A blank page is a prison and the ultimate freedom. When the paper is blank there are no constraints. Anything can happen and a masterpiece feels (tantalizingly) within reach. Yet making the first line is the most important line because without making a line, your drawing goes nowhere. But you have to act because if you don’t make a line there’s no drawing.
You hold your breath and put pencil to paper. And then immediately feel the feedback of a great beginning or one that isn’t so great. And then the creation gets easier. It becomes possible to make more lines in the company of the ones you put there first. And refining the existing lines get easier because you can define them in relation to other lines on the paper.
But all is not perfect. Because when you erase the lines or refashion them you can see the echoes of what went before. The drawing gets an inevitable style and it starts to feel like it has your signature. It might be your best work yet. Or maybe not – because you can’t look back at your progress and see it yet.
Working on a startup is like making that first drawing on an that empty page. Some days it feels effortless to draw a new thing into being and on other days it’s the hardest thing in the world to spend the time drawing on your business canvas the way you know you should. Yet you keep going. On the best days, the feeling is incredible.
The solution to balancing out more of the ups and downs of of startup life? Practicing simple, mindful things that make a difference is never a bad way to start a day. What were the most important lines that I drew yesterday that I need to connect to others today? What shapes are not on my canvas yet that need to be there? Who should I ask for feedback to know if the drawing I’m making is similar to the one that they are expecting.
Drawing and business are not dissimilar – they both draw from a creative resource that’s not there every day. But creativity is not a zero sum game. Place creative people in the same room and suddenly there is geometric or exponential growth, creating amazing things out of raw materials. And sharing those drawings with a small and ever-widening circle of people is a frightening, intense, incredible experience that forces you to accept the drawing for what it is: a drawing. And then you can go back to the canvas and try again to make the same drawing a little better by incorporating what you learned yesterday.