In this episode, Steli and Hiten discuss Steli’s posts on Facebook which address the topic of worrying. In this current season of presidential elections, a lot of people have been openly posting their thoughts, concerns, and fears online. Listen as Steli shares what he believes about worrying and discover his message to those wrestling with such concerns.  

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:33 – Steli reads his post on the topic of worrying
  • 00:38 – “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength”
  • 00:45 – Stop worrying and start acting
  • 00:52 – Work hard on something you believe in
  • 00:55 – Stop worrying and wasting your time on bad news—start creating good news for your life
  • 01:25 – Steli posted this because of the previous election
  • 01:45 – All of Steli’s social media feeds were bombarded with messages of worry and fear mongering
  • 02:25 – Being exposed to constant negativity affected Steli and caused him to worry as well
  • 02:55 – The next morning, he had an impulse to say something that counteracted the negativity
  • 03:33 – Most of Steli’s sentiments were shared by others
  • 03:51 – People messaged Steli and thanked him for his post
  • 05:02 – Hiten also expressed his own feelings of worry and how it was refreshing for him to read Steli’s post
  • 05:34 – People worry about things they have no control over
  • 06:13 – Steli shares about “The Bad News Elevator”
  • 07:17 – Steli doesn’t let himself be consumed by bad news
  • 07:44 – When people collectively feel something and express it—it’s hard not to be sucked into that experience
  • 08:20 – Steli’s first reaction was to withdraw
  • 09:47 – Hiten was also sucked in by the negativity but he didn’t think about speaking out against it
  • 10:21 – Hiten’s suggestion was to step back and think
  • 11:02 – When you’re dealing with something bad, it’s easy to get worried than to just take action
  • 11:23 – Ask yourself what you can control or change
  • 11:43 – You have the option to respond in the right way or in the wrong way
  • 11:55 – Close your eyes, take a deep breath, take 5 minutes, and come back
  • 12:37 – Hiten also saw similar negative posts on his social media
  • 13:19 – It’s all part of the great human experiment
  • 14:40 – How does the opposition feel?
  • 15:27 – Putting yourself in the worst state possible and not taking any action is NOT opposing anything
  • 16:13 – Be the change what you want to see in the world
  • 16:22 – Past episodes where worrying is tackled are Episode 97 and Episode 11
  • 17:42 – Sometimes when we’re in a bad place, it’s hard for us to help ourselves
  • 18:28 – Helping others is empowering
  • 19:18 – Share a little bit of light to somebody else
  • 19:31 – Help others if you can’t help yourself

3 Key Points:

  1. Stop worrying about the things you cannot control; instead, ACT!
  2. Take a step back and clear your mind before heading back into the world with its concerns.
  3. Reach out and help others if you can’t help yourself.

Resources Mentioned:

Steli Efti: Hey, everyone. This is Steli Efti.

Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah. And today on The Startup Chat, we’re going to talk about something that Steli posted and it was about “worrying”. And he posted it last week, when a lot of interesting things were happening in the world. And so, I think Steli’s got it open. So he’s going to read it and then we’re going to jump right in.

Steli Efti: Yeah. So, here’s what I posted:

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength. Stop worrying and start acting. What can you do today to make the world a little better? Reach out to somebody to offer help. Tell somebody you love them. Work hard on something you believe in. Stop worrying and wasting your time reading bad news and start creating good news in your life, no matter how small. Don’t “Like” or share this post, live it.

Hiten Shah: So, why’d you share that, Steli? What made you write that? I mean, it was an original post. I don’t think you got it from anywhere and I know how much you like quotes. There were no quotes in there. So, I’m really curious.

Steli Efti: So – there is a quote in there. The first sentence, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.” That’s not from me. The rest of it is.

The reason why I posted this was that, you know – there was a big election that was just concluded and a candidate won that people – a lot of people – really didn’t like or felt really strongly about.

