Launching and running a startup is not for the faint of heart. Danger lurks everywhere.

We’ve been talking about this a lot lately. As things really start to lift off for us, we’re increasingly conscious of the peril of missteps; there is more and more to lose by making the ‘wrong’ move. I’ve been observing how stultifying this can be.  The fear of “blowing it” as our ship leaves the port is powerful.

This evening I was discussing this challenge with Adam Kreek, a veteran executive coach and dear friend. Adam reminded me how our ancestors naturally developed a keen eye for danger.  The snake in the brush could bite and kill. Thanks to the power of natural selection, we were gifted by birth with the ability to recognize signs of that threat, and react appropriately.

Adam went on to explain that on the contrary, our ancestors did not develop natural reactions to seeing flowers. Unlike snakes, flowers can bring both joy (beauty) as well as sustenance (food). To fully extract the value availed in the flower, we needed to direct our attention toward seeking the benefit. We had to try new things; to experiment. And sometimes, that experimentation might have presented a certain risk that among the flowers, lurks a snake.

Adam was trying to help me see something important: very little is to be gained by spending our time and attention on avoiding threats. They are out there, lurking among the opportunities.  If we we want to succeed, we must put our attention on seeking out and exploiting opportunities. And we must accept that it comes with the threat of making mistakes. One gives the other. And mistakes are going to happen. The alternative: avoid mistakes; do nothing. (Not a very interesting business model).

What I take from this is that our job at QiiQ is not to avoid mistakes, but to seek out opportunities.  We try new things, knowing that some of those things won’t bear much fruit. Our advantage as a startup is that we can try new things on the cheap, and not worry about paying huge penalties for errors. We can learn from those mistakes, adding to our wisdom, and at the same time show our true grace by smiling and moving on with our adventure. And where necessary, show our compassion and empathy to those who resented trying the new thing, and also to those who regret the failure.

Onward ho!