Kill your darlings: Adopt these five ways of thinking & increase your chances of start-up success
A few days ago I finished reading one of the best non-fiction books that I’ve read in 2017. This book is called Persuadable and it has been written by Al Pittampali. I picked it up at a Harper Collins warehouse sale at a discounted price but the learnings that I have got from this book are priceless. This is probably the best return-on-investment that I have ever got on a purchase.
One of the most useful and insightful suggestions presented in the book was ‘To Kill Your Darlings’. This was the advice given by Jeff Bezos to one of the most senior leaders who was looking after Amazon’s book business. Bezos wanted the man to focus on growing the e-book and Kindle business of Amazon; even at the cost of negatively affecting the traditional book business. The trends of technology and taste were clearly pointed in the direction of digitization and convenience.
While reading this part of the book, I felt a deep resonance and connection to it in the pit of my stomach. Personal experience- both success and failure has taught me that entrepreneurs need to adopt certain valuable ways of thinking; in order to take their success to the next level. ‘Kill Your Darlings’ is one such way of thinking; and in this article I’m going to expand on it and share a few other valuable ways of thinking your way to success.
1. Have a Vision, but Don’t be too Emotionally Attached to It
We entrepreneurs are practical, but we are most certainly an emotional lot as well. We have a variety of visions regarding our own areas of work and expertise. It is the attachment to our visions that fills us with that blazing energy to push forward and push through the obstacles. However, at a certain point we realize that despite all our efforts we aren’t able to achieve the desired results. Then we need to examine our vision and identify if the problem lies in it. We can fine-tune our vision by taking the objective opinion of those people around us whose objective judgement and intentions we trust.
2. Don’t Let Negative Self-Talk Take Over Your Mind: Keep It Clear & Focussed
All of us are plagued by insecurities in some form or another. However, for entrepreneurs who are committed towards building potentially life transforming businesses, the stakes are even higher. Many of us start engaging in negative self-talk if things don’t go according to plan. Negative self-talk clouds our mind and makes it extremely inward-focussed. This makes us miss out on important cues in the world around us. We miss out on signals from people, from events and from circumstances. This decreases our efficiency and has a negative impact on both our morale, and our success. So, consciously eliminate negative self-talk from your mind and make it a space of clarity and focus.
3. Know What Other People Want: This will Boost Your Personal and Professional Success
The most popular businesses are those that know how to give people what they want, while maintaining business integrity and earning a profit. These are the businesses that invest into market research. These are the businesses that keep their pulse on technology and trends, and can identify ‘tipping points’ and the demands of the future. The most popular people are those who know what the people in their personal circle are like, and can interact with them on a value-addition and authentic level. Such businesses and people have one thing in common: they know what other people want.
4. Learn to Delegate Work: Don’t Do Everything Yourself
I have seen many people stretch the limits of their body, health and time commitments precisely because they do not know how to delegate. They are obsessed with doing everything themselves as they believe that only they can perform tasks in a perfect way. They fear that other people might botch up these tasks, and not perform them up to the expected levels of perfection. This mindset can prove to be very expensive for them in both the short and the long term.
As an entrepreneur, you should invest time in training people to perform the tasks that overstretch your time and energy commitments. Empower them and then delegate tasks to them. Watch your own energy and efficiency levels soar after you do that.
5. Set Timelines for Yourself: Don’t Live a Pipe-Dream Forever
The hard fact is that entrepreneurship, particularly self-financed entrepreneurship, is a financially and mentally stressful undertaking. As far as your circumstances allow, you need to set timelines for achieving your targets. Create plans and hold yourself accountable for your productivity.
Have a back-up plan in case of potential future contingencies. According to an article in Forbes (2015), 90 percent of Startups fail. Knowing you have limited time will allow you to focus more intensely during the window of time available to you. As an entrepreneur, you don’t just have a responsibility to yourself but also to the people who work for you. So be pragmatic, and make responsible use of the time at hand. This will also keep you mentally prepared for the future, and will ensure that your state of mind is stable and sound.