And for – I don’t know – for a few hours, my entire time on all my social media but even kind of WhatsApp, the group messages, all the communication – all the casual communication that I’m involved with around the world all turned to the election, especially to just a lot of, like, worrying; a lot of fear; a lot of, “This is going to be the end of the world”. This is going to mean all these horrible things to people. This is more proof that, you know, this country’s fucked and the world is fucked.

And it was just, you know – it was just an overwhelming amount and, as I was consuming that kind of communication, I myself started feeling fairly shitty about the world and about certain things. I started just, you know, noticing the state change; that I started getting into a really worried state and feeling just worried about, you know, everything at that point. You know, my personal life, my work; just getting in a really shitty mood.

And eventually, I picked up on that and I decided to log off from social media. And that was, I think, the night prior to posting this. And I said, alright. No Twitter, no Facebook; none of this stuff because it’s not helping right now. Reading all this and feeling like shit is not helping in any way. It’s not making anything better.

And then the next morning – I’m doing an exercise right now in the mornings as part of, kind of, my rituals and habits, where I try to reach out to one person and say something kind or something uplifting. And that morning, I had that impulse that I don’t need to probably reach out to one person but I probably should log in to social media and say something that’s counteracting everything else that I’m seeing and hopefully shakes one or two people to log off and do something versus reading more and more news that worries them.

So that is what prompted me to go on social media and post this.

Hiten Shah: Gotcha. Well, I’m – First of all, I’m glad that you actually posted it. I think a lot of the sentiment that you were feeling, many of us were feeling. And you actually did something about it by posting it and hopefully, you know, somebody got value from it.

So, a quick question on that: Did you get any messages about it or any interesting comments after you posted it?

Steli Efti: Yeah. So, I did get a few people that just messaged me and thanked me for posting it. They didn’t – Nobody really shared anything, like, more specific than that. It was just, “Hey. Thank you for the post this morning. It really helped” or “I think it was really meaningful” or something along those lines.

And then, there were just – there were a bunch of people that shared it and a lot of people that – although I said, “Don’t share or ‘like’ this post, just do the thing it says” – people liked it and shared it and commented on it.

But the – Yeah. But there were a few people that went beyond that and sent me a message to say thank you for it.

Hiten Shah: Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah. I mean, for me, like, the reason I wanted to talk about it is because I thought it was a really beautiful thing to say at that time. I knew you were doing the daily ritual. I didn’t know that you actually replaced it with this message instead, which is really cool because it’s not just about calling one person. It, you know, could be about just trying to impact more than one person all at once. So I think that’s kind of a new method you might have found there for your, sort of, gratitude approach.

So, yeah. I mean – So, what was going on through your head? Was it that you were just reading all this stuff and starting to feel that worry in yourself?

I know I felt it that night and into the morning and many other people I know felt it. So it was refreshing to read what you had. And usually, I’m not impacted by things like that but I got sucked in myself and, you know, it was definitely an evening that was one of the oddest evenings I had, just in terms of knowing that, collectively, there’s a lot of disgruntled people, basically, for lack of a better word, and people that are worried because of the outcome of something they, quite frankly, have very little control over, which are things that always bug me – when people have very little control over things and they worry about them.

Steli Efti: Yeah. You know, it really was that. I think that I’m not used to – I’m not used to reading a lot negative news. It’s a weird thing to say but I’m not – I don’t have television at home or at the office.

Hiten Shah: Yeah, me neither. Yeah.

Steli Efti: Right?

Hiten Shah: I get it.

Steli Efti: I don’t – So, I’m very selective on who I’m reading things from and I’m very much selective to the fact that I don’t want to read bad news all day long, because I know how big of a negative impact that can have on my life and how little is a return of, like, real knowledge and real impact I can have consuming all that stuff.

It goes even so far – this is a little side story – but in our office elevator, there’s a little TV thing in there. There’s no sound, thank God, but there was a little TV and for most of the time – for, like, the past two, three years – it was always set on CNN. So we called it the “bad news elevator”. And I always joked with people when I was in the elevator that this is –

Hiten Shah: That’s awesome.

