Jim Collins put forward the now common and widespread business adage that ‘Good is the enemy of Great’, theorizing that the way to prevent oneself from achieving greatness is by settling for what’s only good enough.
Entrepreneurs can run the risk of thinking our idea is not fit to be released until it satisfies our perfectionist ideals. Immediate entrepreneurial perfection is rarely mandated, except in fields such as healthcare and certain kinds of manufacturing (building bombs, space shuttle parts, and bridges would qualify).
Good is not the enemy of, but rather the iterative precursor to greatness. Even Amazon says it is still striving to be the earth’s most customer-centric company. This doesn’t happen by rejecting good. Amazon has taken time and steadily iterated past good towards becoming great at this particular goal.
The entrepreneur striving for greatness faces an enemy far worse than good: Jadedness. Jadedness is the human condition I fear most, for it is what robs us of the joy of being ourselves. When was the last time you felt wonder or true unbridled happiness? I hope it was not long ago. Jadedness can occur if you’re working alone on a project with no feedback loop to acknowledge your own progress. These are some of the things I’ve done over the last few years.
- Keep looking for new perspective. If you lose motivation, spend more time reading news, books, and surrounding yourself with outside influences that can help you understand your project a bit better.
- Brainstorm entirely new concepts. See where they take you, explore the interesting ones, and ‘take the red pill’ as often as you can.
- Be mindful of new unforeseen connections to your project in other areas of your life experience (ads on TV, dinner conversations with friends, and so on).
- Find new perspectives on your idea from a stakeholder you haven’t yet explored (the better a job you’ve done in customer development, the more irrelevant this one will hopefully be)
- Subside the guilt to take a few days off if you feel you need fresh direction.
- Rid yourself of jaded environments, either by leaving or by changing and imbuing them with innovation and enthusiasm.
- Don’t be afraid to do what others say you shouldn’t. The famous entrepreneurs we care enough to listen to have all made that choice.
Always be ready to challenge the status quo. Be ‘silly’ and let your silliness overflow into dry environments around you. Stay hungry, stay foolish.