April 11, 2018
When it comes to any sort of creative endeavor, there are three really important factors that matter: there is what your idea/project/startup needs, there’s what you’re capable of, and there’s what you’re willing to do. Of these, only the last one is under your control. To make your idea come to fruition, your job is to get all three of those things to be equal.
When things stall, most people think the gap is between the first two items: between what’s needed and what you’re capable of: Couldn’t raise the round. Nobody wanted to sign you. Music business is dead. Your cofounder left and took half the team with him. Perfectly reasonable, and yet….
Almost without exception the actual gap is between what you’re willing to do and what you’re capable of — and we’re not talking about unethical/illegal things.
The thing you’re making, the company you’re building, the product you’re bringing into the world — it doesn’t matter if your reasons are acceptable, it dies if you can’t keep it alive, whether it’s because you can’t or you won’t.
Your reasons for throwing up your hands are completely valid; nobody gives up on something without giving it their “best” shot. You knew the path to the summit was going to be difficult, but you were prepared for that. Now you turn the bend — and you realize that an avalanche has completely eradicated the path you had planned to take, and a thick fog now completely envelops the mountain. What now?
Option 1: Turn back. Completely acceptable.
Option 2: Take a deep breath, and continue trying to pick out a path up the mountain, as best as you can tell, through the fog. It’s uncomfortable, it’s scary, and nobody is going to be able to reassure you that it’s going to work out.
But here’s where you have something that other people don’t. If you believe this thing needs to exist, and that you are tasked with bringing it into the world, then your obligation is to work to rise to the challenge of shepherding it into this world.
In other words, you’re going to need to figure out how to transform yourself into the person the task requires. Sorry, you can’t outsource it. Frodo alone must destroy the ring in the fires of Mt Doom; Samwise Gamgee cannot do it for him.
In mythology, the hero is always confronted with a challenge she must overcome; what makes the hero’s journey compelling is that failure is not only possible but likely. But in today’s world, the consequences of the failing the challenges we’re talking about aren’t fatal, not by a long shot.