Living in Beta


Why being imperfect is just right!

Beta is a term I learned from being in the software and technology industry over the last eight years. But, in case it’s not a term you’re familiar with, here’s my quick definition.

beta — a state of software (or hardware) where errors and bugs are expected and where polishing or finalizing the program relies on the feedback of a group of people called ‘beta testers’. The reason I like to use beta vs. alpha (the state before beta where the software or hardware is only released to the creators parents or closest friends) is because I’m advocating for you to put yourself out there as you are today. This is meant to create the natural question of waiting for tomorrow to present yourself to the world when you’re a bit more ‘perfect’ vs. showing everyone where you are today, including all of the imperfections.A more technical definition can be found here: http://abt.cm/GzFbp3

I believe that we all need to be more kind to ourselves and accept that we are where we are and who we are today.

While a simple thought, the effects of internalizing this belief have made a profound impact on myself and those that I lead every day.

Think back to the last time you thought, ‘I should be better at this skill / job / or relationship’ or the most common and possibly most destructive of all self-doubts, ‘I should be thinner / prettier / or more wealthy’.

When was that? This morning? At lunch? Or maybe just a minute or two ago? You’re not alone.

Before I left Apple, I asked myself (while preparing for one of the classes I teach), how did I get to a place at 28 years old where I had worked for the world’s most popular brand, had hired and led the most successful team and region in my division worldwide, and was making the most money I had ever made,but wasn’t satisfied or happy?

My observation of my own insatiable appetite for living for tomorrow instead of fully living for today led me to research happiness further. One of the first experts that peaked my interest was Brené Brown who found that most of us operate out of a place of fear or shame daily. My belief is that self-doubt is a modern ‘disease’ that stems from our most basic needs being met for generations in conjunction with our near constant overstimulation. And although I don’t have scientific evidence to support this, I am certain that everyone I know suffers these effects at some point in their life.

And knowing that I wasn’t alone in my confusion, having found myself extrinsically successful, yet feeling intrinsically unsatisfied, I began formulating the concept of ‘Living in Beta’.

At first, ‘Living in Beta’ was purely aspirational. Then it become a philosophy that I to tried to live up to each and every day. After only a few months, ‘Living in Beta’ became an obsession.

I immediatley saw that I could take this simple concept of ‘Living in Beta’ and help others accept and promote themselves daily. My hope was to help them understand that they should be proud that they are unfinished, not completely polished, and invariably have a laundry list of things they wish they were better at. I assure you that I know how hard it is to take a confident attitude towards being imperfect, especially online or in public.

Rooting my claims in science, Shawn Achor’s research on happiness shows that 90% of happiness is derived from within, leaving only 10% coming from without. If that’s even partially true, then striving to accept and enjoying a ‘life in beta’ is pretty close to essential. If you want to dive further, watch Brené Brown’s talk on vulnerability which shows how people who feel a strong sense of worthiness are the only people that truly free themselves from the vicious grasp of fear and shame.

So, while it’s not easy and you’ll likely find few people that have the courage to stay this course with you, I encourage you to try. Just begin the long and difficult task of searching for your true sense of worthiness and accepting that you are, in fact, currently in beta.

I’ve added some great talks below to help you along your path towards ‘Living in Beta’. I encourage you to research each of these incredible authors further if you connect with their message. They all have profound work to consume.

Here’s to you and ‘Living in Beta’.

You can do this!

-Bay, aka, @BetaBay

Further reading:

David Kelley (http://bit.ly/1f728jx), inspiring for overcoming fear, being creative

Brené Brown (http://bit.ly/15MwG4i), perfect for accepting who you are and redefining how you approach your life

Shawn Achor (http://bit.ly/16qjA8t), great for framing your approach to happiness

Sheryl Sandberg (http://leanin.org), focused support for women on how to go after their goals