Unless you’re a Jedi knight with voodoo super powers you can’t create things with your mind. Sadly enough, you’re not Dr. Strange with power over the mystic arts and wicked hair. (And apparently, creepy blue eyes?!?!)
As much as you’d like it to be the case, you can’t will things into existence. I know, I’ve tried.
I used to spend more time than I’d like to admit (except for the fact that I’m admitting it here) convincing myself things would be OK. The supreme confidence you need to start a company suddenly morphs into delusion, and you convince yourself that willpower alone will make things better. It doesn’t work. You might catch a lucky break (and then convince yourself that it was entirely as a result of your own abilities), but more often than not you end up paralyzed, unable and uncertain about what to do, and just hoping/praying/willing something to happen.
This is the life of most startup founders. At some point in your career running companies, you will find yourself in this situation–stuck, paralyzed and trying to use willpower to turn things in your favor.
These days I’m fairly conscious of when I’m having one of those moments (or days). My productivity slips, I’m overly frustrated with things, and feel like I’m caught in quicksand. I catch myself –much earlier than I used to– and recognize the fact that I’m just sitting there hoping things will work. Maybe I always knew I was doing it, now I’m just faster to admit it.
When I find myself trying to will things into existence, I want to break out of that mode as quickly as possible. I’d encourage you to do the same. My approach is fairly simple: tackle small tasks (maybe those you’ve been putting off for awhile to try and fry bigger fish) and get them done. Cross stuff off your todo list. Make even a small amount of progress, based off of pure effort (skill and brain power aren’t as required to break out of the malaise), and then build your confidence back up from there. It sounds cliche, but “putting in a hard day’s work” matters, even if the value of the work isn’t going to turn everything around and solve every problem. Your ego will respond well to the effort. You’ll look back and say to yourself, “I didn’t solve the biggest issue today, but I took care of stuff that had to get done. I moved the ball.” And that’ll be enough, hopefully, to break out of the delusion and get you back on track.
It works for me. Some days I’ll be incredibly productive handling lots of smaller issues, and that’ll give me the boost I need to go back into the bigger issues and tackle them again. It’ll break me out of pretending I’ll suddenly solve everything through willpower alone, and remind me of what it takes to succeed. Insanely hard work. Communication with the team. Focus. Lots and lots of focus. And yes, luck. And faith. And willpower too.
Photo courtesy of edwick.