The middle fucking sucks.
Vagueness sucks. Lack of drive sucks. Half-assing things sucks.
The middle is what everybody is doing. It’s what the market is doing right now. It’s when startups pitch me by saying: “We’re going to do something in the photo app space.” You mean like everybody has been doing for the past five years? It’s commodity work. It’s not influential and it’s not special. It’s safe. The middle is safe.
On any given day, I sit through four or more pitches. And the pitch I usually end up liking? The one where the guys are actually doing the work. They’re in the trenches. They’re not doing the big holistic thinking, the higher level branding; they’re just at a raw level, executing.
There aren’t that many people who work like that, who are hard practitioners. There also aren’t that many people who are looking far into the future. 2020 and 2030. Everyone is hanging in that middle space, the short term of their new app without even actually trying to build anything. They have pages of brainstorm notes but no actual product. They can’t talk about how it’s going to be built. They should be thinking years and years ahead, and actually doing work.
That is what I call the clouds and dirt.
Clouds: the future. Not the big picture, the huge picture. The philosophy of your life.
Dirt: the actual work. Getting your hands dirty. Building something and saying “I made that.”
There is no place for the middle in either of those things.
A lot of times people don’t have both clouds and dirt. They’re too stuck in the minutiae, they don’t see the bigger picture. They don’t know how to navigate. Or: they get it philosophically but they don’t have the skills or the appetite or the want to actually be able to do it right.
You need to find a way to have both, and stay away from the middle.
Because if you’re not trying to break things, you’re not doing a good job.
All the best apps, companies, products have broken the way we live life. Changed our day to day. Interrupted how we communicate and changed it. Good products have evolved us.
You’re surrounded by the middle for 99.9% of your life. Most things are unremarkable. I want you to get into the clouds, the dirt, both, and figure out what you can make that changes the game.
Thanks for reading! Still want more? I made a video all about this. And if you know someone stuck in the middle, pass this article to them. It might give them the push they need. ☺