Breakthroughs do Occur

For this inaugural blog entry it is particularly suitable that I evoke the topic of persistence in business. This is an important theme of the book and the first chapter bears that same title: “Breakthroughs do Occur”.  I have had that experience, not just one time, but on several occasions, that just as I was about to give up on one endeavor, a real breaktrough occurred.

One time was early on during my studies in preparatory school as I was at some point ranked last in a class of 48 students in the subject of physics. At that time in France we were being ranked numerically in class from first to last and there was full transparency on who was better at a topic and who was not so good. And I was the worst in my class. It was written down and exposed for all of my classmates to see. While it is a painful experience I am wondering if some level of pain is sometimes necessary to make progress. One recent book I have started, but not finished, reading seems to embrace, as least for part of it, that theory, as its subtitle evokes “the surprising link between suffering and success”.  I came back home in defeat during the winter break, and was seriously contemplating the idea of quitting. When the break was over, I nonetheless went to the motions of going back to school and surprise, a breakthrough did occur.

Another time this occurred was when I started my company. I did file the papers, coincidentally, at a time of deep crisis in my family and professional career. Starting the business was the breakthrough.

And I fully expect that similar kinds of breakthroughs will occur again in the future as I least expect them.

It can be tough to be an entrepreneur. For a while, at least until you experience “traction” which we will discuss soon in an upcoming blog entry, you’re doggedly pursuing an idea that perhaps no-one else truly believes in. Others may offer words of support, but possibly still think for themselves that the product or service you are building is something they are absolutely not interested in, though they might hope for you others can or will be. Essentially this makes you an excentric of sorts, not very different from other excentric folks who may dress strangely, pursue some obsession or other, and may even push a shopping cart with strange belongings inside. I’m exaggerating but essentially you’re not in the mainstream path.  Appearing excentric can be painful, and you must learn to either embrace it or ignore the perception of others. One reason this is hard is that we are all deeply longing for some type of approval and validation.

Persisting requires some deep confidence that if some time back you decided to spend a good amount of energy, effort, and time, on one project, or on one skill to learn, it was because it made tremendous sense to you at some point (yes?), and if it seems to make no sense at present, perhaps it is a question of waiting and letting things settle until they clear up.