A startup begins when someone who doesn’t know better embraces a breakdown in the traditional ways of perception — when you understand a customer in a new way or see a solution to a problem people didn’t even know they had. A startup begins with a seemingly ridiculous experiment.
Ridiculous experiments are strangled in a culture that idolizes success and nurtured by one that accepts failure. When you chase success, you try to win at the same game as everyone else. You chase the current big winners by acting like the current big winners. In the effort to look or act like someone else, to be closer to their path, you forget that start up success lies at the end of paths not yet taken. When you chase success you fear failure and forget to do ridiculous things.
When you chase success, you accept that there is “the way” and listen when
leaders say, “ it turns out that the best people all…” Reaching for success leads to programatic pitches and company ideas that are meticulously architected to fix what is obviously broken but lack the soul of contrarian insight. Startups need the dirt of disagreement and the mess of being misunderstood. They feed on the undergrowth of the unexplored not the well swept sidewalks of an established order. The best ideas are not born into resource constrained boxes confined by how much money you think you can raise and the progress you think you can make in 18 months so that you can raise again.
Ridiculous experiments are much easier in communities of people who have all stepped outside the usual structures. The winds that breath life into fresh lungs come from weird corners of the world where people don’t look ahead and copy others — where you are embraced for trying something new, not for excellence in what is easily measured and well understood.
Surround yourself with people who embrace failure instead of idolizing success. Be a part of things where you go farther by embracing who you are rather than trying to be like someone else. Do not try to walk on the path or worry if you are off the path. Have confidence that there is no path there is only you.
*This post came from random notes I made while reading Natalie Goldberg’s book Long Quiet Highway