Commit to excel

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.“ – (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe).

The terms “Commitment” and “Excellence” have been so much used, abused, quoted in and out of context that I know I am just adding to the clutter. But I have a different goal. It’s not meant to be a motivation lecture, I use it here to get people to startup on new ventures. I’ve gotta’ make a living out of it.

What prompted me to write this piece was a series of startup dropouts that I came to know last week. Some of the projects were so near the gate, needing only that bit of an extra nudge. I’ve had grand plans for them, I had already talked up a few VCs over these and in fact had scheduled some meetings in the coming weeks to review the status of the project.

In a few cases, the founder(s) felt they had far too many critics in their team than colleagues. I haven’t gone into the merits of those, but I feel if you can build a team in which disagreements can be frank, even harsh, but where once a decision is made the team can get behind it and implement without reservation, then you actually have a team. I advised them to have the courage to act on their knowledge, but the humility to doubt what they know. When all else is lost, future still remains. Isn’t it ?

Criticism, for me is better than flattery any day. It sometimes hurts, but is less damaging. You’ll soon find out whether she points to a genuine flaw or is she just wanting to prick your ego. While you give both types a right to be heard, you’ve the liberty to not take the latter kind seriously. But flattery is like cologne water, to be smelt of, not swallowed.

I would say every entrepreneur starts off with a success. Know why? By demonstrating the ability to take risks, (s)he has actually crossed the first hurdle – fear of the unknown. It could be either that you’ve considered all aspects of your decision and have taken an intelligent bet or it could just be that you took it like a child crawling playfully towards the edge of a staircase. I have seen almost 80% don’t cross this hurdle, the crucial first step. Allow yourself a celebration for that !

People mistakenly think that if they take a risk and it doesn’t turn out the way they expect it to, that it’s all over. The sky will fall, their world will come crashing down, and that they’ll never bounce back from it. It’s precisely because of that one shot do or die mentality that prevents people from taking risks. Step back and look at the forest. Don’t look at the trees. Risk is not just about looking at one tree. It’s about exploring an entire forest.

You’ve got to understand that risk is nothing but a label and the reason why risk yields so much power over us is precisely because of that. Labels are extremely powerful because we tend to pass judgment solely based on that. When something is labeled, we equate some sort of image to it. Armani – fancy suit. Ferrari – fast car. Nike – running shoes. In this case, what image does the label of risk conjure up? Imminent danger. We judge risk as imminent danger and are influenced by it.

We need to change the label. Stop thinking of risk as just a one shot do or die situation. Instead, start thinking of risk as a journey of exploration. It’s not just about one shot. It’s about a journey, a journey you choose to embark on for the purpose of exploring a different path. Columbus did not take a risk. He chose to go on a journey to explore the new world.” ( Hat tip : Brian Kim)

Commit to excel every one must. In scouring the unknown there’s a sense of excitement. You can’t obviously get this in any other profession except what is creative. Entrepreneurship is as much about creativity as it is about taking risks. And then there’s the glory. If you find any value, any lift of the spirit in a beautiful mathematical proof, in an elegant balletic turn, in any of the myriad human endeavors that have no utility but only breathtaking beauty, then you should feel something when our little species succeeds in establishing new life in a void that for all eternity had been the province of the gods. If you don’t feel that, you are — don’t take this personally — deaf to the music of our time ! .

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