“Fundraising is going really well”, he said as we caught up a few weeks ago. “VCs seem really interested. Lots of follow up meetings. We’re on 3rd and 4th meetings with some”. “Have you pitched the whole partnership yet?” I asked. “No”, he says. “Then the fundraising isn’t going well”…
There are so many pieces in the mosaic that makes an entrepreneur and a healthy reality distortion field is one of them. Where the average person hears no, we hear maybe and maybe is really, basically, just a lowercase yes.
But, there’s a fine line between a healthy distortion of reality and telling ourselves lies.
A lie is telling ourselves fundraising is going well, when we haven’t been introduced to the broader VC partnership. A lie is telling ourselves that a conflict has been resolved with an employee when they continue to act out. A lie is telling ourselves that people love our product when the numbers are telling us otherwise.
The problem with these lies is they rob of us of an opportunity for learning. For growing. For becoming the kind of entrepreneurs who can raise money, who can build a high performing team and who can ship a product that people love.
And eventually, the more we believe these lies, they rob us of the respect and trust of others.
The key to a healthy reality distortion field is that it actually sees reality for what it is. It sees real obstacles but sees them as navigable. It sees real concerns but sees them as addressable, if not resolvable. And it sees success but sees the real effort it will take to achieve.
To stop with the lies, we need to stop telling and start asking. Less talking, more listening.
What are people really telling us with their words and their actions? Ask a VC why they haven’t introduced us to their partners or given us a termsheet. Ask the employee why they keep acting out. Ask customers why they aren’t willing to pay for our product. Then listen.
I know it sounds basic but that’s the point. It’s the basic human stuff that the success of our businesses hang on.
We can innovate around a lot of things but we can’t innovate our way into being a person someone trusts, respects and wants to work with. To do that requires the least innovative thing of all- to stop telling ourselves lies and tackle reality head on.