When I started working on Failed Normal the idea was that I was going to continue creating a large amount of video content. I setup Vimeo so that I could use it as the back end distribution system for the videos, and configured everything so that the videos would only be available on Failed Normal. It’s a beautiful setup, and I highly recommend video content creators look at combining Vimeo with WordPress for their own platforms. For me there came only one problem. I really don’t want to do videos.
This is the point in the story where I’m supposed to go into how my teddy bear touched me in a naughty place when I was a teenager, and that Susan Wajowski’s handling of the Adpocolypse is giving me PTSD flash backs to all those years ago. I should cry in despair as I scream, “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND”, as everyone comes in to give me a big old virtual bear hug. Now is the time for group therapy, drinking hot cups of tea while staring out at the Scottish Moors, saying, “How did we get here?” This is what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to try to dig deep into your inner most desires and fears and confront all the the things that you have not been able to stare in the eye until now. For most startup folks this process will take anywhere between a year to half a decade as they find their center so that they know their place in the world and can then launch something great.
Here’s the thing… I just don’t wanna… I could say that being on video so much provides an emotional nakedness that I’m just not that comfortable with. I could say I’m kinda tired of hearing my own voice. Or possibly just say that even I think the guy staring back at me in the camera is a bit of a prick much of the time. Those reasons would all be true, but they are not the real truth. The pure truth is… I just don’t wanna…
I think this is a problem a lot of tech professionals and startup folks run into. They’ve been told every obstacle requires introspection and determination. They think that if they come to some amazing revelation about themselves and then plough through doing what they don’t want to do that somehow it will get better. To be clear in some instances this is true. I create content everyday even when I don’t really feel like it, but there’s a difference between muscling through a dreary day, and getting yourself to do what to your bones you just don’t want to do. There is no part of me that wants to create a video. NONE.
The thing to remember in the tech world is that we get measured on what we ship. What do we put out into the world? You don’t get points for intention. You don’t get points for what you mean to do. You live or die based on what you ship. So I could sit at my desk everyday and try to find whatever it was that made me want to do videos and maybe every few days I could put something out. I would hate doing it, the end product probably wouldn’t be great, and there wouldn’t be much on offer that would convince viewers to sign up for membership. OR… as I’m doing… I can happily tippy tap away at my keyboard and publish 2-3 posts per day that essentially run over the same material that I would have said in a video. In one of these situations I have a half dead website that Tony Robbins would have a tough time selling, and on the other I have a site that is constantly updated and has something new for members every day.
I see with so many tech professionals and founders where they waste time going through motions that don’t actually ship product. They sit for hours on end staring at a coding book, or tutorial, but not digesting a darn thing. They go to trade shows, but then sit behind the display table with their heads buried in their smartphone because they don’t “wanna” talk to people. There’s a point to suck it up, drive on, and get it done. But there’s also the point to realize you’re wasting time and not actually moving the ball forward in the least.
In the tech world you need to ship product. Every moment you’re not shipping is a moment closer to professional death. If you find yourself not doing what you “should be” doing, then get to work on what you are going to do. If you refuse to interact with people at trade shows then stop wasting resources on trade shows. If you’ve barely gotten through one module of a training series in a week, it probably means you should find a different skill to master.
Dreaming about possibilities, and how you imagine your future to be is fun, but gets you nowhere. Drinking beer while commiserating with peers is great fun, but generally gets you nowhere. Figuring out your center and your place in the world is something you should definitely do… on your downtime AFTER a day of shipping product.
Pop psychology is for the folks who are not going to do anything anyway. Most of the time the only question that really matters when you find you “don’t wanna”, is, “ok, then what the f’ do you wanna do?”