Embrace Thrashing: Being Comfortable Knowing There are Unknowns

Start ups walk a difficult line between having to be ready for rejection and failure and presenting unwavering confidence and knowledge in their idea at the same time. Getting yanked and pulled by the conflicting environment that forces vulnerability and confidence.   Two camps scream advice wildly!   “Embrace Failure!” vs. “Show us you’ll be successful!” “Fail fast!” vs. “Prove to us to you can beat your competition!” “Identify your assumptions and validate them!” vs. “Be confident of your idea!”   Founders are continuously dancing between de-risking and iterating their business model and product while also showing confidence and stability to potential investors and the market. The conflict is obvious, necessary and unfortunately won’t let up anytime soon.   At its worst, when founders are in their problem/solution validation stage and deep in customer development they naturally have more assumptions, more unknowns and a lot more failure ahead of them, so to also put that confident message forward becomes difficult and stressful.   When teams are lost in this place of uncertainty, we call it “Thrashing”. You can see it and they can definitely feel it. Uncertainty reigns supreme.   But here’s the truth, on day one, we make sure teams know and see that we value the thrashing. It’s a sign of engagement, learning and the edge of breakthrough. A difficult place to live, but something that easily separates those that want to start a company and those that do.   There are two types of people. Both arrive at the moment of thrashing, but one turns away and returns to his comfort of status quo, while the other pushes through, confident that something lies on the other side.   Some new insight that will give them the edge.   [author author_image=”https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/525351144613089280/uSmgz-Ih_400x400.jpeg”]Erin brings design thinking, customer development and Innovation Lab approaches to teams as a collaborator, mentor and partner. You can follow Erin at @ErinStadler.[/author]