I was asked the other day what it was like to start a company when you know that the odds of success are so stacked against you (I guess the questioner thought I had some good advice seeing as how we launch several businesses per year, the big one this year being RentalHomes.com). I answered as best I could in trying to paraphrase Seth Godin in Poke the Box, and said … “Well first you have to be willing to fail. And once you are willing to fail, you have to be willing to jump into the abyss.”
Some time last year, when the company was at one of those inflexion points, I played the video of Jeb Corliss jumping off the cliff in one of his flying wing suits for the team. Yes, sometimes that is what entrepreneurship feels like. A count down, then you sail into the abyss. Some moments of terror, some moments of exhileration, and some moments of floating peacefully after you have achieved something spectacular. If you haven’t seen it, here is the video:
As I said, sometimes it is terrifying.
At Left of the Dot, we have several core values that are represented by imagery and are shared and revisited frequently. We walk every new hire through these core values, spending the largest part of our entire on-boarding process on this one set of images. Each image represents a value we hold true: from emphasizing the value of Community, to focussing on the routine and rhythm of doing the little things right. This slide and images have remained constant from day one… Well, until this week.
You see, we added a new core value this week. At Left of the Dot, failure is now an option (as illustrated by the Twitter community’s Fail Whale). In fact, we fail every day. Often. Sometimes half a dozen times by lunch. But without failure, we also can’t taste success. You have to start, you have to try new things, you have to be willing to jump into the abyss.