to be the most decent person on earth. Being nice really helped me in my early career. It helped me to get world-class mentors, from successful YPO CEOs to heirs of major consortiums. It helped me to get into one of the most prestigious startup accelerators, Capital Factory. It got me my first exit at the age of 21. It got me those 12 teammates that worked on Gumdrop, which was the first exit.
Being the new kid on the block, I mastered the balance between being polite and shamelessly asking for help. Be nice, always be nice. It’s a literal shortcut that rude people never understood.
I think there are way too many places you can learn how to be nice, I am not going to cover too much about this. In short: “Do to the others as you want to be treated”. But also understand, that others might treat themselves differently. While it’s a great rule to start with, I would suggest going the extra mile when practicing this rule.
It’s not hard to see the advantages of being always nice to people, people often don’t see the troublesome consequences that come along with it. To be nice, I was saying yes to helping. To be nice, I gave people my time, To be nice, I worked without a break.
I think it will be helpful to define what is being nice in this context. There are two layers of being nice. The first layer is on the surface, such as being polite. The second layer is intrinsic, it’s to care for others’ interests in every situation. When I walk into a networking event, I first make sure that my manner is appropriate, then I start to ponder how I can help the person in front of me to reach his or her next milestone.
After my first exit, I am no longer the new kid on the block. I have learned some skills in building startups, I have accumulated fantastic people in my network, and I have gained some respect and trust from investors and clients. Lack of opportunity is no longer a problem in my life. And very much the opposite, I am having too many opportunities that I can barely keep up with them.
More and more people start contacting me for opportunities, as well as favors. I used to do them all, so I said yes to everything. A new NFT consulting gig? OK, though my focus was supposed to be building out the Saas NFT API. Peers want some advice? OK, though I am working 14 hours a day 7 days a week. People wanted to start new projects with you that will only take a small amount of your time. OK, though the project that I was working on was already taking every inch of my calendar. Calls after calls, to check out “potential opportunities”, to meet new startup people, and to upgrade to the next level of the startup game.
I soon felt like I was running out of breath. Sleeping 4 hours a day, soon I started to have serious health problems as a 21-year-old. I had a painful pump on my butt that was the result of sitting for too long, my eyes were over squeezed from staring at the screen for 14 hours a day without breaks, and panic attacks and anxiety were killing me as they trigger my old PTSD from Alabama. For a while, I had to get a new prescription every single month. I checked my eyes in 4 different places and finally got the problem identified by an ophthalmologist in Houston(Try an ophthalmologist early if an optometrist can’t fix your problem). I think you get the idea. I was physically, and mentally exhausted. My body was giving me the check engine light and I keep running at 120 miles per hour. I was an idiot. My relationship with my family and others around me was bad as I never got time to talk to them.
I felt like I was not doing it right. I was working hard, but I am pretty sure I was not working smart.
A sequence of questions hit my mind. Is this it? I am going to work hard as fuck and die? What happens after I die? Can I bring anything I build on this planet after I die?
The consequences led me to a heavy but necessary realization: I am going to fucking die. Literally. And when I die, I will not even be able to bring my tiny ring to heaven, not to mention the empire that I will build in this life or the treasure that I will lay on this earth!
I cannot tell you what the meaning of life is. I partially know what mine is, I found it in the Bible. But I don’t think you must be a Christian to find meaning in life. As matter of fact, I had to read a lot of other books that had nothing to do with Christianity to understand it. I will recommend some books here:
I was on the journey to figure out what the hack is going on, and what the hack should do next.
I identified some big rocks in my life and I think yours might look very similar to mine:
These are the big rocks, I realized that I must have these to live a “good life as Kangle”. So I started to fix them one by one. I started to work in 30 mins sprints. I blocked out a time weekly to call my parents. I started to wake up at 5 am and meditate every morning. I started to take my Bible studies more seriously.
I remember when I was at my lowest. I flew to Austin for South By South West. I was having dinner with my mentor, Steve Grubbs, who was a great coach in business, life, and my walk with God. I told him “things are not working out well”. I was being honest, but it was vague. In the next 5 minutes, he gave me the simplest and the most effective solution ever.
One of the problems I had was feeling guilty about never calling my parents. Steve told me on the spot to pick up my phone and send a selfie of me and him to my parents. I did it, and I started to do that every other day. And a couple of weeks later, I stop feeling guilty to my parents.
I think this is a simple and effective crisis management technique that everyone should write down. Because people often don’t remember the steps when they feel like they are trapped.
Guess what? It turned out these big rocks really don’t take that much time!
What? It only takes me 1.5 hours a day to fit in all the big rocks that will give my life meaning. That’s a bargain! I challenge you to try the same, as it normally turns out these small efforts give asymmetric returns in life.
Now The Small Rocks:
Ok, that’s about it. My startup and school consume most of my day. Honestly, they are super fun. I don’t really mind.
Now the sands:
Ask yourself how much time you spend on the sands in your life… I bet a lot. At least when I didn’t know the big rocks in my life. I was spending a lot of time doing the sands, and I was frustrated because my life was not going anywhere. You won’t go anywhere by doing the sands, you move forward by doing the big rocks.
Finally, be an asshole. I don’t mean to be rude to people or not care for others’ interests. What I am really trying to say is that you must be kind to yourself before you be to others.
I felt guilty saying no sometimes. I felt guilty about not doing certain things that people expect me to do. I know that I am decent because many of my friends are even worse than me. Especially the ones with siblings. I was a single child.
When you are kind to yourself, trust me, you will encounter people who think you are an asshole and attack you. Don’t panic, because these people are so used to taking advantage of you that they can’t stand it when you say no even when you are really just being kind to yourself. But the good news is, a true friend will always understand. A good friend will support you because they are there to elevate you. Whoever gets mad at you for saying no, they can FUCK OFF.
It’s essential to be kind to yourself and say no. If you want to live a purposeful life, you can’t always be doing things that are not of your agenda. And when you are not kind to yourself, how can you be kind to others? You cannot truly give kindness when you don’t have kindness. Don’t talk yourself out of it. You deserve every bit of kindness.
Recently, my startup pivoted the focus into making instantly verifiable NFT diplomas for Universities. We had to sunset our version one product soon. One of my former acquaintances in startup really wanted to phone me for the tool. I was reluctant to provide the tool as it won’t be financially viable for the company. He was eager to use the product, he was a hustler. I respect hustlers so I decided I will provide the tool if they can generate a good profit. I really should have said no. On the call, I quoted a price of $10 per mint to start the negotiation. I explained that we changed our plan, and it will cost a lot more than before as version one product is not going to be sold to the masses. The acquaintance was furious and started to curse at me. He then started to teach me how to price my product. He really wanted me to sell it at a loss, so I said I cannot do it. He was pissed off and insulted me over the phone with very nasty words. He called me a dick. He called me a dick because he cannot stand me saying no to providing a service at a loss. The moral of the story is that the wrong people will give you a hard time for being kind, but you should not change the fact that you must do the right thing.
Knowledge left unapplied is generally useless. Here are some practical methods to retrain your brain:
Be kind to yourself. And if someone called you an asshole for being kind to yourself, fuck those pigs.