Hope is not a strategy, but you gotta have faith
You have a business idea, listened to prospects, studied the competition, but at some point all the strategy stuff can take you only so far. At some point, you gotta step out. I’m not talking about hoping for the best. After you’ve done your homework, in the words of George Michaels,
“You gotta have faith, faith, faith.”
Faith unlocks the promises in your strategy, turns your dreams into reality, and allows you to hold on during tough times. Faith doesn’t eliminate delay or technical challenges. And, it’s not living in a fantasy world or denial. In a startup, bad things and unforeseen circumstance will happen. Software development, which often takes twice as long as you think, will slow you down. Oodles of regulatory red tape will bog you down. Naysayers and “the haters” will bring you down. And, a few folks will let you down. Faith simply allows you to pick yourself up and get through it.
“If you want to make it, you got to have resilience.”
Where do you get the resilience to make it to the finish line? Faith. If you’re looking with faith to where you’ll be, it’s easier not to get frustrated with where you’re at. Faith produces the three Ps: patience, persistence, and perspective (not to be confused with the four Ps).
With GradeHub being my first startup, running an early-stage company is a lot more about doing than planning. In the startup world, uncertainty is indubitable. When leading initiatives in corporate environments, it is like driving a car on a freeway. There’s a lot of congestion (e.g., office politics, bureaucracy, etc.), but the road is relatively straight, you can see miles out in front of you, and your car’s gas tank (i.e., CA$H) is on full.
In a startup, well it’s like driving a mountain road alone, but with every turn, you have no idea what’s on the other side of the corner, and that indicator light is flashing that you’ll need gas, very soon. Faith is believing in something you cannot see and provides you fuel to keep going.
In B-school, you’ll hear words like vision or mission. Yes, vision and mission, which I like to call purpose, are critical, but getting to the finish line requires something more.
Spending the last three months nearly ready to launch; refining, testing, and getting customer feedback on GradeHub, it has been trying, but I’ve been hopeful.
“And while they are right that hope is technically not a strategy, inspirational leaders understand one final thing: that without hope there is no strategy.”
Dov Seidman, LRN
I agree with Dov, hope has a place in strategy. And, faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.