If you haven't heard... I have a pretty big project coming out later this week! This is something I dreamt up of and have been actively working towards since March 2020 (and yes that would be technically pre-pandemic... by a matter of days). Through determination, patience, and, of course, a little bit of luck, I was able to partner with Rubik's Cubes and ZeroG to get myself on a zeroG flight, also known as a vomit comet. And it was awesome! A dream of an experience and everything I had hoped it would be. (And I didn't puke!)
This week is the release of a full fledge video about this experience. (You can find a little teaser trailer here to start building anticipation) But this has resulted in my own anticipation. I have been working n this for TWO AND A HALF YEARS. And the release is finally here. What if people think it is lame... or I am just some crazy space girl playing with a toy? Or maybe people will see me as an attention-seeking influencer instead of my original intention of making space, Rubik's, and STEM approachable to all. What if this is my only chance to go to space? What if what if what if... What if this is my one shot of making it and I blow it or it doesn't work out?
That isn't what this is about. It is so easy to lose yourself in these thoughts, especially in the modern age of social media. Social media makes it seem like suddenly, overnight, someone is "discovered" on America's Got Talent or "goes viral" on TikTok when in reality, most of those stories involve years of work to get to that point. And I am no different in that.
All this brings me back to a perspective-altering book I read about two years ago called The Third Door by Alex Banayan. It is an illuminating and entertaining story of Alex deciding to risk it all and interview the most successful people in modern history on how they "made it". Basically, what he found is if life is a club, there is the front door which is for normal people and hard work, day in and day out. That door has a long line of people hoping to make it in and a bouncer who gets to be the gatekeeper. Then there is the second door which is the VIP entrance. This is for people who have "already made it" or, in other words, have privileges prior to starting life such as family name, wealth, race, etc. Then finally... there is the secret third door. This is for people who can get creative, take a risk, and go out on a limb to get what they want. This door could be a back window left open or maybe where they take the trash out at the end of the night or just knowing someone on the inside who will
help you out. Life is about finding the third door. I highly recommend anyone with a dream or a vision to read this book and absorb every ounce of brilliance Alex has to offer in his amazing, heroic, and sometimes annoyingly-frustrating journey.
One lesson from Alex's book that shook me to my core is from an interview with Qi Lu, a Chinese American tech-industry leader who, at the time of the book, worked as a Microsoft Exec. Qi had this amazing quote:
"Luck is like a bus. If you miss one, there is always the next one. But if you're not prepared, you won't be able to jump on."
Whoa. Mind blown... I know.
I have leaned on this quote ever since I read it on that page, even offering it to some of my fellow dreamers who have used it in their own pursuits when times get hard. There is so much safety and yet so much personal accountability in this simple life metaphor.
First of all, this offers you the safety that you will have another chance! This immediately breaks the paralyzing stigma that "this is it, this is my one shot and if I mess it up, I will always be a failure." It is nice to know that there is another bus coming around in 15 minutes to get you on your way. This one obviously helped me a lot as the nerves and anxiety grew for the release of my Rubik's video. If this doesn't work out, I still reached my original goal to experience Zero Gravity and I was even able to inspire at least three kids (those would be my awesome nephews) to pick up a Rubik's cube. So what do I care? I got an amazing life experience I will cherish and another bus will be here soon.
It also helps with some other common freeze points like being a people pleaser or having FOMO (fear of missing out) which leads to one big problem; always saying yes! You are scared that every opportunity coming your way is the opportunity so you can't say no to any! Then you end up burning yourself out, becoming resentful, or even finding yourself knee-deep in something that doesn't fully align with your values. Sound familiar to anyone? Well, now you can remind yourself that you have another bus coming. You can say no to this one. Who knows, you probably can even catch it on the next cycle if you need to. If luck is a bus, you have the power to choose which bus you want to get on.
Another big lesson is each bus is full of different people. One bus might have the love of your life, another might have your best friend or maybe a long-lost family member. In my case, my Rubik's bus had a lot of new faces but it also had my awe-inspiring mentor Dr. Sian Proctor. Because I chose this bus, I was able to ride with her for a little bit. As a recently return-to-Earth astronaut last year with Inspiration4, she was there to prep me for what zero gravity was going to be like and she was constantly cheering me on. Whoever is on your bus is exactly who is supposed to be in your life right now. Of course, the metaphors go on and on... something about how you may have to take six or seven busses to get to where you want to go; so be ready to make a transfer or wait at a bus stop for a few minutes! Or maybe the classic lesson that you may not know where you will end up, you just need to get on the bus. This was was Qi's original point in using your time now to prepare when the bus (or Rubik's call) may come your way. We can probably explore this idea of getting ready to get on the bus (and knowing when you have found your bus) in a future blog post. For now, I find it so comforting that the cosmically, fate-sealed but still random chance term of "luck" is actually just as familiar as a bus.
Probably the best lesson I gathered from this metaphor is to simply enjoy the bus ride. Instead of worrying about your next transfer or if the bus is going to break down or if the bus driver even knows what they are doing, you can trust there will be another bus soon and you can enjoy the ride. Share stories with the people, look out the window, or daydream a bit, as long as you are present and happy in the moment. This is also relieving a lot of the pressure off me this week. I am definitely enjoying this bus ride!
Here are the overall takeaways from Qi's bus metaphor
- Just get on the freaking bus! Be ready to jump on!
- You have the power to decide which bus you take and when to get off.
- The people on your bus are meant to be in your life at that moment.
- Enjoy the ride!
I guess what I am trying to say is I am still nervous about this week... but I placed a lot more faith in my Luck Bus. Part of me is kind of hoping this could help be my ticket to space. Part of me is worried people won't think I am genuine or won't see the long hours to get to this point. But a much larger part of me is definitely excited to see how all this plays out and which pieces it will line up in my quest to get to space.
Hopefully next time you feel like you have a "make or break" decision coming up, that the whole world may collapse on your shoulders, or that your dreams are hanging by a thread... you can remember the Luck Bus. Just jump on the bus that feels right and enjoy the ride!
Full video is going to be released Thursday, August 18th in parallel with Rubik's Never Give Up Day. Find it on Rubik's YouTube or rubiks.com