Steli Efti: Right? That these are my worst two minutes in the day, is sitting in there. And sometimes I would have to turn around because it didn’t matter at what day or what time I’d walk into that elevator, it would be bad news. It was something horrible happening in the world; something bad. Somebody’s coming for your children. War is happening. Like, just horrible news all day long.

And, at times – you know, just to joke with people – because I would see people walk into the elevator and, as we were going up the 12th or 13th floor, they would look at the news and their facial expressions would change. And then I would make the joke, “Oh, yeah”, you know, “This is the bad news elevator. My worst two minutes. You know what? Sometimes I actually – ” and then I would turn around and face the wall, versus the television in the elevator, just to crack people up and shake them out of it.

But I don’t consume any of these bad news. And that night, it was impossible not to, it seemed. Like, it was –

Hiten Shah: Right.

Steli Efti: I just got sucked into – and it was, like, even family members from Greece, in Germany, all around the world, people were messaging me about this. Like, even on my, like, WhatsApp or text messaging, just everybody was like, “What the fuck is going on? This is going to be (this and that). How could you?” And I was, like –

So, at some point, it started to affect me. I think when, collectively, that many people feel extremely strongly about something all at the same time and express that worry and that pain, it’s very hard as a human to not, you know, share – be sucked into that experience and share it with them.

So, I started feeling, myself, really horribly and then that night, also – It was interesting because I saw my wife also, like, when I came home, she was like – The first thing she wanted to talk about was all the messages she’s reading and the articles and this and that and how she feels about it. So – I don’t know.

It just – Yeah. It made me feel really shitty and it’s not something I’m used to, to this degree. And my first reaction was to withdraw. Right? Because I was like, “Alright people. This isn’t helping. This sucks. It just makes me feel horrible.” And also, I’m like, “It’s not helping for you to be posting – ”

Like, there were some people where I had the feeling they’re posting an article that looks at a new angle at the problem, like, every five minutes. I’m like, Jesus Christ. Stop reading all these articles and sharing it with – It’s not helping right now. Like, this is not doing anything. This is not – Nobody is going to take action. Nothing is going to be changed by this.

So, my first reaction was, I think, to judge and be, like, alright. This feels horrible. First I got sucked in and I felt the same thing and I went through the exercise of – myself, of really more and more stuff that made me feel really horrible. Then I noticed it and then I judged everybody else and I went, “Well, all you people suck. This isn’t helping. What you do right now is really bad and it’s not really doing anything. So I’m going to withdraw from this.” Like, “I’m going to leave you alone and I’m going to go somewhere, where I’m alone. I’m not affected by all your negativity.”

And the next morning, as I was going through that exercise, I was, like, “Ah, shit. I can’t just withdraw.” That’s not cool either. I need to go back in and do the thing I would want somebody to post; I would want somebody to read.

So those kind of were my little stages of that experience.

Hiten Shah: Yeah. That’s really, really interesting to hear. I mean, for me, it’s like I just – I got sucked in and then it was pretty easy to ignore it pretty – but it was – It wasn’t something I thought of, to actually say something about it, just because there’s so many people on both sides of it and then all kinds of different ways, trying to make sense of it at the same time. Like, nothing changed. We’re – you know. We’re literally – For most of us, nothing really has changed, you know, yet. And if it does change, we’re just worrying about something that we have no – very little, if any, control over.

So, you know – and then, I know that’s led to a lot of people being reactionary and doing all kinds of things. And, you know, at the end of the day, like, I just – My suggestion at that time is just to step back and think about: What can you actually control? What’s the point of worrying about something that you have no control over? It’s like worrying about the outcome of a sports game. I know a lot of people worry about that. And I know there’s barely any repercussions after that, unlike this. But everyone did their part. It was already over by then – by the time everyone started worrying and, you know, sharing all these posts and things like that.

