The Process is the Point
A Look into What Drives You
How often are you asking yourself, “What is the end goal for what I’m doing?” And, how hard do you struggle to answer this question?
I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. And when I wrestle with something like this, I normally turn to friends. So I’ve asked, “What is the end goal for what you’re doing” to about 10 close friends recently, and all of them struggled with giving a good answer. Most people dodge a response, say something about working to get enough money to retire well, or have some goal for their company’s “success.” No one has given a tangible smart goal for what they’re marching toward.
I also ask this question to almost every potential founder we’re about to invest in — and I usually get the same response: “We’re going to run our company just like we are today. We’re going to build something that’s meaningful and changes our industry.” This answer is fine, but I had been looking for answers about end goals like,”When I can get a $100M exit,” or “We’re a $1B in valuation company,” or “We now have $20M MRR.”
As you can tell, I haven’t liked these responses. Something had seemed way off for me with both how my friends and these startups were answering the question.
Lately, though, some interesting things have happened. Last month, I asked of one of my closest friends. I actually posed the question to him a few years ago, and back then he responded that his end goal was having $10M in assets. It was frankly the clearest answer anyone had ever given me. Ever. But when I asked him the same question this past week, he said responded differently.
This time, he told me he’s just happy being CEO of his company, and as long as he has enough money to do fun stuff with his family, he’s going to be happy the rest of his life.
I was craving an updated number. A new, bigger stat. A revised way of thinking about his end game. But he just made it seem like he’s happy doing what he’s doing and would continue to be content if it all ended for him today.
I hated his answer.
A few days later, and without knowing that this conversation took place, Brandi Stanley (who just joined our team to lead our branding and communication) sent me a podcast from a guy named Rob Bell. The topic was on ambition and how — for most of the world — it’s the driving force in people’s lives. Ambition is good. It’s necessary. It motivates us to solve big problems. But when it completely takes over, we’re working, but we have no idea what we’re working for. We’re just driven for the sake of being driven. We can’t define our end goal for what we’re doing.
This is me.
I’d been craving a number. A stat. A way of thinking about my end game.
Needless to say, I’m the one who has been thinking about the end goal completely wrong.
Because it’s not really at all about the end goal is it?
A Shift in Perspective
Where Rob Bell and my CEO buddy both made a solid point is that the end goal is not the goal. Rather, if we’re doing what we set out to do and are doing today, we’ve already reached our goal. I loved something Rob said, which was, “I actually get to do a podcast that people listen to. How amazing is that?”
And fortunately, I’ve come to a similar place lately. Every day I get to wake up and help people like you run your accelerator better and provide ways for startups get the human and financial capital they need to build businesses and make a meaningful impact, wherever they call home.
“How amazing is that?”
There doesn’t need to be an end goal because we’re already doing what we want to be doing.
It’s a great end goal.
Originally published at www.gan.co on November 3, 2017.