Building a business is a challenge, actually it’s the most challenging thing I have ever done. Sometimes the challenges are so great that I find myself slipping into a future mindset. Things will be better when the product/market fit risk is mitigated. Or things will be easier when the team expands. Or even better yet, life will be easy when market traction accelerates and profitability increases. This is a false way of thinking.
I had first discovered the fallacy of this mindset while reading “The Power Of Now” years ago at the recommendation of a colleague. Back then I had thoroughly understood the concept and for the most part, had greatly reduced this longing for the future. However, when challenges heighten, so to does a probability of regressing to former habits.
If the present is difficult you may prefer a past as opposed to a future orientation. Living in the past, or what you believe to have had occurred in the past, is not any better. Consider the following words from Ken Wilber as stated in “The Spectrum Of Consciousness”:
“The conventional ‘self’ or ‘person’ is composed mainly of a history of consisting of selected memories, and beginning from the moment of parturition. According to convention, I am not simply what I am doing now. I am also what I have done, and my conventionally edited version of my past is made to seem almost the more real ‘me’ than what I am at this moment. For what I am seems so fleeting and intangible, but what I was is fixed and final. It is the firm basis for predictions of what I will be in the future, and so it comes about that I am more closely identified with what no longer exists than with what actually is.”
The past and future are false, there is only now. Further consider the following passage from Ken Wilber recalling a Zen story as originally conveyed by an American psychotherapist:
“I rose and walked about, rotating my feet to move my aching ankles. Relieved, I returned to my sitting position. ‘Are you able to see the footsteps?’ the Roshi asked. ‘No.’ He nodded his head. ‘They were not there before and are not there now. There was nothing in your life before and nothing in the future, only’ – and he burst forth again with ‘ah!”
I found the preceding passages fascinating in that they help convey why only the present matters. In terms of building a business there will always be challenges. The challenges will also increase with scale. Once the product/market fit is achieved there will be a scaling challenge. When the team expands I will have less operational responsibility, but more managerial responsibility and direct reports. When market traction accelerates and profitability increases there will be less time to enjoy the profitability.
As with life, a business is a never ending set of challenges. Once one problem is solved, another will emerge. These problems are tests of sorts. We should be thankful for all of life’s challenges, both personal and professional. The more we are capable of taking on, the more we are capable of overcoming.
Learn to live in the moment and enjoy the present challenges and opportunities.
1. Ekhart Tolle. The Power Of Now:
2. Ken Wilber. The Spectrum Of Consciousness:
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