Debunking the mystery of the vision thing
I am in the midst of startup number 3.5.
I say 3.5 since the original number 3 had the trap door open four months before it was about to come to life. It was a classic example of the fish that got away. "If only I had used the Mepps spinner rather than the fly, I would have landed that sucker. Did you see him jumping out of the water? Damn!"
At the early stages, you have to recognize that you are looking at at least a four year commitment. I say at least four because if you fail, it won't make it that far. If you succeed at all, four is the bare minimum you are signing up for. More like six, eight or ten. So you consider this stage carefully. You make sure you are onto something. Something that has a chance.
Anyway. So today I am in the murky midst of startup number 3.5, and one of my partners in crime wants to have a discussion about the vision thing. "What is our vision? Where will we find our vision?" That's not an exact quote but it's close enough. I thought about this for a moment, and then reacted. "We are not creating a vision, we are just dogs in the dog park."
Why dogs in the dog park? What do dogs in the dog park do? You've been to the dog park, right? They walk around and smell each other's butts. These are not just passing sniffs handled with aplomb. These are focused, determined smellings. They also walk around and smell each others fecal matter. They learn and investigate by exploring the dirty stuff. What they actually learn is beyond me, but if we anthropomorphize this activity, we can extrapolate.
They are not so high minded that they sit around thinking about silly things like visions. They are willing to stick their noses in dirty places to find out what happened. They are persistent and they smell everything. They are willing to lick things that make the rest of us cringe. And they love it. They enjoy it. They revel in their investigations, but they do not get high minded. They do not indulge in fatuous self-aggrandizing "visions."
Here's what I'm trying to offer up for consideration. In the early stages of a new venture, it's not about vision. It's about a dogged willingness to understand the stinky stuff. That means we have to go out and find the stinky stuff. We have to smell it. We have to lick it. Yes, he said lick it. And we have to revel in that process.
(Image source: homotron.net)
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