Be Careful How You Tell Yourself “The Story So Far”

By | 2017-04-15T09:00:48+00:00 June 26th, 2008|skmurphy, Startups|9 Comments

It takes a long time to be an overnight success. It’s very important how your tell yourself and others the “story so far” of your entrepreneurial journey.

Story So Far (Karl-Ludwig Poggemann: look downstairs into stairwell whirl)Be Careful How You Tell Yourself
“The Story So Far”

I had a long conversation today with a startup CEO who has been bootstrapping since 2004. It was enjoyable and energizing–I always enjoy talking to folks trying to create something new. We talked about a lot of things that he had tried that hadn’t worked (I was able to recall a few of my own less successful strategies as well, once I put my mind to it). It can take a long time to be an overnight success. That means it’s very important how your tell yourself and others the “story so far” of your entrepreneurial journey.

Stubbornness is the Energy of Fools

As we were wrapping up I told him that I had one concern. He had referred to himself as “stubborn” several times. This may be accurate–or what his wife calls him–but it’s not a positive quality. A stubborn person does the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. The Germans say that “stubbornness is the energy of fools.”

Persevering and Continuing to Experiment

I suggested a better phrase might be “persevering and continuing to experiment.” I think it makes a difference in your own outlook how you tell “…the story so far.”

You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend or not”
Isabel Allende

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Overnight Success

The challenge with overnight success in a startup–like many other things in life–is that you need to integrate many different inputs, your own hopes and fears among them, and negotiate a working consensus with your co-founders to be successful.

Persevering vs. Tenacious

Update June 27, Ray Salemi suggests in the comments that the word I wanted to use was “tenacious.”

I learned the word from a Peanuts cartoon where Lucy keeps telling Linus he is stubborn and Linus insists he is tenacious (“Tenacity is what carried George Washington through Valley Forge,” says Linus.)

Tenacious has a sense of steadfast holding on, retaining what you already have, with an implication of obstinacy. A defense can be tenacious, but start-ups have to play offense: they have to end up somewhere distant from where they started to thrive. Washington kept the Continental Army viable at Valley Forge, but he renewed their hope–and their vital re-enlistments–by persevering in crossing the Delaware and overwhelming the Hessian garrison at Trenton.

American Heritage Dictionary defines “persevere” as

To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement.

Webster’s Revised Unabridged says

“To persist in any business or enterprise undertaken; to pursue steadily any project or course begun; to maintain a purpose in spite of counter influences, opposition, or discouragement; not to give or abandon what is undertaken.”

Photo Credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann: look downstairs into stairwell whirl

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9 Comments

  1. Ray Salemi June 27, 2008 at 5:59 am

    I think this word you want is “Tenacious.”

    I learned the word from a Peanuts cartoon where Lucy keeps telling Linus he is stubborn and Linus insists he is tenacious (“Tenacity is what carried George Washington through Valley Forge,” says Linus.)

    Lucy finally punches him and Linus is left alone sitting on the ground thinking to himself, “Perhaps I was being a bit pigheaded.”

    Those old Peanuts (before Woodstock) were great sources of vocabulary.

  2. […] Especially the energy to continue to experiment until you persevere. […]

  3. SKMurphy » So…What’s Your Story? January 4, 2011 at 5:31 am

    […] have blogged before that you need to be careful how you tell yourself  “the story so far.” I was reminded of it as I spent time today  editing some interviews for my “Entrepreneurial […]

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