Monday, February 2, 2015

Watching Your Startup Team Making Superbowl Seahawks like Play(s)
Monday, February 02, 2015

Watching Your Startup Team Making Superbowl Seahawks like Play(s)

Mentorship is a tricky thing. It's like being a coach of a youth soccer league (which I am in Taipei. Fortunate to be working with a great group of dads and some moms) where you watch your kids get scored on. They hang their heads, they point fingers at each other, and all you can do is pick them up, brush them off, tell them to shake it off and go out there and compete.

Fortunately, the league that I'm honored to be a part of believes in the Positive Coaching Alliance ("PCA") approach to games, sportsmanship and ultimately to life. Great course to take for any of you mentors and coaches out there. Talks a lot about how to give positive encouragement to your players, "sandwich it" with a critique and so forth. How to teach players to shake it off (a mistake) and respect the game. They even have lessons from such great coaches as Phil Jackson.

Back to this past Sunday's Superbowl, watching the Hawks call that pass play on 2nd down and 1 yard to go, for the win. Wow! Stunned into silence (I think Coach Carroll's reaction was my reaction to the events that unfolded on the field). I know that the internet has exploded on this subject and my FB feed is filled with commentary as to "worst play in superbowl history" or some form of "hey, it was a good play, don't take away from the defender who made the interception."

All reminds me of what happens to "my guys" as these startup teams I coach/mentor go out there and face the realities of starting a new venture, of being entrepreneurial. There are no guarantees. I can give the best advice, but sometimes, its not followed. Worse, it's not understood. Sometimes, the team works hard, but there are no fruits of their labor. They toil for years in obscurity. Sometimes, circumstances don't fall their way and they get "intercepted."

I never profess to have all of the answers.

Instead, I help them focus on the journey. The fact that they're working with good friends and sometimes with family is some of the satisfaction. That they're trying to make a difference is plus. I see the bravery of them "jumping off the cliff" hoping for a good landing each day. As a mentor, I only can help them think through their plan as it relates to their "North Star." Find their way. Explain to them what it was like when I crossed a similar river, where to feel for the stones in the river bed (obstacles) and what areas to be careful of.

Ultimately, success and failure rests on the team themselves. It's hard not to want to protect them from the agony of defeat. I know that often times telling them that they are doing their best and that's all you can ask for. . . seems hollow, especially when its not just your adult startup teams, but your fifth/fourth grader soccer players and they've lost yet another game.

But truly, shake it off, pick yourself up, find another way, and keep living the dream. In our society, that puts so much on success and failure, winning and losing, we forget sometimes that just showing up everyday, is what its all about. Add Oil!