So, again, what you posted – thank you. It was very refreshing and very good to see somebody actually talk about the topic of worrying instead of worrying themselves.

So I think this, to me, applies in a great way to business. I’ve – I know we’ve both been through our ups and downs. We’ve talked about them. But one of the things is like, when you’re dealing with something that’s sort of bad – you’re going to run out the money. In my case, we had a class-action lawsuit. I’m sure we’d run out of money at some point, really, in our time, or had big losses. And it’s just super-easy to get worried instead of take action, just for what you control or what you can do.

And my simple thing is just: Do I control? What do I control here? What can I impact? What can I change? What are the things that I can actually do that are going to have some sort of next step or some sort of action? Otherwise, whatever I’m thinking about, especially when it is done to me or when it’s something in the world that’s happening, that I have to either decide – choose to respond to in the right way or choose to respond to in the wrong way by thinking about it and driving myself crazy and, likely, the people around me.

And so, it’s almost like – step back, close your eyes, take a deep breath, take five minutes, and then come back. And when you’re back, usually you’re not as worried, just because you actually took the time to not think about it and sort of sit with it.

So these days, that’s what I like to do. I like to, you know – If something really bad happens or something’s worrying me and I know that I can’t control it but I want to keep thinking about it, I do my best to just step back, close my eyes, take a deep breath, try to get away from it – even if it’s just for a couple minutes – before I go start thinking about it again. And often, that can lead me to some better insights or a better approach to how to do things.

And I really wish more people would’ve done that during that period, just because – just like you. All the posts I saw, everything I saw – it was, like, lots of opinions. I’ve even had – I’ve even seen some people apologize for having such strong opinions and things like that. So – really interesting and really, really honestly, like, as somebody who loves to observe people, it was a fascinating time.

Steli Efti: Yeah.

Hiten Shah: Definitely, a fascinating time.

Steli Efti: It still is, right?

Hiten Shah: Yeah.

Steli Efti: This time around – and I think for the foreseeable future – it’s going to have interesting – you know, a lot of interesting implications in how people act and how they feel and how – what the impact of this is going to be.

I was joking with a friend, you know – Nowadays, whenever somebody wants to start the conversation and is like, “How could it” and “How did this happen?” I’m always like, “This is part of the great human experiment.” Like, it’s just all part of, you know, us trying to figure out how far we can push it and what will happen if we push it. And we’ll see what will happen.

I think that – I think that – And I’m – Let’s be honest – There’s so many different angles to this. Right? There’s a lot of people that were shocked that he won the election and they feel, you know, very worried and afraid of what this means to their rights and what this means to the safety of the world and dah, dah, dah. And all these things because they think this person is not qualified at all.

There’s some other people that I’m assuming voted for him, right? And some of these people, I probably know. But I’m wondering how do they feel, especially when they’re around an echo chamber that’s more, I think, liberal – which is my echo chamber.

I’m lucky I have a few people close around me that are more conservative. They didn’t vote for him, as far as they told me, but they – I do have some people that are very different in their viewpoints. And they are very close friends and they’ve helped me be more open-minded, I think, over the years.

But I’m wondering if you voted for him, if you actually believe he’s good and you, let’s say, you know – and we say, “Well, everybody who voted for him is an idiot.” Some people aren’t, right? There’s some billionaire investors from Silicon Valley that we know, that supported his candidacy and these people are not stupid. What are their motivations? What do they believe will happen? Why are they pushing this? What is their agenda?

I’m wondering about all these other people, right; the opposing group. And how they feel when everybody is, like, reacting so strongly.

But I’m not saying don’t do anything when you see bad things happen. Right? Some people are like, “Well, what – If you could go back in time and see Hitler being elected, wouldn’t you want to speak up and do something?” I’m like, “I’m not saying you shouldn’t oppose” you know, oppose something that’s bad and even act on it – even drastically, if it’s confirmed that it’s really bad.

