Pain, Truth and Entrepreneurship

In the long run, most pain in life is caused by distance from the truth.

Think about it. We get hurt, we suffer, we get over it. Over time, the things that cause the biggest problems in our lives most often derive from our inability to see the whole truth – about ourselves, another person, or even a particular situation.

Pick a source of pain, maybe one in your own life. Lost love, bad relationship, maybe just not living the life you thought you’d live? In most cases I’ve come across, in my own life and others, the real source of life-scale problems is an inability to see, understand, or face the whole truth about some aspect of that problem. What about medical issues? Pick one, and I’ll point you to someone online who can at least claim to have overcome the true pain of a given illness by accepting it in the larger context of their own lives, and coming to terms with what that meant.

I have long held this belief, and it has a big impact on my approach to business in general and entrepreneurship in particular.

Each new company I’ve been a part of started in a specific direction – call it 180 degrees North – based on a commonly held belief in a set of external truths, and in an opportunity rooted in those truths. As the work to capitalize on that opportunity proceeded, those beliefs were tested against up-close observations in the real world. I’m talking about a hundred individual successes and failures, up and down the scale – uncomfortable conversations and sales triumphs, acrimonious departures and zealous new hires, failed forecasts and prophetic predictions. And with each new data point, the business concept evolves just a little. It moves 10 degrees left, 25 degrees right, a little at a time, as underlying assumptions are identified, confirmed or rejected.

For me this is the true process of entrepreneurship, managing the collision of a business plan and the real world – of an idea with the truth – that turns that idea into something that creates value for the people who believed in it first. This is why entrepreneurial success is more about execution than it is strategy, because in the end great execution brings your strategy in line with The Truth.

At matchmine we say we want people with “Strong opinions, weakly held.” The reason is that you have to execute with conviction in the same direction as everyone else, until it’s time to shift that direction collectively based on discovered truth.

This, and building the team to do it well are the most important aspects of my job, and I must say among the most enjoyable.

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