I just finished the enterprise-wide hackathon that I was leading at work. Hackathon is an event where participants get together with their teams over 24-48 hours and go from an idea to a finished product. Even though the event takes place over hours, the planning for it takes months or years.

Yesterday was the finale, where the final teams get selected by the judges. We had three panels. And in the planning room, it is chaos – as we are trying to confirm the final presentations are in, all the participants have the invites, and judges have access to the app – and miraculously, five minutes before the judging starts, it all comes together.

Image: Gru from minions realizing that plans are a chaos

And during the event, the various teams present their ideas, and the judges are doing their judging. And the planning team ensures that they are on time, next team is on the docket while coordinating other events in other chats.

And then, in the final round – the audience sees the teams talking about their ideas, the judges asking questions. And when we ended in a tie – the audience heard music while the planning team executed a never happened scenario – got the judges in a room – edited the presentation in real-time. And then we all get on camera again, announce the winners, and we are done.

After the event, I got messages from the audience that were like – the event was so smooth and seamless. The various teams sent their thank-you notes. Their experience was so good that they wanted to participate next year. And in the planning room post the event – I stood in one place and ran on the spot because I had so much nervous energy. I am sure I speak for my fellow planning team. Some of them had this dazed look on their faces where they had no idea what just happened and what to do next.

While writing thank you notes, I realized there were genuinely two worlds on either side of the laptop screen. The world the audience and the team experience is akin to watching a movie. And the other world, where the planning team has a lot of last-minute items, responds in real-time despite planning for months. And both worlds exist at the same time.

Peace is not the absence of chaos. Peace is the refuge in the midst of it.

The final round was nerve-racking as I was running out of closing remarks while the judging app calculated the final score. After the event, I got compliments about how calm and collected I was. And I remember thinking that all I was doing was being in the moment and putting one foot in front of the other. And at that time, there was no space for worrying, stress or other thoughts. I was in the moment, and maybe that inner state was what got reflected in the outer screen – despite the chaotic thoughts.

Maybe even in real life, we experience two worlds – the one that happens inside and the other outside our heads. And perhaps the outer world is a reflection of the inner world, and the thoughts in our heads have nothing to do with both worlds. Well, this blog took a turn from the hackathon experience into how we live our life, and that’s the reality as it is now.

Are you aware of the different worlds you occupy and your thoughts?

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