A friendly reminder:
The problem isn’t you. The problem is the problem. –Steven Pressfield
Some stuff is just hard.
We start thinking we messed up. That it’s an issue with us. But it’s not. The work is hard and the problem is hard. You need to solve the problem, not fix yourself.
The quote above is from Steven Pressfield’s incredible Do the Work. The audiobook (that’s a store link) is about 90 minutes long, so it fits in a single dreary London commute and costs less than lunch.
My problem as of late
My previous businesses have been “proper” tech startups. I’m know one or two specific verticals and business models well enough for them to act as anchors for my mental model of the startup world.
Without making an explicit decision to do so, I found myself spending all my time doing stuff like writing this blog (which I love) and working on lots of projects rather than a single company.
I had no idea how to describe what I was doing, where it was leading, or how to go about getting there.
And I thought the problem was me. That I didn’t have the vision and wherewithal to see the goal. And worse still, I wasn’t able to decide what to do first because I had no way of knowing whether it was useful long-term.
I was a touch stressed.
Moving the problem outside
But then, remember:
The problem isn’t you. The problem is the problem.
My problem was that I had no idea how a gig-based business works (as opposed to a tech startup). So over the past 2 weeks I’ve dug into the literature, taking notes on a dozen books, countless posts, and plenty of videos. I dissected the business models of the companies I admire in the space, and took a deep look at a few I want to actively avoid imitating (aka. antilogs).
Figuring out how to move forward in unknown terrain is an impossible sludge. You can’t do a thing without second guessing yourself because you don’t know which way is up. Of course I was feeling stuck.
On the other hand, doing a bit of good old fashioned book learning is super easy. It gave me a sense of the constraints and wiggle room for a new type of business.
Keep on keeping on
Now, I’m not saying you should drop everything and start reading. In fact, please don’t ;). Your momentum is precious!
Literature happened to be the solution to my most recent problem, but it may not be the solution to yours (or my next one).
If you’re feeling stuck because of something you can’t do, aren’t good enough to do, or don’t know how to do, then take a step back. The problem isn’t you. The problem is the problem.
Separate it from yourself, see what it looks like, and then do the entirely mundane work required to unknot it.