This article first appeared in Alpha Efficiency Magazine: Issue 15: Startup Attitude
I have been wanting to write a piece for Alpha Efficiency Magazine for quite some time now. Over the months the magazine has featured articles on some really interesting themes, but when Bojan pitched the theme for this issue to me, I was blown away. Living your life like a startup – it was something that I had literally never thought about.
I recently got an eye surgery done, and it allowed me to really introspect on this novel (at least to me) concept of living life. I thought about the many ways in which we can live our lives the way people run startups. I thought about all the lessons that the startup culture teaches us: The power of actuating the ability to move from thought to action. It teaches us the importance of keeping things lean, spending only what you really need to, prioritizing expenses and focusing only on the essentials – things you can’t do without. It teaches us to become more convincing – funding doesn’t always necessarily go to the most amazing ideas, it goes to the most convincing ones.
All of these are brilliant lessons, and in the past few weeks that I have delved into this topic, I have incorporated each of them in my life in small ways. But there is a lesson I’ve learned by observing startups that have had a major impact on how I am living life and my ability to bring forth the change in my life that I have been wanting.
STARTUPS AND THE ART OF PRACTICING PATIENCE
Practicing patience to me is the most significant lesson one can learn from the start-up culture. Sure it is important to actuate, to keep things lean, and to be convincing – but even if you do all these things, a start-up could easily fall apart if the entrepreneur fails at instilling a culture of practicing patience.
Running a start-up is not easy, and one has to really hustle it out at the start in order to succeed. What sets apart start-ups that make it and those that don’t is often the ability of entrepreneurs to practice patience. Although we tend to associate the start-up culture with excitement and enthusiasm, persistence and patience play an equally pivotal role in ensuring that the start-up succeeds. As a matter of fact, trying to do too much too soon can often spell doom for startups.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most, considering the fact that starting a business is a long-term process which many would compare to the planting of a tree. Although one needs to be enthusiastic and pro-active about The initial and consequent decisions (choosing the seed, deciding a location, getting the necessary tools, etc), one has to practice patience until the time comes to harvest.
Successful entrepreneurs are, more often than not, extremely pro-active about materializing their ideas – prototyping their product, getting the patents, pitching it to investors, shipping the product, so on and so forth. But when it comes to seeing the reward, they all have one thing in common – they are patient. Their vision is undeterred by temporary glitches or issues, it is unfazed by changes in the execution, and they understand that the change they are trying to precipitate will not happen overnight.
PATIENCE IN YOUR LIFE
The same principle applies to how we live our lives. In order to achieve our long-term goals, whatever they may be, we need to be patient about seeing the change. Whether it is improving our diet, exercising more often, writing more, improving our relationships – the key factor that will determine whether we succeed in achieving our goal or not is our ability to practice patience when we face setbacks and obstacles.
Much like the success of start-ups, most of our long-term goals cannot be achieved by an initial spurt of sheer enthusiasm or motivation. In order to achieve them, we need to put in a sustained and continuous effort. For me, practicing patience has now mostly become a subconscious activity. I don’t necessarily take an effort to approach situations with patience, it just happens naturally. It is ingrained in the way I think, and whenever I feel overwhelmed by the unpredictability of life, I naturally end up practicing patience.
What helped me practice patience at this subconscious level was a small habit I built over the past few weeks. Every time I felt overwhelmed by an obstacle I was facing related to a long-term goal of mine, I would force myself to take a pause, and really introspect on the goal and focus on how much it meant to me. This really helped me, because it was a tangible way I could deal with the issues I was facing. Instead of getting frustrated and jumping to conclusions, I forced myself to take some time-out, which in-turn helped me keep my eye on the prize and to not be fazed by what I was going through. With time, I didn’t need to consciously remind myself to take these pauses, they just happened naturally.
In the past few months, the importance of practicing patience has been at the core of my personal growth. Letting go of this constant urge to control everything around me and to have things work out exactly the way I need them to has enabled me to live a healthier, stress-free, and productive life. It wasn’t an easy lifestyle change and much like any transformation I have undergone in my past, it required me to keep a regular check on how I perceive things and to constantly remind myself to keep my eye on the prize and be undeterred.
The reward, in turn, has been truly tremendous; I’ve been able to make changes in my life that I’ve struggled with for years.