Not literally of course, but startups need to ‘run with scissors’, be reckless, take risks, and get results quickly at the get go. It’s at this stage when the risk is low, reward high, and mistakes are more readily overcome.
A startup shouldn’t be worrying about getting all the details right or being perfect because at that point there are too many unknowns: the market, the needs, and even the solution.
How can they focus on perfection when they’re not sure of what they need to perfect?
Once they’re out there, working with real customers in the actual market, they’ll quickly understand what’s important, what works and what doesn’t, and they’ll be able to adjust and adapt accordingly.
In short, when a startup is just getting started, embrace the scrappiness, hustle, and get shit done.
The difficult part comes in keeping this mentality as they grow.
Now they’re more reluctant to take risks because they’ve established themselves and built a reputation that they don’t want to damage. So instead of innovating and running with scissors they’re more careful and try to be perfect.
More often than not, this approach will lead to some hot new startup surpassing them, one that isn’t concerned with taking risks and making mistakes.
I’ve heard a lot about information overload lately and how it’s killing our productivity. How we get analysis by paralysis or are all suffering from A.D.D. In short, this notion is absolutely ridiculous.
I can understand that some people may have trouble adapting to the sudden influx of information readily available to us, but the problem isn’t too much information, the problem is we don’t know what to do with it.
More importantly, it’s become clear that information is going to continue growing exponentially and become more and more accessible.
So how can information overload be a myth? Because we are now beginning to understand how to handle all of this information in two clear ways.
1. Organization Of Information
With the exponential increase in information, there was no real way to organize it, which was the first major challenge encountered.
Now, we’ve started to create structures and filters around our information in the form of reviews and curators and search engines, all of which make it easier to both filter and access the information we NEED.
This is the key point – there has always been a lot of information available, but all of a sudden we had access to all of it through the internet.
As we further develop tools and platforms, the organization of this information allows us to use it much more effectively and efficiently.
2. Adaptation To Information
The second piece of the puzzle is adapting to the new standard of information surplus, which I believe the next generation will be masters at.
For example, just look at how a kid does homework nowadays. Music is blasting, the TV is on, they’re texting their friends, and browsing Facebook – all while writing a paper on American History or doing Calculus homework.
They’ve adapted and embraced the excess information at such a young age that the idea of information overload becomes laughable.
It’s clear that information will continue to grow, but our organization of it and adaptation to it, makes the thought of information overload a myth.
In the early 1990′s, a team of scientists at the University of Parma made an amazing discovery.
Observing macaque monkeys, they noticed a certain group of neurons in their brains fired not only when a monkey performed an action, such as grabbing a banana from a tree, but also when a monkey watched someone else perform the same action.
Monkey see, monkey do and Eureka! Mirror Neurons were born.
What Are Mirror Neurons?
A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires when an action is observed. The interesting thing is that it’s the same set of neurons that fire when the action is actually being done.
Basically the neuron ‘mirrors’ the behavior of the action being observed, simulating the experience in one’s brain. Mirror neurons can be triggered by what you see, hear, or read.
The point of debate is whether or not these mirror neurons translate to actual meaning, association, or both. Either way, they appear to be essential in our ability to understand one another’s feelings, emotions, and behaviors.
What’s The Value?
The discovery of mirror neurons opens up a couple of intriguing real world applications.
Mirror neurons can be utilized for imitation and guiding behavior through action.
For example, when one person yawns, someone who sees this is soon yawning themselves. This same idea can be applied in various situations. Suppose you’re going to an interview or giving a presentation, putting on your best smile can be contagious to others and raise the spirits of everyone involved.
When we mirror other people with intent, it can be an important part of building rapport and nurturing feelings of understanding.
By seeing that mirror neurons allow us to comprehend feelings through sight and sound, one can use this information to better communicate with their audience.
Writers, directors, advertisers and others can utilize this research to make their stories even more powerful, as they uncover associations between what we observe and how we feel.
Other value, such as its benefit in treating learning disorders and being the key to empathy are largely hypothetical, but could lead to more breakthroughs in the future.
In the end, mirror neurons are an interesting discovery in the human mind and something we can be aware of in our daily lives.
You’re completely immersed in the task at hand, your ideas arrive one after the other, and everything is coming together perfectly. You see the path forward with clarity and the more you work the more excited you get.
You’ve lost track of time, you’re tired, and haven’t eaten in awhile, but nothing is distracting you from your work.
You’re in the zone, you’re in a state of Flow.
What Is Flow
According to psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (I have no idea how to pronounce that), flow is described as follows:
“being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
The key to flow is being in the correct work state, which makes all the difference in how productive you are. These work states are broken down into 8 regions that are reached based on the challenge and skill level being engaged.
You can see the 8 work states below and how they related to each other.
Your work state is determined by the level of skill being used and challenge being faced; flow is achieved when you have the highest skill level and challenge to engage with.
You can adjust your activities to enter the appropriate work state, as the key is having a challenge that is difficult, but still attainable based on your skill level.
For example, if you find yourself doing something very challenging, but don’t quite have the skills yet, you’d be in the Arousal State. In this situation, you’re challenging your curiosity and developing your skills. You could either attain the skill level you need or take on a slightly less difficult challenge for which your skills are better matched.
As you can see, it’s all about the balance between challenge and skill.
How To Achieve Flow
1. Challenge/Skill Balance: Find something challenging for you, that you enjoy doing, and that you have the skills to be successful at. Too easy and you’ll be bored. Too difficult and you’ll be frustrated.
2. Set Clear Goals/Tasks: You need to know what you want to accomplish. Understanding the tasks and goals makes it easier for you to progress as you engage in the activity.
3. Focus Like A Laser: You must focus on that task at hand, no distractions, no divided attention. The task is your one and only goal and everything else should be shut out.
4. Allocate Enough Time: If you’re trying to achieve flow, you need to give yourself enough time, not only to enter it (which takes about 15 minutes according to research), but to take advantage of it once you’re there.
5. Good Energy: You want to have enough energy to tackle the challenge you’re facing, but also have a clear mind that won’t be distracted or stressed about other parts of your life.
6. Drop The Ego: The activity should be meaningful for it’s own sake, it’s all about creating and NOT specifically the outcome. There should be no fear of failure or anxiety. It’s all about the process.
Want to know more? Check out the book and TED Talk by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.