Most of the valuable work done in a startup is highly creative. Whether it is programming, design, communication, strategy, marketing, sales, fundraising, it is all mostly creative. The few non-creative activities can almost always be eliminated, automated or outsourced.
At the same time, there’s the need to achieve: the company needs to launch a product, attract clients, put processes in place, become profitable, scale up, navigate unpredictable challenges, etc. If a certain degree of achievement is not attained, the company disintegrates. Some of this need for achievement is merely fear; but some of it is real.
We value creation over achievement. It took us a long time to figure this out. In the startup world, Stakhanov is overrated. We feel that our best work emerges from a state of flow. This state of flow goes beyond goals. It is in essence unconcerned with gain or loss. A purely achievement-oriented mindset is corrosive to our best work for three reasons:
Yet, there must be structure and there must be direction. Effort and achievement have their place. We feel they support creation in two ways:
Our goal is to put out our best work and make it useful to others. Deadlines and expectations fade away to the background when you feel you’re building a cathedral.