The Little Shitter
It’s amazing how the many different parts of our lives parallel each other. Anyone who has worked with me in our teams, or has been reading my blog posts, will know that many of my management insights have come from areas like art, physics, psychology, sports, religion, and nature, among other bodies of knowledge. It’s important to not just collect information in our heads but to be able to make connections and combinations with these pieces of information in order to come up with better applications. Having a posture that’s constantly curios, constantly inquiring, that is hopeful for answers, and does not settle for anything less than understanding will help a person in every area of their life.
An example of this truth, that we can pick-up lessons from one area of our life that are useful to the other areas, came to me after a discouraging week of work. I run a social impact tech startup called Bridge, that provides a range of human resource (HR) solutions to companies in the Philippines (including payroll and staffing) that is layered with our Fintech platform (Access) that allows us to refinance the expensive loans of employees and help them save what they used to pay in interest. Our goal is help employees work towards “security” not “stuff”. While our mission is noble (you’ll be shocked at how horrible the usury is in the Philippines), it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to face the growth pains of a startup, especially one that is disrupting both the HR and lending spaces at the same time. With thousands of users on our platforms, over ninety full-time employees, and big goals, every single day is full of action.
One Saturday, while not working (Saturdays are supposed to be my Sabbath), while changing Elijah’s diaper (which I rarely do), my mind was full of different Bridge concerns and opportunities. My son, Elijah, has somehow figured that wiping his poop on his dad’s hands is funny to him, as it brings out my grossed-out anger. How this boy learns to be cheeky is beyond me, but he just knows how to push my buttons. I scolded him, “Elijah, stop it!” Which he doesn’t do, and continues to attempt to grab more poop to wipe on me, all the while giggling with his adorable giggle. Somehow, I managed to finish changing his diaper anyway, wash my hands a billion times, and get him dressed. This is why I let his mother and nanny do the changing. They’re better at it. They’re more efficient. I like efficiency. And I hate getting poop on my hands. I thought to myself, “Already so much trouble, this little shitter.”
The next morning, I watched as my son slept, already so long and so big, and I kept thinking about how lucky I am to have such an amazing son. I remember my instinctive thought the day before, right after getting poop on my hands. In that reactive moment, Elijah, my favourite boy in the world, was a “Little Shitter”. In the morning, seeing him in another light, all I saw was how lucky I was to have such an amazing son. I kept thinking about his future potential, about the dreams I have for him, and about my next steps to prepare for his college, to train him, and to make sure he’s as healthy as possible.
I thought about my other “baby”, Bridge, another young one that has captured my heart and is full of potential. There are some moments where my reaction thinks that there’s so much trouble and inconvenience. But every single time I step back, and look at Bridge, not for the latest concern, but for its qualities, its amazing team, its growing customer base, its beautiful mission, and the potential to bring about sustainable and scalable impact, my mind is refocused on the right things.
The point of this post is simple: When you see the different areas of your life as “little shitters”, you will fail to treat them as they should be: as beautiful potential waiting to be realized. Every day, Elijah continues to shit without warning, and he continues to require help to clean himself up, but he’s more than a little shitter. He’s my little giant who is showing incredible physicality and an indomitable will. He’s excitingly developing associations and is learning how to show his affection, especially to his mother. He can recognise tens of animals and dinosaurs, and can tumble of our bed. And he’s only 20 months. What more at 24 months? What more at 36 months? What more in a decade? What more in 50 years? What more will he accomplish?
I now feel this way for all the areas of my life. What can my health look like if I daily just do the necessary things to stay healthy over time? What could Bridge look like? What could Stealth look like? What could my family look like? Instead of putting so much emphasis on the wrong things that happen, and there’s a lot, I use my attention and energy on realign potential not reaffirming negativity.