I’m just saying, sharing 25 news articles that the world is over and then not doing your job that day and then not being, you know, nice to your children that day and then feeling physically horrible all day in your own body and then sleeping really horribly and waking up to eat bad things and gain weight and do even less. Like, putting yourself in the worse state possible and not taking any action is not opposing, you know, anything.

Like, it’s not speaking against – It’s not stepping in when something horrible in history is about to happen, it’s just being on the sidelines; you know, and feeling horrible about it, which is, I guess, part of the human experience but it’s not really doing anything.

So, my point is not, you know – don’t feel a certain way about this. You can be really strongly opposed but, if you’re opposed, do something about it. But then still make sure that you feel good, you feel loved, you help somebody. You want to do something against it, go out and help somebody. Right? Do something nice to somebody else. You know, post beautiful poetry. You know – whatever.

Be what you want. Be the change you want to see in the world versus worrying and screaming and crying about the bad you see. That’s not going to change anything.

We did an episode, a whole episode – I think there’s two episodes that people that currently feel really horrible and worry a lot about the world might want to listen to; that might help.

One is a specific episode about how to worry in business, which is Episode No. 97. In there, the entire 20 minutes, we just talk about tactics and, Hiten, you just shared one, right? And in that episode, we shared many different ways to deal with worry and deal with stress and deal with these negative thoughts and these fears and, you know, all kinds of different ways we’ve seen other people deal with it and how we do it. So, if people want to listen to find better ways to cope with worry, I highly suggest Episode No. 97.

And then we did another episode on all the hard times in business, specifically, we had to go through. This is Episode No. 11, one of the earliest ones, where we go through some of the most devastating times we had to go through in business. And I think just listening to that and kind of – whenever you can go back to really difficult times and you realize how that person survived or yourself survived and over years, how little it mattered or how, actually, it was something positive at the end, I think the more it kind of relaxes and snaps you out of that state of, like, panic and worry.

I think for – to round up this episode – as a tip that I want to give people is, a lot of times – and maybe this post is a good example. It actually is now. I’m realizing this. Sometimes when we’re in a bad place, it’s hard for us, as humans, to help ourselves get out of that place and get to the better place. It’s hard – it’s, you know – We always know – We oftentimes know what the right answer is to our problem but we have a difficult time applying it when it is us, because we are so consumed with the problem ourselves.

But I find it much easier a lot of times, to go and help somebody who has a similar problem. And when I help somebody with a similar problem, I’m helping myself. I feel instantly better. I will instantly feel a lot more inspired and a lot more motivated to take the same advice I just gave somebody else or I just saw somebody put in practice in a positive way.

So, helping others is just an incredibly empowering thing, in a weird way. Giving to others is something that’s incredibly rewarding. So – I don’t know. If you listen to this episode and you were, like, “Yes. I’m worried about the world. I’m worried about the future. I’m worried about my children and I’m worried about a lot of things right now because of all the craziness that’s going on in the world.” And you are not yet ready to just snap yourself out of all that worry and feel great and take action in your life yourself, find somebody else and help them.

Just ask yourself, who’s somebody right now where I could pick up the phone or write a quick text message or post something even, like I did, and just say something nice, something empowering. Highlight something that’s beautiful in the world, something that’s – that will people – will make people smile, will make people feel hopeful. Just share something. Share a little bit of light with somebody else or the world and you will instantly feel better yourself and you’ll have taken a tiny little action that actually, hopefully, impacts people in a positive way.

So help others if you can’t help yourself, is my tip at the end of this for dealing with worry and stress sometimes.

Hiten Shah: I love it. I don’t actually have a tip to add. I think that we should end on that. You really nailed it by saying help somebody else if you’re feeling helpless.

Steli Efti: Alright. This is it from us.

Hiten Shah: Later.

[End of Audio]

Duration: 22 minutes