This is the 65th edition of Cultivating Resilience, a weekly newsletter how we build, adapt, and lead in times of change—brought to you by Jason Shen, a 1st gen immigrant, retired gymnast, and 3x startup founder turned Facebook PM.
🧠 How Massive, Aspirational, and Public Goals Drive Resilience
I’ve been thinking about the value of publicly declaring massive aspirational goals. Three examples:
- Gary Vaynerchuk has talked about wanting to be an owner of the New York Jets for a long time. He explained to Larry King that being a Jet’s fan. was the first American thing he embraced as an immigrant and that he couldn’t afford a $30 jersey as a kid so his mom knit him one. The desire to own the Jets is about power and status, but also about showing the poor little kid he once was that he’s “made it”.
- I was talking with a tech fellow working inside the US government last year and he met a leader from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIChelps stabilize the financial industry and protects consumers from losing all their money in a bank run like from the Great Depression. This guy would talk about how “when Elon Musk puts a bank on Mars, I want it to be FDIC insured”.
- Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, wants humanity to reach the nearest star (beyond the Sun). Based on current technology, it’d take us 60,000 years to get to Alpha Centauri. But she’s set up an organization called 100 Year Starship that’s funded by DARPA to pursue interstellar travel.
- On a personal level, I’ve been working on a new project at work and at one point a director asked “What would it take for Mark Zuckerberg to talk about this project at a company all-hands?”
On the face of it, all of these goals seem more than stretch goals. They’re nearly impossible.
It requires hundreds of millions of dollars to become an owner in a professional sports team (and the owners group needs to approve of your joining the ranks).
Elon Musk is not starting a colony on Mars any time soon, much less a bank. He hasn’t even landed on it with his own spacecraft.
We have made only modest progress in space travel since landing on the Moon nearly 50 years ago.
And there are thousands of projects and 100,000 employees and contractors vying to get a shoutout in Mark Z’s 15 mins slot at the company all hands.
But it almost doesn’t matter.
The point of these goals is to align people in a direction. To help others understand what matters to you. To show yourself as a future-oriented person with vision. And to take you on a journey.
Look at what Gary V says when someone asks him how close he is to buying the Jets. The answer is impressive but also reflective. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t love a lot of his emphasis on hustle culture.
“I would love to have another 15-20 years to make the play. But the truth is, the journey to try to buy them? That’s the game”.
That’s exactly Mae Jemison’s strategy too. She knows that investing in space travel throws off all kinds of valuable innovations along the way to the goal and that’s the real point.
These kinds of goals also help us be more resilient. Because we’re so far away from the goal, any particular setback we might have feels smaller in comparison. If you’re trying to get to another star system, does a rocket exploding on takeoff bother you? Sure, but it’s part of a 100 year journey to get there, so you’ve lost only fractions of a percent of your total time.
These goals are also things that require you to work with others, and that hopefully are aspirational to others. They are also more concrete and memorable than something like “achieve 40% month over month growth in 2022” or something.
So what about you? What kind of massive aspirational public goals might you be pursuing?
🖼 Respectful Communication
Don’t send emails after Happy Hour! You will always regret it
👉 Weight Plate Workouts
I’ve been traveling for a while and lugging around a single 20lbs weight plate. It’s the right size where it can go in a backpack or in my carry on and not completely be unfeasible, but packs enough heft to be challenging in most exercises with enough speed or repetition.
This video is a great list of 30+ exercise you can do with a single weight plate. With the Ruck Plate it has handles so you can sort of also treat it like a dumbell or a very tiny barbell. Versatility for the win!
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Jason Shen | Cultivating Resilience Newsletter
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