When You Look Into the Abyss, What Do You See?

Alan Shimel, Chief Strategy Officer of StillSecure, a Mobius VC company, has a great personal reflection up on his blog. I met Alan briefly the other week when he stopped by Seth‘s office (and my desk). In only a couple minutes of talking I felt the emotional warmth oozing out.

Why is he reflecting now?

There comes moments in all of our lives where we stop and want to bookmark where we are and reflect on who, what and why we do what we do.

It’s short, personal, and gratitude-filled. A key to happiness is to be aware of and express your gratitude.

He quotes the movie Wall Street:

“Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.” —Hal Holbrook, Wall Street

When I pause and reflect, I, like Alan, see a very lucky man indeed — a full plate of activities and adventures, wonderfully supportive friends and mentors, a loving and non-dysfunctional family, really solid roots (same bedroom, same house, same neighborhood in San Francisco my whole life!), and self-confidence that any time I come to plate I’m capable of hitting a home run. All the while, I’m lucky because I have significant challenges ahead of me — ones that will doubtless bring their fair share of failure and self-doubt, which, when cycled through, ultimately strengthens a person.

When you look into the abyss, what do you see?

6 Responses to When You Look Into the Abyss, What Do You See?

  1. Alan Shimel says:

    Ben- thanks for the trackback. Looking into the abyss at your age, I can tell you that it is filled with opportunity. From what I know and have heard about you, there is little doubt in my mind you will seize them and make the most of them. The future is wide and endless for you now, make the most of it! Good Luck

  2. Vince Williams says:

    Many people find themselves in circumstances where it’s hard to feel grateful for their lot in life.
    Yet I’ve noticed in my travels that people in some places we in the U.S. might consider deprived are happy, and seem to make their way through each day with a smile.

    I try to be like them, and it’s really true that getting in the habit of smiling when you don’t feel so great or so loving to the world, can actually make you feel better, and the smile comes more naturally.

    I would say, though, that I disagree with what Hal Holbrook said in Wallstreet:

    When I look into the Abyss, I see my reflection.

  3. Chris Yeh says:

    A guy who was willing to try.

  4. krishna says:

    A valley of opportunity !

  5. Mary says:

    I see my grandmother’s face — she taught me that one person can make a difference. She changed the course of our family and that changed our lives. If one good person loves you, it keeps you out of the abyss.

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