2019 has been a wild ride for me. It was a year of many things, filled of some first time experiences, humbling encounters, some character building sessions, some personal growth lessons, and most of all, tons of small improvements.
If I had to wrap up 2019 in one word, it would be: acceptance.
Why that word? First of all, perception and awareness must happen first before alternate actions can be suggested. Second being, once you can become aware of the facts, you must accept them. I have to admit, I struggle with acceptance. I am willing to embrace that the obstacle is the way forward.
Don’t get me wrong though, 2019 was a good year, I am very fortunate to be where I am today.
Let’s do the traditional retrospection of 2019 and then dive into the details a bit more.
Key learnings in 2019
- Self development is like bathing – you have to do it everyday
- Take more time for yourself to rest and see the forest from the trees
- There is no easy to road to anything, you must do the work
- How you see yourself truly is how others will see you
2019 – What went well
My company was acquired by Amazon
This news alone was huge for me. I had joined Canvas Technology in December of 2015. I had just parted ways working for Ionic. At the time, I really wanted to dive into another domain in the field of Computer Science. Lucky for me, there was an opening for Canvas Technology and I had joined when there was only a wooden cart prototype. Man, I got in early, and I was excited to be a part of the vision to come.
Fast forward 4 years later and we’re being acquired by one of the largest industrial robotic companies in the world. What an honor, one of which I was hopeful that our company could help push autonomous robotics forward with.
This acquisition was huge for me, it empowered me to pay off my dads loans, take my parents to London, pay off my cars, and has enabled a life for me which I had only dreamed of.
I’ve got to meet tons of intellectuals, highly skilled engineers, and all around amazing people at Amazon. The whole experience has been really humbling that a successful company like Amazon Robotics wanted to buy something I helped build.
As awesome as it’s been, I’ve had to accept that this is my new role. I’ve had to accept that I’m now a part of something bigger – something that is not just a little start up. I’ve had to accept to give up my legos. My strong sense of ownership now had to be passed off to new groups taking over my old domains. I’ve had to accept that I’m no longer in charge of my engineering teams. I’m accepting that I’m now stepping back into a single engineer position over managing multiple teams. It’s been hard, but it’s been fulfilling and necessary to force this growth cycle on me. I’m embracing it with my whole being.
I had an amazing trip to London with my parents
In July, my parents and I departed to the UK to visit one of my fathers friends from his youth, his old old soccer buddy, Khosrow. They had not seen each other in 20 or so years. The whole experience was so heart filling, relaxing, and very adventuresome.
I got to watch my father share stories of his home town in Iran. I got to hear his friend and my father discuss old Iranian culture, fun bits of experiences in their time, as well as meeting Khosrow’s very kind and wholesome family.
From this trip – Khosrow opened up to me like one who has embraced all avenues of life – the joys of building his own home in England, his sorrows of losing his dog, his horror of losing his best friend in England, and his scares of cancer. I could see the house he had built was put on pause – his reasoning was that the last year had taken a toll on him and he hadn’t had the will or energy to move on.
What this taught me – I must accept this same fate. We all must. The love of fate. Amor Fati. The acceptance to know that we all must die. Momento mori.
I saw myself in Khosrow – in that one day I will be in his position. I must accept that the time in the now is the only time I truly have. I must take it for all it is worth.
I began leading an amazing team at Amazon
While a year ago, I read the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. At the time, our team was really struggling to get feature development done while we struggled to support the deployments we currently had. I decided that I could make a bigger impact with my engineering skills, and that getting a manager for the team I had built would help our velocity pick back up.
Post acquisition, the manager on the team wished to get back to product management, where he came from before. I decided from there on – I would do the best job I could at managing and leading the team. I put my management hat back on and forged forward.
What I struggled with the most here was that – while I can manage and lead a team, that is not my passion. While I believe that skills will trump passion, I had to accept that I’m a passion driven person. This is why I’ve always gone the route of start ups – because these kind of companies are truly guided by a passion to disrupt the world.
I incurred an injury
I love training jiu-jitsu. I enjoy the ultimate challenge it brings – in that there is always someone who is training more than you, who is more skilled than you, and the humbling that it forces upon you.
While training in May, I had a fellow training partner get me in an arm bar from the mount position – except this arm bar was different, he took my arm and pushed it towards my head. Immediately a loud snapping sound occurred. Following that, immense pain that seered from my arm to my fingers. I knew something was very wrong.
I did as one did – immediately went to a doctor to get it checked out. The ultra sound showed that my ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) had been torn. The Dr suggested that we could do platelette rich plasma (PRP) injections to speed up the healing. I wasn’t willing to accept that taking time off from training was the best thing for me, I wanted to speed it up. I paid the money and got the PRP injections.
Fast forward to the end of the year – I’m still dealing with some pain in my elbow, I get some odd popping sounds when I do a bicep curl, something is not right.
Again, that acceptance word – I had to accept that I had an injury I needed to nurse. I had to accept that I was not resting appropriately. I had to accept that taking time off, doing physical therapy, and getting back on the track was the best way to continue training until my old age. I also want to accept the mindset that I have an injury, I am not injured. That mindset is important.
Acceptance of fate
Amor Fati. I must appreciate that these experiences above are shaping me for a better version of myself.
I must accept, and embrace, that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength – knowing that you can evolve to the next level by learning from others. Isn’t that why we are all here?
The car you are driving, the coffee you are drinking, the heat that you feel in the bed you sleep in – those are all things that others have given their time to provide to you.
Accept the help. Embrace it. It will empower you if you let it.
Now, I’m looking forward to 2020 and the goals I am setting up to become an even better version of myself.