I’ve been hanging around with the Startup culture for almost two years now. In that time I’ve picked up on some common themes:

  1. “Overnight success” can take years to attain. Pinterest was around for quite a while before everyone “discovered” it.
  2. It often takes complete dedication. No more TV, no more long books, no more weeks off for vacation.
  3. Just because you give it everything and executed perfectly doesn’t mean you’ll be successful
  4. The payoff can be huge, but only for a tiny fraction of the people who try.

Just now they were interviewing the guys who won gold and silver in men’s backstroke. The interviewer said “It’s great to just come out and surprise everyone, eh?” and the athlete said “Oh yeah, it only took 22 years of practice and dedication”. Sound familiar?

There’s a commercial that purports to be the voice of athletes, and they say things like “You know that best selling book everyone’s talking about? I haven’t read it” and “I haven’t watched TV in 2 years”. That’s the dedication a startup needs.

In the men’s swimming relay we had Phelps, Lochte, and 2 other non-famous guys who were yet great swimmers. We had rock stars. And yet we lost. When they asked the athletes about it they simply said “We did the very best we could and the French are great swimmers.” Does anyone at all think that our boys didn’t try hard enough? Didn’t practice long enough? I certainly don’t. But being awesome, or even being the BEST doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win.

The US has fielded hundreds of athletes. The world has fielded many thousands of athletes. As of this post, the US has 17 medals total. 5 Gold. These people are amazing at what they do. The best of the best. But look at how many of them go home with no medals at all.

Something I find interesting is how many of them feel proud, honored and happy to have competed at all. To simply be there. There’s joy in the startup too. To say “I’m doing this” or “I made my play”.

Do everything you can, give it all you have, plot, plan, play, and maybe you’ll make it. But it’s quite a ride.

3 thoughts on “Startups and the Olympics

  1. What I always wonder, though, is how to balance dedication with having a well-rounded life. At what point have you put too much of your soul into something, which you’ll regret decades in the future?

  2. Of all the people I met that made it big. I always ended up asking. How did you make it? or How did you lose it? They always plan on making it but never plan on losing all the money. It’s always some girl drug drinking or ungodly muse or behavior. So I made it, in a way and kept it all balanced. And you know what. I’m tired of fun. Come to think of it you know what fun is. It is work. I don’t want to drink n drug my brain to stupidity. I’m tired of partying. There really isn’t much to life. The faster I drive the more nerve racking and expensive it gets. The bigger the house the bigger the mess. I don’t need to work, so I work for others. Then all my help doesn’t seem to make one bit of difference in their life. So I realize if people would just work on their behavior and attitudes 5 dollars can be worth more than a thousand.

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