June 9, 2012
Always Be Delivering
There are many words flung around to describe pretty much the same thing. That is using time, talent, and other resources to create value. This is the essential thing. The one thing that matters, in business, in relationships, in sports, in life.
Lots of people talk. Some people do.
As a mentor at the Jumpstart Foundry, it has become quite clear to me that the startups in this summer's class are being inundated with massive amounts from input and advice. While this is a really great thing, the biggest challenge I think they are going to have is to filter, make decisions, and more than anything else execute.
In my role as VP of Engineering for Eldarion my primary goal and purpose is to make sure we ship. If we don't ship the business cannot survive. If we don't ship, clients get angry, our own sites whither on the vine, and our partnerships become strained.
As a husband and a father, it requires a good amount of effort to make sure that I am delivering value to my family. Do I just let life happen to us? No, I say. The only acceptable thing to do is to be intentional with the relationships God has blessed me with. This means taking the time to listen, to play with, to create memories. It also means often taking the hard road and being consistent with discipline.
Even in sports, "shipping" something is oftentimes better than nothing at all.
I was recently relaying a lesson to my son prior to one of his soccer matches that my dad taught me back when I was a teenager playing football. This was something that no coach ever taught me, but I found great success applying it.
I guess you could say, this is when I first learned the benefits of "shipping".
You see, I have the tendancy to over analyze things and as a young defensive end, I was getting paralyzed analyzing the the play in motion. In football, each player has very specific sets of responsibilities and often needs to react to different situations that are unfolding in front of them in real- time.
Some players are very good at this real-time decision making. I was not one of them. I would get paralyzed analyzing the situation and would end up doing nothing, I would be completely ineffective on the play.
What my dad told me one night walking home from a game (we lived a few blocks from the school) was that in the case where I was unsure of what to do, put the analysis out of my mind and just do something.
More specifically as a defensive end in our particular defense it was important for me to detect run versus pass and keep the offensive tackle off of our middle linebacker so that he could effectively navigate the field to make the tackle. So my solution? Often times I just resorted to beating the guy in front of me off the ball to try and blow up the play in the backfield. Stop thinking and do. This was not perfect by any means, and I got plenty of heat from my coaches for shirking my responsbilities, but it was more effective than not doing anything at all.
Likewise, I told my son, while it is important to do the right thing in your position and situation on the soccer field, it would be worse to do nothing. The most important thing you can do, I told him, is to not hesitate, to act, be aggressive and generate forward momentum with all your heart. Again, the results were not pretty and he got out of position plenty, but it was fun to watch him having more fun, playing with more freedom, and generating plays as a result.
As these two sports examples demonstrate, I think it's better to worry less with perfection and pick a course of action and do it with intensity. Then layer in instruction and direction. It's still important to do the right thing. It's still important to be in position. It's still important to play as a team and protect your middle linebacker. But not at the cost of forward momentum. There is a lot you can do with just intensity and forward progress, even if it's not pretty.
This applies to business and more specifically building software as well. It's far better to focus on getting something that is 80% right out the door and into the wild, than to hem and haw, redesign, rework, until you feel that it's 100% right.
Ship something today. Make the choice to be a person who delivers.