When you’ve been an entrepreneur long enough, one thing is for sure: you have to ship or die. Whatever product or service you offer, as long as there’s a viable market for it, you’re in business.
You stay in business as long as you keep producing or serving to meet the demand that identifies your particular market, whether it’s left-handed scissors, specialty wax seals, or antique car detailing. And if you truly are fully engaged with these things, and get to make a living out of that engagement, then more power to you.
There is a caveat, though.
“Follow your passion,” overlooks the goal of your work.
It’s easy to overlook that the root word of ‘passion‘ comes from the Latin for ‘suffering.’ Following your passion is easy to say; it’s just three words anyway, but the sentence doesn’t cover what happens after, and that’s where many people stumble. Pipe dreams die easily when you apply hard logic to them, and for many who prefer the dream, they can come unprepared for the hard work of making it into a reality.
See, the hard part is that some parts of the dream won’t make it, so you need to let them go.
“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” – Erica Jong, author
Now, let’s take about productivity, and how it ties in to “ship or die.”
One idea you have to learn to relinquish is the thought of a perfect product. If you have trouble releasing a product to face the public, have you ever really tried to answer the question, “When will it be good enough?” definitively? Do you have a protocol for bug fixes and releases, but have a habit of being slow on the actual launching?
Let’s put it as a sport. Say, soccer. Using moving goal posts in soccer is a crazy-making endeavor. You’d never know if you’d scored a goal, or when the game ends — and the point is to score a goal, right? And the point of hitting goals is to win, right?
And the point of a product is to get it out there.
If the customers don’t get it it’s useless.
If it doesn’t reach the customers it’s useless.
It you don’t let it go to do what it’s supposed to do– what you intended or designed or created it to do– it’s useless.
All the hard work of ‘perfecting’ came to a stillbirth of your ‘perfect’ idea. It doesn’t go out to get tested. It won’t grow and change in the world. It won’t ever reach the people it was meant to help.
On a more personal level:
If you don’t put a limit on your productivity, you will burn out.
It’s a question of leading the pack, of being on the bleeding edge. Of course you want your product to succeed. Of course you want it to be the best . So you work on it, and you clean it up, and you polish it. And then you tweak it some more.
And a little bit more.
Or, if you’re a bit more poetic, you pour your heart and soul into it. And you keep pouring.
Now, have you ever give a thought as to what happens when you run dry?
Even more importantly, have you ever connected the exhaustion and stress in your life to areas in which you’ve ‘over-poured’ yourself due to moving goalposts?
One life tip: when you learn to identify the point of diminishing returns, you get into the habit of letting things go at the right time and you stop doing too much. The operative word here is ‘too’; Too much, too little, too soon, too late….it’s that little space between enough and “Oh, NO.”
The thought process to wean yourself away from this kind of mindset lays out like this:
Train yourself to be aware of the energy you have.
Time is a constant — you only have 24 hours in a day. You need to rest. Energy is variable. It is affected by your mental and emotional state, as well as your physical condition. You can do things to keep your energy up and consistent, eg: relying on the trifecta of exercise, healthy eating, and self-care techniques.
Presence is variable — you can strengthen it as you would a muscle.
You can use the Pomodoro technique, or any measured burst of work followed by a break. Meditation helps. So does making an environment. Presence is still finite — trying to go 100% for sprints is ok, but on a regular basis it would be taxing on the body. Life shouldn’t be a sprint. You need to take time off to rest.
Pull back from the go-go-go, all-out thinking. Practice being appropriate in your actions and responsiveness.
Other words of “appropriate” are “suitable” and “befitting.” In simpler terms: you do what fits the situation. No need to go overboard. You can multitask and stress, or you can single-task and find flow.
Put these things together, shake the bottle to mix well, and here’s the result: You can always spend more time and effort on work– there is no end to that if you don’t let it.
But— are the results getting shipped out?
Bare bones truth — nothing gets sold if you don’t ship.
For the true entrepreneurial spirits out there, it’s ready, fire, aim. Or , ready, ship, refine. After the feedback comes in, it’s lather, rinse, repeat.
If you don’t mind taking time away from things that weigh less than important work, you’ll get the priority items done. But it isn’t only time that you need to weigh. There are other important things.
It is effort — It’s like daily scrubbing down of the house, measured against cleaning what needs to be cleaned and no more. Or better yet, outsource your cleaning needs and free up more time for you to focus on the high-value activities you can do.
It is value and focus— It’s like spending an hour driving around to save cents on gas at a cheaper station, measured against spending an hour getting the kinks out of your marketing and promotional funnel process to boost sales and streamline the process.
It is execution – It’s refreshing pages to get the ‘latest’ news, against deliberately taking an afternoon off to recharge away from anything electronic, and get the chance to refresh your brain.
And not only that.
Timeliness – Will it fix the issue fast? Will it be the right fix?
Relevance – Is this thing the right answer to the issue?
Effectiveness – Will this thing fix the problem it was designed to fix?
What about your part?
How much extra effort are you prepared to give?
How much will it improve the situation, and for how long?
Is the improvement that good, vital, or game-changing?
From what other areas of your life are you taking time and focus away from in order to do this? For as long as you’re focusing on the Very Important Project, what are the effects on those neglected areas, and are you alright to handle the fallout in those areas?
How much are you getting out of the work you’re putting into a thing? This is the main factor in determining when to stop. When something takes more out of you or your life that it’s putting back, you should reconsider. The value of a goal is commensurate to the value it returns for the labor you put in into reaching it.
The value of our life-time put the burden on us to make sure that what we do matters to us —- matters to us enough to spend our time on it. So when you’re busy attending to the many tasks of your chosen business, don’t let the demands of the moment make you lose yourself the chase for perfect. Take the next step. Do the best you can, and let the work go.
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