Let’s talk about commitment. Over the past few weeks I’ve learnt – not everything, but a lot. In one of the other blogs, I wrote what Startup Weekend was. What I didn’t tell you, is that that was the simple explanation from an observer’s point of view, a very two-dimensional, what-I-saw-on-the-surface post.
At the beginning of December, we held Startup Weekend Lancaster. It was not just a 54 hour marathon. It was more like a three month, “oops-we-left-it-till-last-minute-so-let’s-try-to-get-everything-done-before-it’s-too-late” marathon. Here are some images of the escapade that was Startup Weekend Lancaster:
In school, you learn about teamwork and when you start a new class, the first thing teachers usually do is put you in a group of people you have never met before, or who you have met but never considered working with. With Startup Weekend, we had a choice. We chose to work together and we chose to stick with our team. Group work in school gets you ready for the real world in the sense that you get to witness the dynamics of individuals and then force yourself to comply or assert yourself, in various situations. The hardest part, is figuring out when to do what and how much of yourself to be. In situations like organising our own Startup Weekend, that was the most testing time for each of us, as individuals.
TL;DR: I highlighted how amazing Startup Weekend Manchester was, and Startup Weekend as a concept, in that blog. But what I didn’t uncover were the more candid parts. For instance, I’m pretty sure at one point during the whole process, we all wanted to quit. In this post, I’ll be writing about how the events I did outside of university this term led up to to me learning the most I’ve ever learnt about myself and the people around me, than university itself.
Here we go.
- Understand what you’re doing. This was so crucial. Also left till last minute.
Simply put: Anything you do, you should understand it before you do it. This is one of the first stages of commitment. Research what you’re doing. If you’re passionate and have the time, it will get you where you want to go (even if you don’t know the destination).
During Startup Weekend:
I was lazy, and I was/am still kind of a follower. I thought of myself as a leader before, but as it turns out, there’s a huge difference between having leadership qualities and being able to exert yourself as a leader with quality.
- Working with a team of different people presents various difficulties.
I worked with a group of guys on more than one occasion. Startup Weekend, University work etc. They were definitely not misogynistic, they were the kindest and most relaxed group of guys to work with. However, one example where disagreements can arise is when sexism is there. This includes simple slurs, “It’s that time of the month again” or, more blatantly, “she’s on her period, isn’t she”. How do you overcome this, especially when you’re working with friends/colleagues you see everyday? Let them know. Like any other situation you’re put in, if you’re uncomfortable, let them know. If they’re understanding, they would (most of the time) say “oh, you’re right”.
During Startup Weekend:
This was literally me. I would think that I was direct and when situations arose, I’d think I was being clear and straight forward, but it turns out I wasn’t. Simply put, this all built into a misunderstanding, and it became a huge problem, working with a group of people who didn’t communicate. Everyone was doing their own things, and everyone had a different view on things. In the end we were all in a room and we discussed. One of the biggest lessons here: talk. The hardest and easiest thing to do is talk to your team, so you’re on the same page, and don’t forget you’re all (usually) on the same side.
All in all, with these two lessons in mind during, yes during, the event, it got better and better. Yes, the roller-coaster of emotions wasn’t over, even after the winners were announced, but the whole experience this term made me more self-aware than ever. Those two points, to me, are two of the most invaluable things I’ve learnt. This is what makes Startup Weekend so amazing, if you’re an observer, a participant, a volunteer or an organiser, the way it’s built gives you a playground of things to learn. At University, everyone is usually on the same boat, and all you have to be aware of is that everybody wants the best experiences from that journey. With most problems, sometimes you have to choose how you want to ride it out, and if you do – commit to it.
***(But make sure it’s more number 1 than number 2)***
All images shot with: Canon EOS 60D.