Every creative and entrepreneurial venture starts with an idea. If you’re honest, the idea is almost always more of a question. Or many questions.
In order to take action, you’ve got to make guesses about the answers. We call those assumptions.
Some of your assumptions will be spot on, others will be wildly off.
The most important thing you can do in the early days is not try to succeed as fast as possible, but try to answer the most important questions as fast as possible. To replace assumptions with data. The faster you can make that transition and start to build around data over delusion, the better off you’ll be. And the more likely your success becomes.
But here’s the funny thing about data.
Some of it is hard, meaning it’s quantifiable. You can plug it into a spreadsheet.
But some of it is soft, really soft. No way to plug stomach spins or intuitive hits into Excel. And because we like to be able to point to “why” we make decisions, especially decisions we might be judged for making down the road, we often ignore those soft data points. Because they don’t provide good cover.
Don’t. Do. This.
One. Hard-data lies. It’s always old, incomplete or fake.
The reason the S.E.C requires every statement about a company’s future to include some variation of “past performance does not imply future results” is because it’s true. It doesn’t. People change, times change, circumstances change. The container of variables that made past outcomes possible will never be the same.
Which is why…
Smart investors don’t bet on past performANCE, they bet on past performERS.
They know much of what’s in the business plan is dead wrong. So wrong, in fact, that the vast majority of the world’s most successful companies over the last 25 years have had to entirely “pivot” models, products and markets in order to avoid crashing and burning. Smart investors don’t bet on hard data, they bet on the belief that the right team will be able to replace assumptions with data before they all run out of money. And even then, more often than not, they don’t.
So, very often…
Spreadsheets are the primal brain’s attempt to create a pre-emptive rationale for failure.
“Dude, the numbers were good, I did what I did based on them. Who knows why it bombed?”
Except that YOU knew.
Which brings us to reason two…
Deep down, there will always be a million little data points that don’t fit into a tool or app or chart or spreadsheet. Feelings, intuitive hits you get that say, “something ain’t right,” or “fix this” or “that person is full of it” or “hell yes.” Your brain processes millions of bits of information all day, on a level you’re not aware of. That data and the visceral intuitive reports your body and mind give you are every bit as valuable and valid as the supposed hard-data.
Because it’s about nuance, subtext, authenticity, the deeper truths. Those moments that lead us to cry “the signals were right in front me” after everything blows up, or watch someone else do the thing you seek to do first, because they were willing to own their intuitive data that, once acted upon, made an opportunity “obvious” to all.
So, here’s my invitation.
Stop ignoring soft data. It’s no less valid than the supposed hard-data. Reconnect with your intuition. Allow yourself to feel it again. Even if you’re not quite sure what to do with it yet. Feel it.
Intuition is data.
Just because you can’t easily quantify it, doesn’t mean you should toss it. Many of the greatest works of art, achievements, ventures and adventures have arrived on the ether of intuition. Often in opposition to “the numbers.”
I’m not advocating for abandoning hard data. Just elevating and integrating soft data.
Which leaves me with a question…
What’s your gut, your heart, your non-linear data-center telling you about that thing on your plate right now?
The one you’re aching to start or create or grow or join? The one that’s keeping you up at night?
Can you even feel it any more?
If not, find a way to create enough stillness to reconnect with it. For me, mindfulness is the way in. It helps cultivate enough stillness for intuition to bubble through the surface.
For you, it may be movement or writing or nature or whatever else works. Find your unlock and reconnection key.
And once you do, once you start to feel that deeper data set emerge, then the question becomes…
What will you do about it?
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