It’s rarely up and to the right

“Up and to the right”

It’s a common expression – especially in the world of startups. Startups tell themselves and their prospective investors that they predict big time growth (user adoption, revenue adoption etc). The chart ramps slowly and then pow, magic happens. All smooth, nice and neat.

And sometimes it does happen.

But usually it doesn’t.

Making progress is requires crazy hard work and focus. Some companies are engineering focused and that works for them. Others are more product focused and that works too. It depends on the culture. Just look at apple and google. two different approaches and two different cultures. Both are widely successful (keep in mind both companies have plenty of products that never worked out).

One thing that i’ve seen time and time again is it’s almost always a series of things that make “up and to the right” happen over time. It’s not one thing. It’s hiring the best people on the planet, making the product better, thinking about things in a new way while maintaining the vision, focus & determination. It’s dealing with setbacks productively and with intellectual honesty and self awareness.

The bumpy road to “up and to the right” also happens with our careers and life experiences. Often, we share one side of our lives on blogs or on our resume. The whole story is of course much more jagged (and by the way, much more interesting).

I caught up with someone I admire yesterday in San Francisco. This is someone that has accomplished so much and he also gives back to the community in extraordinary ways. He told me his life story. There were many dark dark moments in his life where he had debt coming out of his nose, he had been fired, he couldn’t get a job and was alone in a strange new community.

But he had his health, his will, talent and good fortune as well (met great people along the way). His life wasn’t  hardly a smooth “up and to the right”.

Mine hasn’t been that way either.

I recently received a question from someone that follows me on Twitter and this blog. She asked me how i can keep such a balanced family life, work life and relationship with my wife. I guess from my various tweets she sees me working hard, going out with lauren and hanging with my kids. But it’s never that simple. At any given moment I think I’m doing better at one of those things vs the other and it’s a constant balancing act. Sometimes I do pretty well and other times I do a complete faceplant.

But I get back up again when no ones looking :)

This post is starting to ramble. I took the red eye flight last night so you have to forgive me.

I’ll end this post by encouraging you to not get caught up with up and to right with everything and with each moment in your life. Because it’s rarely if ever a smooth up and to the right.

Enjoy the ride. And take time to figure it out.