Dancing, diving and entrepreneurship

This post was written in October 2012 while I was an Entrepreneur in Residence at the GSF Accelerator. It’s also published on the GSF website.

What is an entrepreneur’s alter ego? Yes, we all know entrepreneurship is all-consuming and your start-up becomes your identity. But ever thought about what would keep entrepreneurs you know busy, if not for their start-up?

I did some digging around with our talented bunch of EiR’s. All of us are living and breathing GSF at the moment. But what defines us? What is one big core element that helped shaped who we are and continues to be a big part of our personality? The findings were quite unexpected and two very unusual themes emerged – dancing and diving! Three of our EiR’s are trained in Indian classical dance – Hima Batavia in Kathak, Anjali Gupta and I in Bharatnatyam. Who would have thought? And two EiR’s have a strong passion for deep sea diving – Aishwarya Sirohi (who is PADI certified) and Rishab Malik.

On deeper thought, I realized that there are two strong threads that run common between these two activities – passion and creation of an alternate reality. Any good classical dancer is deeply passionate about the art; in fact, it is a prerequisite for the emotional and physical expression demanded by this form. And I haven’t met a scuba diver yet who wasn’t passionate about diving! I suppose the planning, preparation and practical difficulties of the gear itself ensure that only the passionate pursue this activity. The second interesting commonality is that both these art forms (if I may) create an alternate reality that engulfs us completely. Classical dance intentionally creates a world of its own – while portraying the emotional turbulences of the characters, the dancer is transported into an alternate world and only feels the joy and pain of this world. In diving, with crystal clear waters above you, and all colors imaginable below, it is impossible to imagine any reality apart from that. With some senses blocked and others heightened, diving lets you experience a serenity you never thought possible. My sole diving experience in Fiji is one I often relive during my stressful moments.

So is it a coincidence that dancing and diving run deep through our entrepreneurs? Perhaps. But maybe, just maybe, the reason is that good entrepreneurs must also display those very same qualities – deep passion for their cause and an ability to be completely engulfed by it, thus making it their only reality.