We All Have ScarsAs you would be able to tell if you could see me as I type this, I am certainly not the embodiment of the modern athlete. There were many times as I child where I spent way too long trying to pull my parents` electronic equipment apart in order to learn about circuit boards, and eventually software, rather than being outdoors running, jumping or swimming.
But I clearly remember one day when I decided to ride my bike with my cousins around my Grandma’s house.
It was a beautiful spring afternoon in Sydney. My grandparents lived in the south-western suburbs, where it was always a few degrees warmer than close to the city. There was no breeze. And the neighbourhood was bustling with children enjoying some school holidays. My cousins had decided they would have a race through the garden which surrounded the 5 or 6 six villas that were in this particular complex. It was sounding like a big deal, and I decided I wanted a piece of the outdoor fun.
My cousins were all much older than me, so by the time I had made a mere five or ten pedal cycles on my bike, they were all almost out of sight. So I set my goal on making sure I wasn’t at least overtaken before the next lap! I fixed my gaze on the approaching corner and decided to pedal harder.
That’s when I realised that my right thong (or “flip-flop” for our overseas readers) had become caught somehow on the bike and had caused me to somehow lose control. Turning the corner was no longer an option, and my bike careered straight into the wall of the outhouse that stood alone in the villa’s garden.
I woke up to a few butterfly stitches, and my parents doting over me in my grandma’s bed. Oh – and countless jeers from my cousins. I had ruined their game, and also managed to make myself look appear completely uncoordinated at the same time.
As I said, I don’t epitomise agility.
We All Have ScarsTo this day, whenever I rest my head on my chin, I can feel the scar from that day. Along with being a reminder that I was probably right in not pursuing my earlier dreams of being an Olympic Cyclist, it also reminds of the lesson I learnt that day. As simple as it seems, I never rode a bicycle in thongs again.
The inspiration for this particular blog post occurred when I was on a conference call with the management team at AppHappening last week. We were discussing the kinds of people for whom we are building apps: the first timers, the come-againers, and the experienced guys. With specific reference to the latter two, the CEO Michael Giffney made a comment: “We all have scars, don’t we?”
And that got me thinking. How autonomously now the scar on my chin affirms that bikes shouldn’t be ridden in thongs. Even though I’m sure my parents told me, it became very real, and I was blessed with a gentle reminder.
Michael was making the point that those of us who have experienced building a business before have all earned our stripes and our scars, one way or another. No matter how many stories you read, or lectures you attend, nothing quite improves you like learning the lesson for yourself.
It’s like the first time you get to wages week, and realise that the promised client payment you were counting on didn’t actually arrive.
Or the first time you agree to break your procedures for a client, and they let you down.
Or the first time you need to pay a lawyer’s bill. For anything!
These same lessons apply to those attempting software and app projects. Sometimes it’s good to try your hand at something, so that you can make the mistakes and earn your scars in a way that will do no more damage than the barely visible scar on my chin.
And with repetition comes improvement. And with time comes experience. And in no time, you’ve learnt from your own actions how to work your way through the process in the smoothest way possible.
We all have scars, don’t we? Try to earn yours in the presence of trusted advisors, only biting off what you can chew, and know that next time will definitely be easier because you’ll have learnt something this time.
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