On Compounding Personal Growth

…or how I plan to become Black Widow

I’ve spent my career growing early stage startups, but only recently did I understand how to apply what I do for work to my personal life. A lot of entrepreneurs and startup folks perform experiments on their bodies and minds (drinking only Soylent, a lot of paleo, hacking our productivity) and for a long time I was in on this game. As growth hackers, we naturally look for ways to hack our bodies, minds and lives to incrementally improve ourselves. However, it never seemed to work long term for me. (Paleo is really fucking hard, and I love bread).

When I assessed everything I know to be true about growing companies, I noticed a hole in the growth method a lot of us use on our lives. Well done growth experiments lead you to find sustainable, reliable growth channels that compound over time— quick hacks never work long term.

Compounding my personal growth

I had always admired people who “created habits”, but that seemed impossible to me. It clicked when I started to think about making changes to my life as creating a series of high performing growth levers that would compound over time. ← is the most startup-ey sentence ever

The example

In November I started taking Krav Maga (Israeli street fighting), and I was slow, out of shape and jealous of the badass (jacked) women and men with black belts (still am). When I was getting into an imposter syndrome drenched shame spiral, I realized something very simple:

Their skill level has nothing to do with mine.

Their awesome bods and fighting ability is a direct result of dragging their tired, overworked asses to this studio every week for years. My skill level is a direct result of too much sushi, working from my couch in the evenings, and absolutely no Krav training of any kind. They’ve been compounding their personal growth over time, and I was just starting mine. Their progress should be aspirational, not demotivating.

All I have to do is keep going. Every single week, and slowly but surely I’ll start to look like them. Slowly but surely, I’ll be able to kick your ass. I will become Black Widow… OK maybe not that, but my martial arts abilites will compound over time, all I have to do is continue to show up.

If you listen to policy podcasts every week for years, you’ll better understand the world around you. If you show up twice a week at your fitness class for a year, you’ll look better naked. If you drink a green smoothie every single day… I don’t know what would happen… but probably good stuff. (?)

No more hacks, or juice cleanses, make 2016 the year of compounding personal growth.