There’s a great phrase that a friend of mine from Boulder uses often.
She calls it “doing the work.”
It’s one of those things that seems obvious, but isn’t well understood by startups or founders.
Sometimes that’s because of ego and/or too high a degree of self-awareness, and sometimes it’s simply because “doing the work” can be a slow, painful process without much worth celebrating.
Doing the work isn’t about appearances, it’s about the value actually delivered or created.
That’s deeply antithetical to how many people think about entrepreneurship. Contrary to how startups are often protrayed, founding one doesn’t automatically make you a better person, or more interesting.
(If you need proof of that, here it is)
And it’s not just relegated to startups, tech, or entrepreneurs. The decision whether or not to do the actual work, and to focus on it over appearances, is an individual one, and made on a daily basis.
That’s why, with very few exceptions, no major public scandal is the first time someone’s screwed up. It’s also why the vast majority of smart, successful companies and entrepreneurs are successful: because they’ve been there and learned the lessons.
This is all pretty obvious. Everyone knows it. But, the problem is that the mindset needed to be successful isn’t about celebration at all.
It’s about doing the work. Grinding it out every day. Choosing to listen to every customer that you can possibly engage. Choosing to listen to yourself and to the people around you, and choosing to engage with deeper questions about what’s valuable, what’s human, what needs to be done.
If you do that kind of work, you’ll develop the self-awareness as an individual and as a company to navigate the big decisions when they arrive.