Five years on from giving it five

David Ryan
Mar 13, 2017 · 4 min read

Why is it that ancient wisdom is as applicable today as the day it was chiseled into stone?

In this case, Jason Fried’s “Give it five minutes” post from 2012 came to my mind over the weekend. I was thinking about some of the wonderful people in my life and the various journeys that they are on — and I was struck with a strange sense of patience.

I doubt many people who’ve worked with me in my earlier tech or corporate career would choose “patient” as the first adjective. Certainly the bulk of my adventures in my early twenties was driven by the opposite. Impatience is probably the source of most innovation and a powerful force for (smaller scale) project management after all.

But the career path of a startup founder is almost inescapably tied to the conscious development of impatience and raw force of will into more nuanced craft and personal development. This isn’t limited to startups or founders alone — it’s just the lens that we can share as a community in this space — and it’s certainly one that has commonality across other industries and culture.

Speaking of commonality and getting back to Jason Fried’s post, I smiled to re-read this in 2017. I urge you to take the time to read the post and make “Give it five minutes” if not a part of your better behaviours, than something to practice for a week. Because there’s something that happens after you learn to give it five…

After five comes six, and then seven, and…

The lesson that Jason and I have both experienced is that this patience pays off in not only our own lives, but the lives of others. We all aspire to work on meaningful things and we’re all on our own wiggly journeys after all.

As Jason writes, “The right idea could start out life as the wrong idea.”

I’ve certainly seen this in the startup ecosystem. Here’s one fun example.

During my time as Red Hat’s startup advocate I was invited to participate in a Pollenizer boot camp. The format was a day-long lean startup workshop, which focused on validated learning and a very Steve Blank style of “get out of the building”.

We all had to pitch an idea. One of the other attendees was a young software engineer who got up to talk about, well, honestly I forget. I do remember that it was one of what I call the “proximity shortlist” of common startup ideas — things to do with ordering drinks at bars, finding parking, splitting the bill at dinner.

These are the non-problems that aspiring founders grab from within reach of their daily lives and are neither particularly bad nor particular interesting but great to “act out” and learn a methodology. So I admit I didn’t pay particular attention as it was a particularly full-on day with my own particular idea.

Now a few years on, that young engineer is not only the CTO of a promising company that’s a part of the RCL Startup Accelerator, but has had a pedigree run through programs like Startup Catalyst. He’s also had a bit of a rollercoaster experience (as most founders do) and I’ve enjoyed our more authentic conversations about those hardships in recent times.

It occurs to me in those moments that what I didn’t pay attention to wasn’t the idea, but actually the human exploring it. Thinking about Jason’s article differently, it seems to me that it’s not just the ideas that need five minutes — it’s the people.

Give each other five (and six, and seven…)

Looping back to my own musings, I realised in my own journey that some of the best personal development I’ve had the chance to explore is in “giving five” to those around me. The applies equally to loved ones as it does the new faces in the community.

To help anchor this point, imagine where you were in 2012 when Jason wrote his original post? It’s a safe bet that you’ve had quite the journey since then.

People come a long way in five years. Or five months. Or five weeks. The best things take time and often space to develop whatever way they have to. Give them the time that they need but also be patiently present. From the young engineer now exploring life as a CTO to any number of examples I can think of in my personal life of amazing people tackling the hard task of their own self development.

So if I can dare add any additional ideas to Jason’s excellent post from the ye olde days of 2012, it’s that we not only “give five” to ideas, but to each other.

And the reasoning for finding the patience and care to give each other this gift is pretty much exactly as he ended his post prior.

“Think about it a little bit before pushing back, before saying it’s too hard or it’s too much work. Those things may be true, but there may be another truth in there too: It may be worth it.”

Wait a little. It’s worth it.

Thanks for reading. I’ve set myself a personal challenge of writing and publishing daily for the month of March. Partly as an exercise in lean writing and partly to explore the impact of contributing these quick and raw narratives. This was day 13’s post — what did you think?

Insights from within the global startup community.

David Ryan

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