Go Big or Go Home | by Stevie Vines

Go Big or Go Home

Posted on May 17, 2015

Earth, from the farthest man has ever traveled. Apollo 13, April 1970.

Diving boards are stubborn. Or maybe it's gravity. Either way, the board only moves when you force it to move. You have to put your weight into it if you want it to bend. All the leg strength in the world will do you no good if you apply it at the wrong time; you have to press in the right direction, at the right time, with the right alignment to perform a successful, safe dive.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to coach some of my divers in Chapel Hill, NC at a regional diving meet. This was Abbey's first meet, and she was in the most challenging age group. She was understandably nervous, and tried to play it safe on her first few dives. Unfortunately, for Abbey playing it safe usually entails a tentative push that barely moves the diving board.

A video posted by Atlanta Diving (@atlantadiving) on

On her second dive, a back dive, she hardly pushed at all, and as a result, she did not move far enough away, slashing her legs on the board. The lifeguards bandaged her up and she continued competing, but the rest of her event was plagued by a lack of aggressiveness and power.

Friday was a tumultuous day at Kevy.

We lost an engineer, three sales bros, and our CEO stepped down in a radical restructuring of the company. As something of a Kevy Veteran (I'm now the second-oldest employee, and first hired), I've come to learn that volatile changes are a normal part of the living, breathing startup organism. The team has suffered frustrating defeats, painful blows, and felt the sting of turnover and layoffs more than once. After Friday, we are all in a position much like Abbey's after her 3 Meter competition; we're rattled, confidence shaken, struggling in a sea of uncertainty.

The day after Abbey's disappointing 3 Meter event, she had to compete again on 1 Meter. With aching, bandaged legs she walked over to me before her event warmup. "Abbey," I said, "I know yesterday didn't go how we hoped. But yesterday is over, so let it be over. Today is a new day, and I want you to make a deal with me." She looked at me with a sort of confused interest, so I continued. "Before each dive, I want you to come over to me and say 'Go Big or Go Home.' All you were missing yesterday was the aggressive confidence you show in practice. Deal?" She smiled and said "deal."

Yesterday is over, so let it be over.

Before her first dive, she came over to receive some last minute tips. I told her a couple things to focus on, and she started walking away. "Abbey!" I said, holding my hand to my ear as she turned back. "Go Big or Go Home!" she said, and I smiled and let her go. She visited me before each dive and maintained the ritual, and had a completely different day. As a former diver myself, I know how hard it can be to rebound from a disappointing event, so I was very proud that she didn't let yesterday's defeat bleed into today's challenge.

Right now, Kevy is just like Abbey after Day 1. We're battered and bruised, and we're not sure what tomorrow looks like. Also like Abbey, we have all the abilities we need to be successful. We have a lean, passionate team, infused with a sense of urgency and purpose that we've never had. We're blessed with the same opportunity: a fresh start, a chance to redefine ourselves. And we're faced with the same decision, to Go Big, or Go Home.

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