Blog

All posts are my own opinion and do not represent any organization I am affiliated with.

Overcommitted

I've said "Yes" to working on a lot of projects lately as a helping hand. Over the last month, the volume of these commitments has been too much and I've lost focus on the things that are most important to me. The things where I am a core contributor have suffered for the activities where I am a part-time contributor. This doesn't make sense.

Over the next few days, I am going to work on winding down many of these extra commitments. And over the next few weeks, I am going to lean much more of my weight on the areas where I am a core contributor.

Saying Yes to something new can be easier than saying No. What have you said "Yes" to that doesn't directly contribute to achieving your goals?

Be Happy and Improve the Ability of Others to be Happy

The other day somebody asked me "If you had to, what would you say the purpose of life is?" The answer I chose is "to be happy and improve the ability of others to be happy."

We all share the human condition. Some of us started life in a really great place, while others were dropped in chaos and suffering. None of us got to choose and I can not think of a better notation of meaning than helping our fellow travelers make the most of life.

What a wonderful opportunity we are given, be happy and improve the ability of others to be happy.

Boulder Skyline Traverse

Running for the last 5 years I've had a straightforward goal. Complete a marathon. It started as a dream and slowly with effort turned into a reasonable goal. Then last October, I did it. With my friend Sean Hamborski, I ran the Detroit Marathon. Sean and I have a long-running history together. We ran our first 5k, half and finally full marathon together. I couldn't have asked for a better running partner. And the goal of running a marathon was a great forcing function to get us out running.

I've been thinking this year that I need something new to keep motivating me. But what? In the short term, I have absolutely no intention of becoming an ultra runner. I like my knees too much. Eventually, I'd like to run a marathon on every continent. But I'm in no hurry. That will be a lifelong challenge and I won't do another marathon this year. My next one will be in Antarctica in 2020 and I'm putting together a team. Email me if you are interested in joining: antarctica@davidkircos.com

Here's my new goal for this year: run the Boulder Skyline Traverse. 19 miles, 6k foot vertical gain. Sanitas Mountain, Flagstaff Mountain, Green Mountain, Bear Peak, South Boulder Peak. All 5 of the peaks on the Boulder front range. I haven't established exactly what a success condition for this run will be. There are some very steep parts of the trail. It's not safe to run 100% of it, so maybe I'll set a time goal. I have to attempt the route first to calibrate exactly what that time will be.

I am really stoked about this challenge. Happy running in 2018!

Brain Health: Why I Choose to be Open

A few months ago I wrote a blog post describing my personal struggle with depression. That post was the first time many people who know me realized that I was struggling with depression.

Friends reached out offering support and about 10 people shared with me their own experience with depression.

All of a sudden I wasn’t alone. Without intending to I had built a support community for myself and a network of others who share the same struggle.

This support community has been enormously helpful in avoiding depressive episodes and working through them when they do happen. It has been a life line and helped me to realize that I am among a huge, hidden group of people struggling with an atypical neurology and the data supports it.

Over 20% of people experience a brain condition and that number jumps 2x in the tech industry. So I began to wonder, if I only found this community because of my blog post, where is everyone else finding support?

Through my work at Techstars, I found Sigmend’s Open Labs whose founders graduated from our Boulder Accelerator in 2016. They have since built a nonprofit support system that focuses on people with a bipolar neurology. Open Labs creates a line for people who are bipolar to communicate and support each other. They talk about bipolar as a neurotype that falls within the set of natural human variation instead of a pathology or disorder that should be cured. The goal is to create a safe and empowering environment for those who impacted by bipolar to thrive, and give them the hope they need to live openly.

There is often little consideration for how to live with neurologically different people, the focus is mostly on pushing them back into the “normal” bucket. I don’t believe this is the right way to treat any type of diversity. Diversity fundamentally should be celebrated. Neurodiversity is no different.

People whose minds work differently than the median neurology are very valuable to society the way they are. Finding ways to help individuals with neurological differences embrace their differences as an asset is much more productive than considering all neurological differences a problem.

I’ve also chosen to join Sigmend’s Open Council, a group of people who lend our names and expertise to the Open Labs mission to support the practice of open conversations about brain health in and beyond the workplace.

If you are impacted by bipolar neurology or know someone who is, I encourage you to share Open Labs with them. Being open about depression significantly improved my ability to effectively deal with the condition. Open Labs does the same for those who are on the bipolar spectrum and their allies.

This post originally appeared on blog.sigmend.com

How to Be Optimistic When All the News Is Bad

Every day the news lists terrible events. Mass shootings, government destabilization, tensions rising.

It paints this picture that the world is getting more and more troubling and that we are headed towards a future that is worse than the past.

Here's my theory. The world is not getting worse. We are simply hearing about the problems in the world more loudly and frequently than ever before.

More victims of violence and injustice have a voice today than they ever have had in the past.

These voices are what we are hearing.

50 years ago we didn't hear the voices of sexual assault victims.

50 years ago we didn't hear the voices of people in villages exploited by large industrial companies.

50 years ago we simply didn't hear all the pain going on in the world. Now we do.

Hearing all the pain in the world has fast-tracked our ability to address it.

The evidence of global improvement is palpable in every meaningful measure of the quality of life globally.

Child deaths before the age of 5 are the lowest they have ever been.

More people in the world are living under a democratic government than ever before.

The smallest fraction of people ever currently live below the poverty line.

Our World in Data breaks a lot of these very important measures of global quality of life down quantitatively.

I really love this article on Our World in Data which argues for optimism in a rapidly improving world.

What we are feeling in the world today is not a breakdown. It's very rapid improvement.

Be optimistic! I am.