Recently, we had Steve Corona, Principal Architect at Bigcommerce, on Radio Headspace to talk about living without time cues. An avid Headspace user, today he talks about his meditation practice, the power of a good challenge, and his views on confidence and courage.
What brought you to meditation?
I’m a chronic experimenter. It was impossible for me to discount the benefits that others get from daily meditation, and I wanted that for myself. Working in a fast-paced startup environment typically means high levels of stress and burnout unless you actively address it with things like meditation.
Tell us a little bit about your meditation journey.
Although I’ve been meditating for a few years, I was unsuccessful at it for most of the time. I’ve written in my journal nearly daily since 2009, so I can read back and see that my first attempts at experimenting with meditation were back in 2012. I wouldn’t say that I was very good at meditation when I first started. I’d attempt to sit on the floor in silence for 5-10 minutes, but would get bored and restless within 30 seconds, eventually trying smaller and smaller time increments that I could force myself to sit through.
Before finding Headspace, the closest that I got to a successful meditation session was spending an hour inside of an isolation chamber. Without any sensation, I’d eventually “brute force” my mind into meditation mode, and it was excellent. I finally understood meditation and I wanted more. It wasn’t until I discovered the Headspace app in late 2014 that it finally clicked — I was able to get into the same mental state as the isolation chamber, but in my living room. I’ve been hooked since.
What piece of advice would you give someone sitting down to meditate for the first time?
Use guided meditation (i.e, the Headspace app) and shoot for the smallest unit of time possible, like 10 minutes. I don’t think you’re going to be very successful if you try to start with long sessions. You’ll burn out. The other thing that tripped me up early on was the idea that I had to meditate during a specific time, like the morning. In fact, any creative way that you can find 10 minutes to slip away is plenty. I’ve meditated at work, on airplanes, and in living rooms. You won’t always be able to plan your sessions perfectly, so aim for building a daily habit, not perfection.
What’s the biggest lesson that meditation has taught you?
The feelings of worry, stress, and fear are ephemeral — that I can just put on a pair of headphones and slip away for a few minutes.
How do you define success?
Differently from others, that’s for sure. I sort of define my own success by the sheer number of opportunities that I attempt. I try to say “yes” to almost every opportunity — especially the things that scare me the most. Run a 192 mile relay-race? Yes. Move across the country? Yes. Write a book? Sure. I don’t “succeed” in the traditional sense at all of them. I fail and learn more than I execute seamlessly, but to me, this is what success looks like.
How do you define failure?
Failure is really the lack of exploring the world through new experiences and situations. If you’re bored, you’re boring.
Do you think confidence is essential to success, professional or otherwise?
Yes, but confidence through execution and eagerness. The most successful people that I know are extremely eager to create and have executed successfully in the past. You can cheat, to some level, with “fake confidence,” but if it’s not real confidence from within, you’ll eventually run out. The easiest way to be successful is to create value for other people. Stop consuming and become a producer. Even if a single person finds value in whatever it is that you’ve created, that’s success.
You hit rock bottom and turned your life around. Was it confidence, courage or youthful ignorance that gave you the motivation to push on?
The completely honest but totally unsexy answer: incremental progress, improving myself by 1% each day. Motivation used to be my fuel until I realized that you burn through it quickly. Instead, I try to become just a little bit better each and everyday. The other thing that helped is journaling — it’s so easy to forget the valuable lessons that you learn everyday. Going back and reading through the past lessons of your life is like having a cheat code.
You seem to love a good challenge. What lessons have these challenges taught you?
I love anything that pushes me out of my comfort zone. I used to have a huge fear of public speaking and I finally decided that I didn’t want to be like everyone else — I had so many ideas that I wanted to share with the world and it’d be selfish if I let fear hold them back. So I decided I was going to “handle” it. I forced myself to sign up for four or five different speaking gigs — the first few were painful and embarrassing, but they pushed me through the fear.
I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to find what scares you, set the stakes high, and commit immediately. Whatever that thing is, you *have* to do it. Like, if you want to run a marathon, pull the trigger and sign up for one tonight. Otherwise, you’ll never do it and I’m convinced that eventually part of you will die. Keep the adventure in your soul alive by feeding it regularly.
What three things would you take with you to a desert island?
Vibram Five Fingers (for running)
Kindle Voyage (for reading)
Moleskin Notebook (for writing down 10 ideas each day)
(I think I would enjoy living on a desert island.)
What’s on your bucket list?
I’m a closet hoarder of self-sufficiency knowledge. I have a strange desire to build one of those tiny houses, be completely off-the-grid, and live off of the land. Something about it seems so liberating. I also want to visit Antarctica.
The author of this post is an editorial contributor to Headspace. These are their views, experiences and results and theirs alone. This contributor was not paid for their writing.