I recently went up north to recharge the batteries after a very long year of change, education, and growth. That time up north gave me a chance to look back at how much I’ve grown over the past few years, and also how much more growth awaits – both career-wise and personally. I’m very excited about something new I just embarked on as a co-founder at Stone Soup Innovation Labs. New experiences always start off making me feel like an apprentice. An apprentice is naïve and full of misconceptions about this new world. Your head is full of dreams and fantasies about the future. Your knowledge of the world is subjective, based on emotions, insecurities, and limited experience. Slowly, you will ground yourself in reality, in the objective world represented by the knowledge and skills that make people successful in it. You will learn how to work with others and handle criticism. In the process you will transform yourself from someone who is impatient and scattered into someone who is disciplined and focused, with a mind that can handle complexity. In the end, you will master yourself and all of your weaknesses.
This has a simple consequence: you must choose places of work and positions that offer the greatest possibilities for learning, side-by-side great mentors and like-minded people. That’s what Inktomi was, and that’s what Artez was when we first started. Practical knowledge is the ultimate commodity, and is what will pay you dividends for decades to come — far more than the paltry increase in pay you might receive at some seemingly lucrative position that offers fewer learning opportunities. This means that you move toward challenges that will toughen and improve you, where you will get the most objective feedback on your performance and progress. You do not choose careers that seem easy and comfortable. You choose ones that will excite you each day. Where work does not feel like work. I am VERY excited and looking forward to a great new opportunity that awaits for us at Stone Soup!
Personally as well, I look forward to continuing to learn about myself and those around me. Business wise and personally, I’ve been ‘screwed over’ for trusting others too easily in the not so distant past. I’m no longer that naïve person, trusting everyone who comes my way. My gut has become my favourite ally. At the same time I’ve learned the most about myself when I make mistakes too. It’s often tougher to look inside than it is at others. Now, if I make mistakes, I own up to them quickly and I provide genuine apologies and hope to not only learn from them, but pledge not to repeat them. In the past it was hard to do, but now I accept my flaws just as easily as I do of others.
I challenge myself and those around me to admit your mistakes. Don’t hide and don’t lie. Deal with the truth, learn the lessons, endure the consequences of reality, and once you’ve genuinely apologized, MOVE ON. Don’t rehash it. There is nothing more that you can control. Your truth won’t penalize you. The mistakes won’t hurt you. The denial and cover-up will. Flawed and vulnerable people are authentic and likeable. Liars and phonies are not. Every human being is made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions and finished with unique (and sometimes hurtful) edges. I’m trying to stop holding grudges. Don’t get me wrong, if someone doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, I won’t let them walk all over me. But I don’t want to live life with hate either. I’ve done it in the past. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. For those who take advantage of me, I now aim to forgive, but only if I believe the apology is sincere. An insincere apology is worse than no apology at all.
I know everyone is flawed to some extreme. I know I am. You are too. No one is perfect. But we’re all here living for our dreams and each other, trying the very best we can. That’s what I realized most about myself and those around me these past few years. That’s the lesson I’ll take into my new career and personal relationships also.
Harp Athwal currently lives in Toronto, Canada. With 15 years of technology experience helping run two successful tech startups, Harp looks forward to keeping the door open to any opportunities that come his way. Harp has a goal to enjoy a life that allows him to pursue his passion for helping people and businesses in his community succeed. Recently cofounding Stone Soup Innovation Labs, a collaborative coworking and learning centre for startups, allows for this to happen.