This morning I woke up in a hotel in downtown Atlanta. My first view was of the cityscape seen above. It was marvelous. I thought, “What a great day!” And then, I noticed in front of that postcard perfect presentation there was the remnant of a bird’s morning breakfast splashed against the window marring what had been a great moment.
My focus immediately went to the imperfection and I could not unsee it. The picture was ruined. Had the buildings changed? Had the sky changed? Had the trees changed?
No. But my perspective had.
The question we all must ask ourselves is, “Where will we choose to look?”
How Quickly the Picture can Fade
As an entrepreneur, we are constantly faced with challenges. We start with an inspirational, sometimes magnanimous vision, and every day that follows is filled with something or someone attempting to change our view. It’s a never-ending barrage of assaults seeking to damage the picture we see of what could be.
With every small chip at our perfect picture, we have a choice to make. We can focus on the imperfection or we can choose to continue to see the better bridge we’re building behind it. Like the bird dropping, every vision hit we take in our challenges will eventually wash away. As we push forward and see our vision through to reality, the blemishes we encountered have less and less substance.
I regularly face these same challenges. Often, when I share ideas, I’m faced with the sceptic brigade. Everyone I know seems to want to prove they have an upper hand on my ideas. My favorites are the juxtapositions of, “Such and such company is already doing that,” and “There’s a reason no one has ever done it before.” It is not possible for both of those to be true; yet, somehow, one person can find a way to tell me both.
One of the most difficult challenges is not allowing discouragement to set in while legitimately assessing the truth of what you are experiencing. The reality is there is bird crap on the window, regardless of how perfect the picture is behind it. You must be honest with yourself about your ambition without losing sight of the fact that you have a great vision on the other side of it.
Here are several simple steps you can take to keep you grounded in reality while pursuing your dreams:
- Focus Your Perspective: You did not start this journey with the goal of quitting. There is still a great picture on the other side of your challenges. Like the window, I can choose to look at the blemish or I can choose to change my angle and reset my perspective.
- Remember Why You Started: When you began the journey, there was a genesis moment that inspired you. You saw a problem and developed a solution to solve it. The problem has not changed. When we revisit the problem, we are immediately put right back into the place of the emotional ambition that started it all. In that place we will find the energy and excitement necessary to push through.
- Evaluate the Challenge: We’re not perfect and our solution is not perfect either. If we are truly inventing something new, it will not be long before someone else sees our great idea and improves on it. Do not be so tied to your idea that you refuse to consider that it could be better. The only caution here is that you remain focused on the nuts and bolts of what got you here. Is the criticism completely off-base or does it have legitimacy that should be addressed?
- Stay Focused: If there is merit to the criticism, do not be afraid to make slight adjustments being careful to not get off target. You do not need to build the Swiss Army Knife of (insert your idea here). But, if the challenge has merit and brings more focus to your idea, it is worth iterating the concept. The question to consider is, “Does it bring more focus?”. If the challenge requires you to broaden your market or increase the number of problems being solved, it is probably not one you need to make changes to meet. If the challenge refines your idea, it is definitely worth consideration.
- Keep Moving: Do not let the problems other see with your picture of a better tomorrow keep you from moving forward unless you completely agree with them. Remember, before there was Facebook, there was MySpace and Friendster. Before there was an iPod, there was a Rio. There is a difference between, “I need to keep that in mind,” and “You sank my battleship.”
As an entrepreneur, you will wake up every morning and make a choice. You will choose to put one step in front of the other, to march towards your goal and see your vision made real or you will choose to see the blemished picture that others see. What will you choose?