the downside of impulsiveness

no mission. i have no mission. there are some things that feel right and some pursuits that feel wrong but i have no mission. a series of impulsive decisions is how i have described my ‘path’ through education, jobs, and technology to those who’ve asked.

there were clearly a number of shaping influences early in my life including technology, literature, and an environment that encouraged curiosity above careers. there were, however, no maps of ambitions longer than the next few years. my world as a school kid was competitive swimming, my click III camera, books across the house, glimpses of life in Boston & Rochester from my father’s photos/slides, stacks of life and aviation week & space technology magazines, and that fantastic blue of early xerox of typed grad school papers and assignments. my thoughts on who i wanted to be went from a journalist to engineer (Civil/Architecture) to communications (EE) in a few years across high school and the first few years of engineering school.

and it got easier every year – from the tyranny of linear algebra in first year (42/100 – not my proudest moment) to tensors, electromagnetic theory, and lasers where assignments and exams became trivially easy.

still, no ambition – neither money nor fame, or any notions of a career. but i was curious – about everything i did not get to know or do.

amount/nature of scholarships was a path to Canada for grad studies, then a sideways arrival in the valley at a time before i knew what a bubble was or startups or venture capital. i passed up two offers of conventional employment with Nortel, a company that was among the top 3 in telecom equipment makers and now doesn’t exist anymore. but i got to do what i wanted to do here and was curious for more.

now, after startups, failures, and a good amount of learning, still no mission. this is the downside of impulsive decision making. fortune, timing, and great talent of others around me across all the impulsive decisions i made has propelled me thus far, not a (or my) mission.

though not at any cross roads or impending forks in the road, it feels like a more formed set of wandering paths if not a straight road around my curiosity may be better. i honestly don’t know if it would be but it does feel like it could be and like most of my decisions, i feel like impulsively acting on it.

In other words, I may be getting old.