One of the things that I find most inspiring about you is how many new ideas you have. Every few months you seem to have birthed a new concept that appeals to me like a “must have” product or feels like a revolutionary evolution to an existing concept.
I watch as you convert this creativity into action by validating your idea which in turn seems to drive you with a perpetual source of rocket fuel that propels the launch of your project at lightning speed. I am blown away by how quickly you give birth to a working prototype which already provides so much value.
I can’t help but feel my excitement build as I see your output increase while you invest more time and energy into the project and our regular discussions become more and more project focussed. I start to feel like an unofficial team member as we discuss features, target audiences, design and everything between. I feel inspired, valued and honoured to be a small part of helping to create something valuable.
As your MVP nears completion, I can’t help but become excited on your behalf. I wonder what acclaim your product will receive. I start to fantasize about the success you could have and the dizzying heights your project could reach. Although the product is not my own, I am invested. I am full of belief and hope.
Unfortunately, the closer your product gets to the MVP that you planned and shared with me earlier in the process, the less focussed you become. I notice that you find more and more reasons to delay launch. You need to rebuild a feature that already works, or add some more functionality to the MVP to justify the cost. The more you do this, the less enthusiastic you become and your progress begins to noticeably slow.
Weeks and sometimes months pass by and this great project that is almost ready for launch, is sat, waiting, untouched and full of unrealised potential.
When I check in with you again you’ve plucked a number of reasons from the air to justify why your project can’t yet be launched:
- The market has changed
- A competitor beat you to launch
- You just “lost interest” in the project
- You’re too busy with other work
- You’re burnt out
After enough time has passed for you to have created enough of these justifications, you’ve thrown a bucket of cold water over your own fire so that your passion and belief for the project has been doused like an old campfire.
A little while later you come to me with this amazing new idea you’ve had, you’re excited again but I can’t help but feel disappointed. Your new idea does sound interesting but we’ve been here before. I struggle to find the energy to be excited for yet another project that I know will never see the light of day.
And this my friend, is why I’m writing this letter to you now. I need to tell you that your ego is holding you prisoner. While you continue to let it control your actions you will forever be limited by it and your goals will remain unreachable.
We both know the above reasons, or any other justification you can muster to stop working on the project at this point are just excuses to prevent the inevitable launch of a project that is almost ready. To let it live or die based on its own merits and to finally discover if what you believed all this time is true. To be judged by your peers and your potential audience or customers.
If you don’t finish the project, it didn’t really fail. Nobody rejected you and your ego doesn’t take a hit. You don’t need to ask yourself if your work was good enough, if your product validation needs improving, if your UX is confusing and as a result you’re never going to grow beyond your current abilities. Your next project will have the same limitations, the same weaknesses and you will forever be stuck in a perpetual cycle of failure, doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
An ego-free launch will unlock your potential
It is inevitable that when you do eventually launch, rejections will come. The key to handling rejection is not to let your ego take it personally. Once you learn to remove ego from the equation, rejection is an opportunity to learn and improve.
Whether you take this message onboard for your future projects or use it to muster the strength to revisit your most recent abandoned project and drag it over the finish line, do not let your ego limit your potential any longer!
No more rebuilding features or expanding the MVP. Stick to your plan and let the feedback from launch guide your next steps instead of letting fear of failure prevent you from walking at all.
Finally you will have a finished product instead of another side-project annoyingly pinned onto your mind’s chalkboard list of failures. Now that you have clawed your way up and over the high walls surrounding your ego prison, you are free to learn and grow in ways that were previously not possible.
Whether your project will ultimately be a success or a failure, everything you do moving forward will benefit from the growth you achieve as a result of launching it. You will stop walking in circles and start marching forward towards your goals.
Over time, this change will lead to a large portfolio of products, a bigger skill-set and a deeper source of knowledge instead of a long list of stagnating side-projects you carry with you, holding you back. Your ego will no longer be your enemy.
This letter was written after reading the brilliant “Ego Is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday and seeing this pattern occur so many times in projects for so many entrepreneurs, developers and friends of mine as well as in many of my own projects. This letter in itself is evidence of me trying to remove myself from own own ego prison and share my learnings and growth with those who care to read it.