Welcome back.

Have you thought about subscribing? It's free.

Walking away from the idée fixe

“It’s going to be exactly like THIS. It has to be, and I don’t want to hear otherwise. Don’t you believe in me?”

The wedding with the perfect dress, the perfect cake, the perfect groom. It doesn’t matter that the family, the finances and yes, our spouse all don’t want it.

The business with the famous venture capitalist behind it, the IPO, the business model. It doesn’t matter if the people we seek to serve can’t support that.

The musical career with a debut at Carnegie Hall, the glowing reviews and the fancy record deal. It doesn’t matter that the practice and the compromises make you unhappy…

There are industries in place that groom us to do things a certain way. Not because it’s good for us or our mission, but because it’s easier or more profitable for them.

In fact, you can make a ruckus online without venture funding (most people who do don’t have it). In fact, you can have a happy marriage without a big wedding. And in fact, you can happily write your novel without Random House publishing it.

I know you’ve been proving the naysayers wrong for so long that by now it feels like a regular part of the journey. It’s entirely possible, though, that the folks who are pointing out that the industry’s path might not be your path have a point.

For every person who has proven the skeptics wrong, there are a hundred who should have listened to them and done the work they cared about instead of keeping track of the wrong metrics.

Begin at the beginning: who are you serving? What does a successful contribution look like?

The arc and the arch

They sound similar, but they’re not.

An arc, like an arch, is bent. The strength comes from that bend.

But the arc doesn’t have to be supported at both ends, and the arc is more flexible. The arc can take us to parts unknown, yet it has a trajectory.

An arch, on the other hand, is a solid structure. It’s a bridge that others have already walked over.

Our life is filled with both. We’re trained on arches, encouraged to seek them out.

But an arc, which comes from “arrow,” is the rare ability to take flight and to go further than you or others expected.

“Well, that’s a dumb idea”

As dumb as selling shoes, an item that comes in 100s of sizes, over the internet.

As dumb as expecting people to find a date or a spouse online.

As dumb as building an encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

You get the idea. Electric cars with 100-mile range, vegan hamburgers, milk made from oats, free college courses…

The next breakthrough is almost certainly going to be something really dumb. Or perhaps merely obvious and unoriginal.