I left home this morning at 8:30am to be in Boston for a 10:30am meeting. The first two miles were easy-going, as I meandered the local roads on my way to the highway. I felt good that I was on time and on track, because you never know when even the beginning is slow.
Many things begin slowly and then accelerate.
As I accelerated onto the highway, I was content at my progress and certain I would arrive early and be able to get some work done before my meeting. My hopes were dashed in 30 seconds as the traffic flow suddenly came to a halt. True to Boston form, I switched into the breakdown lane to see if I could maneuver around the stoppage. This worked for a few hundred yards, but then even the breakdown lane stopped.
What to do? I decided to take the next exit in 200 yards. This decision turned out to be the right one. I sped onto the state road that went parallel to the highway, where the traffic flowed smoothly, albeit at 40 MPH.
Making decisions takes practice, and good decisions come from experience and many initial bad decisions.
After a mile or so, a car pulled in front of me from a side street, but rather than accelerating to 40 MPH, he hovered at 30. I became frustrated and tried to find a way to pass him, but to no avail. So, rather than continue in stress, I slowed down to his pace and fell back a couple of yards. It would be of no use to try to go faster or get past him as much as I wanted to.
Acceptance of things out of your control can be a valuable decision.
Eventually, the slow driver went into the left turn lane, and I moved into the right lane. When the light turned green, the car in front of me did not move. Michigan plates. Unfamiliar territory? Checking his phone? Daydreaming? Who knows, but another wave of slight frustration set in. I honked gently, and he started to go. The slow car that had moved into the left turn lane had gone straight and was now ahead of me. He made it through the next light, while I was stuck behind my new slow friend.
In perspective, some obstacles seem better than others.
When the next light changed, I was able to get into the left lane and pass the Michigan plates. Ahead, an accident scene with a fire truck and two ambulances slowed down my first slow friend, so I was behind him again for a moment until he turned off the road. The road was now clear, but Weymouth Landing was coming up, and it had a wicked bad lane layout that was difficult to navigate. I found just the right pacing and weaving to get through the obstacles and be on a normal two-lane road with little traffic. I forged ahead.
Obstacles are everywhere. Learning to navigate is an art that takes practice.
Soon, I was nearing the highway again and the traffic flow was fast. I took the next entrance ramp back on, and accelerated to 60 MPH. Now, I was moving fast, making progress and back on track. I would arrive on time after all.
Once you find your stride, momentum and growth are on your side.
As I continued my way on the highway, it became clear to me that creating a startup is a lot like driving in rush hour. On this day, I was out ahead of the obstacles, but I knew it would not last forever. Startup journeys follow circuitous paths filled with fits and starts, even when they progress forward and gain momentum.
Stability is only the perception of those who are shielded from the truth of business.