Lessons from the Valley and the Sandbox

DSC01840I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I’m kind of a luddite.

Even after living and working in Silicon Valley for years, being married to a computer scientist and giving birth to two digital natives, I’m just not much of a techie.  I don’t enjoy learning how to use a new phone and I find myself frustrated when my Gmail gets updated. Chalk it up to my inner grumpy old lady.  Bah humbug.

But, I’m intoxicated by the wealth of information available at my fingertips. And I’m passionate about the potential of technology to provide access to information to folks all around the globe and ultimately help level the playing field.  That’s what inspired me to work in technology.

And recently, I’ve come to realize how much I’ve learned about living from this cradle of innovation that is Silicon Valley and how much it overlaps with what I’ve learned from my kids.  Perhaps this isn’t surprising seeing as work and kids have been the dominant spheres of my life over these past 5+ years. Still, I’m struck by the parallel of what these two worlds have taught me about life/living:

  1. Take risks and fail fast. Childhood is all about risk taking.  Learning how to crawl, walk, talk, interact with others, share, create.  I watch my 2 year-old and see how she’s experiencing something new every day.  How wonderful and terrifying that must be! Somewhere all the way to adulthood, many of us forget the importance of taking risks and of failing.  Even the joy in failing.  But if you view failure as inherent to innovation, as the culture of Silicon Valley does, it becomes a stepping stone to learning or creating something new.
  2. Launch and iterate. Just start. For a planner like myself, this can be a tough one.  Watching my son build with his legos or my daughter draw a picture, I’m reminded of the importance of diving in and the process of creating and adjusting along the way.  You can’t know where the endpoint will be before you begin.
  3. Question the status quo. There’s nothing like living with a 4 year-old (or working with engineers) to remind one of the importance of questioning everything.  At times, this can be exhausting (I’m thinking of the car ride home the other night), but ultimately, I find it opens you up to view your life with fresh eyes.
  4. Take play seriously. Working in Silicon Valley and raising kids has reminded me of the importance of play. Frankly, it’s sometimes easier said than done to embrace this one since it really requires being completely in the moment.  But I’m trying.  I’m more conscious of letting my daughter wrap up her play before getting ready for bed.  I’m trying to give my full, undivided attention when my son wants to pour over every inch of his Star Wars character encyclopedia with me. I’m playing wholeheartedly with my kids.  And I’m trying to make sure I take time to play myself.

As I navigate a career shift in my own life and transition from raising babies/toddlers to little kids/people, I’m taking all of these lessons to heart.  Thus, the birth of this blog.


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