If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough

This is a multi-part series sharing the lessons I’ve learned on my entrepreneurial journey thus far. Here is the fourth lesson. Read the intro, first, second, and third lessons, if you haven’t already done so.

The title of this post is a quote attributed to legendary racing driver, Mario Andretti. In business and in life, the incessant pressure to have everything under control, does more damage than good.

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If you really do have everything under control, you’re not pushing hard enough. And you’re likely not living your best life.

Formula 1 cars are notoriously unreliable, which is why they succeed

F1 cars are unreliable because almost every single component is pushed to the edge. At any point in time, that edge can cause the car to break down. It could be a rubber seal, a malfunctioning sensor, or a programming error that isn’t even mechanical. Anything.

But this is a necessary way of operating an F1 car in order to push the performance to the limits required. To give themselves the best chance of winning.

These cars are the world-standard in automotive performance engineering and speed, yet are never 100% under control. They operate consistently on the limits of failure. And that is why, they succeed.

I’ve “got this”

In the professional world, we train ourselves over time to show others that we’ve “got this”, even when we don’t. Because perception is more important than performance in most business environments.

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But if we worry about the need to always be 100% in control, we don’t take smart risks. We wait too long. We don’t move forward. We don’t search for the edges of possibility. We don’t innovate. We don’t ask “what if”. We limit our natural curiosity and creativity.

We must focus instead, on getting things done. It’s better to “got some of this,” and acknowledge the need to work everything else out as we sprint forward.

Comfortably-uncomfortable

In a startup, there is rarely enough of anything. We always need more cash. We always need more team members. We always need more customers. We always need more awareness. We always need more time. We always need more breathing room. We always need more, everything, really. It’s a highly stressful environment.

If we waited until we were 100% in control of something before tackling it, we would slow to a crawl and lose our competitive advantage: our ability to be creative, agile, and great at solving problems quickly.

Therefore, it’s critically important to acknowledge what you “don’t got”, and figure out how to address it as you go, instead of using them as excuses to “wait until you’re ready”.

Your best skill: getting S*&% done by figuring S*&% out

Above all else, the quality we should value most in anyone is their ability to figure things out, and as a result, get things done.

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I don’t ever expect anyone to have 100% of the qualities I need in a person to get the outcome required. I do however, expect them to be smart and resourceful enough, to do the work required to get there.

To go fast, and to get S*&% done, you need to be resourceful. You need persistence. You need to hustle. You need to be able to roll your sleeves up. And you have to be fearless about it.

Read on for the next lesson.

Ian Yip is the CEO of Avertro, which brings science to cyber story-telling by providing a simple, yet sophisticated executive and board cyber platform that helps organisations tell a compelling story, right-size their cyber program, and understand their cyber-why.

Written by

Cyber Risk. Cybersecurity. Business. Tech. Entrepreneur. CEO at Avertro. Former CTO at McAfee Asia Pacific.

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