Pivotal Moment Stories

June 19, 2007

Doesn’t it seem like you can have two stories in your life? There is the story you had before your success, which has its own rhythm and set of characters. And there is the story you have after the success.

I was thinking of heavily celebrated entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, JP Morgan, and Disney, who were normal people before they succeeded in business, and suddenly became mythologized super beings.

I think an alternative story needs to get heard more often, at least this new story is more inspirational to myself:

There was this guy who had a vision of doing things a different way. He was actually pretty poor at transmitting his vision, largely because the conceptual components necessary to transmit the vision easily would not come into full existence until the vision had been realized. Most of his friends encouraged, but did not believe in him. His parents always believed in him, but even they did not understand him very well.

Eventually the protagonist changes the world when everyone catches on to his good idea. The story is still the success story, but it is heavy enough on the unpleasant reality of being viewed as slightly insane and going in the wrong direction.

Success seems to me a lot like surfing, where wave after wave appears to come and you have to paddle every time, even when the wave does not materialize. If you look out at the ocean, and you see people doing this, but you only look for five minutes, you may just think the people are crazy because the purpose of their paddling is not obvious.

I think the worse part of it is that in creating ideas to drive companies there is not even the advantage of seeing a swell. It is more like you are paddling in the middle of entirely calm water. Of course, the people who are successful are paddling all the time, moving from place to place, claiming a big wave is coming.

This is why it is good to surround yourself with people who have a similarly distorted view of reality. It makes it easier to keep going. You all believe the wave is coming.

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