Like most kids on their family beach trips, I would make sand castles with my dad. Our method wasn’t the pre-molded design buckets other kids utilized.
Instead we would dig a small hole to capture some sea water. From this pit like setup, we would get some wet sand. With a hand full, we close our fingers together so we could drip it into piles. Handful after handful we would keep drip stacking the sloppy semi-solid from wide to narrow until we had a respectable tower.
Then we would start over on the next tower.
To this day I’m not sure why we did this, but it became our thing. Each subsequent trip, without hesitation, a pit was dug and towers drip stacked.
Leading a startup is a lot like drip stacking a sand castle. It’s your job to go from the wet sand pit of ambiguity to a tower of clarity.
New ideas and companies are messy and coarse. The fluid nature of business development is hard to organize and there isn’t always an obvious place to start. Honestly, it’s why most people choose the pre-designed bucket route of working for someone else.
The work is definitely dirty. It’s monotonous and not at all flashy. Just like gravity would drag down our towers, there will definitely be setbacks beyond your control.
But good leadership can overcome all of this. Establishing a simply understood process, finding encouragement through incremental wins, and pursuing a shared vision are excellent methods every startup leader should use to build clarity.
The next time you’re wondering why you’re not as effective as the successful leaders of other companies, it’s likely you don’t form in the wet sand.