Adjusting the Sails

Mat Cheuvront

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 4 months since I’ve written a word here at Life Without Pants. As much as you may have missed me, I can assure you, I’ve missed you – and this place – much more.

But I haven’t “gone” anywhere, I can assure you that. More than anything, I’ve been busy changing (in a good way), thinking, tinkering, iterating, and adjusting the sails to chart a course for what’s next.

I read this from my friend Sarah Bray a while back:

“I am embarrassed to keep changing, to keep moving, to keep adjusting the sails. And I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I want everyone to think I know what I’m doing…that I’ve figured it out somehow. But I don’t, and none of us do, and it’s beautiful. So where’ve I been? Right here…”

We (collectively) are deathly afraid of reinventing ourselves.

We build up a platform that’s successful and/or we settle into a place that feels comfortable, and at every opportunity we have to potentially do something better or greater, we retreat back to what “has been” – what’s less challenging, what won’t rock the boat.

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Care more than you need to.

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“Care. Care more than you need to, more often than expected, more completely than the other guy.” - Seth Godin

I spent one morning last week sipping a Cortado at my favorite local coffee shop, working through a stack of business cards I had collected from a recent conference I attended.

A few hours later and after more than 50 emails sent, I started getting some replies. Inevitably, as personal as my emails were, I received several responses that prefaced their response with, “I don’t have a budget to work with you right now”.

This wasn’t shocking, of course. I, too, have been “solicited” mightily over the years after attending an event. But it got me thinking about the way the “real world” works – and how transactions have jaded us from building valuable relationships.

Time is precious, to be sure, but if we’re only making time for conversations and partnerships that have a “return on investment”, we’re losing sight of the benefit in making real, genuine connections.

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We keep building.

Proof - we keep building

“It’s really hard. It’s intense. It’s a struggle. It’s ambiguous. It changes a lot. It’s all consuming. It’s a lot of sausage making. It’s working weekends to hit numbers and dates. It’s stretching people beyond their comfort zone. It’s insisting on doing it better even when it’s already pretty good. It’s being brutally honest about gaps and weaknesses. It’s one day you’re headed in one direction and the next day another, because the first move wasn’t the best move. It’s being ok with things not working because that creates opportunities to learn how to fix it.”Jason Goldberg, CEO, Fab

I run a startup. We’ve been around almost four years now and without a doubt the past 12 months have been the most difficult. I’ve talked before about managing the entrepreneurial ebb and flow and recently the roller-coaster has felt more like the Grizzly River Rampage (that’s a subtle reference for my fellow Nashville natives but to the rest of you, it means it’s been exciting, but to be honest, downright terrifying).

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