This week, Jodi and Eliot talk about that famous business poet, Rudyard Kipling, and what he has to say about riding the ups and downs of business.
Why is that important for business?
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.” — from Rudyard Kipling’s If.
Just as in life, business involves both triumph and disaster. Sometimes people are better with the triumphs and some are better with the disasters. But it is important to remember that both the peaks and the valleys are temporary.
There is a special hell that comes sometimes after you have achieved what you wanted to achieve, and the effort of keeping that success becomes your torment.
And there is nothing inherently wrong with triumph, of course; it is the imagining that the goal is to get to triumph and STAY there that is the problem. The white knuckle attempt to keep the success often makes us less agile; the fear of another valley, of the next disaster, can actually cause the next valley.
The impostor in Kipling’s poem, then, is any sense of permanence. If you can treat both failure and success as being temporary – if you can make it so they don’t define you, they are just the current state of being – entrepreneurship and business become easier. Because business and entrepreneurship change so much that there really isn’t a point where you “make it”. Every entrepreneur worth their salt knows it is like a saw blade, with ups and downs. And you need to invest more energy in riding that saw blade than in either revelling at the top or despairing at the bottom.
In Mandy Len Catron’s “A better way to talk about love” Ted Talk, she talks about how love is a collaborative work of art. And just as the trick to really wonderful art from young children is to take it away from them before they finish (and fill every inch with every color) the trick to love is to know when to start a new canvas. The same is true in business: not having a good relationship with impermanence can make us hold onto businesses long after they are no longer serving us.
And the businesses that stick around need a relationship with impermanence – they need to embrace evolution. They need to develop a strategic sense of impermanence to succeed over time.
You can fail without being a failure. And you can succeed without making it your identity.
[We also recommend you check out Derek Sivers “Why You Need To Fail”]
“If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough”. Jillian Michaels
If you are simply hanging out in success, what you are experiencing is actually stagnation. It just looks like success because you are comfortable. Real success is allowing failure and allowing evolution. Because evolving inherently involves trying new things that you aren’t good at yet, and letting go of things that no longer fit.
Triumph and Disaster aren’t destinations; they are simply milestones.
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