Velocity & Excellence
A matching dilemma
I say about founders that three paradoxical tensions are shaping them up.
Optimism with Clarity of vision : Most entrepreneurs couldn’t keep up if they weren’t optimist. But the issue with optimism is that it’s also a reality distortion filter. Clarity of vision is what allows you not to get get delusional, to know where you are heading towards.
Learning with Singularity : For every single decision or action you take, there is so-called best practices out there from brilliant people. And you should learn from them, in person, through books… But your ability to take singular decision, to learn by doing, to take a new, controversial path is also what will be make you unique and potentially successful.
Velocity with Excellence : This is the trickiest one I find because those traits are opposed more than complementary. You can’t run a marathon in sprint, you will burn out in a snap. You can’t run a sprint at the pace of a marathon, you will finish last.
So do you want to finish last or burn ? Neither of course. But you should be able to balance, to choose, to measure, to tell whether you’re going too fast or crafting too well, going too slow or crafting too poorly. And what for…
I wanted to write about it as I am personally reflecting on the balance of those two traits in my life at the moment…
A pile of papers in the car, some tools randomly thrown in a box, a spray against mosquito on the night table in December, a pair of biking shoes by my office desk… I am messy. I’ve always been.
I want things to go fast. I like the sense of urgency, efficiency. And it’s not about taking shortcuts, it’s about gathering all the information as fast as possible, synthesise it quickly and act upon it right away, get all the things that can be done, done, now. I’m like that.
The downside is that I always leave a bunch of things or details behind.
When I write for instance, I don’t like to get back to it, I go on a streak where I start a post and don’t do anything else until I am done writing it. That’s what happened with my book: Human Machine. It was fully written, in english, during 5 weeks in a row and then it took me more than a year to get it done, properly, in French, because I was too lazy and didn’t want to get back to it… I even gave up on revising its english version. So at the end, the result is ok, but it’s not great. I could have put more energy into it, but also a lot more excellence.
I was amazed for instance by both the attention and the commitment that Tony put into Build, just like in everything he seems to be doing, he is pushing very hard towards the boundaries of both velocity and excellence. I doubt most human beings can follow that pace, but it shows that it’s possible to combine the two.
I think there is also this will to win that pushes me to keep moving as fast as I can, because the winner of the competition is the one who crosses the line first, most of the time. But you can’t win a marathon if you start sprinting, you can’t be the best chef by rushing into every single action, you can’t deliver the right product by taking too many shortcuts but you can’t beat competition or reach users expectations by delivering too slowly.
You should always thrive to push the boundaries of both velocity and excellence. You can work more hours, refine your moves, train yourself to gain velocity while reaching excellence. It’s about building the right habits and also by being intentional on reaching the right balance between velocity and excellence.
This is what I am currently trying to do, to keep my fast mover instinct while trying to gain in patience, precision, tidiness. I don’t do it alone, and you shouldn’t neither, ask you closed ones in life and business to make you accountable, you can also use coaching, it’s the system of record through which i reflect on my progress continuously.
Velocity and Excellence match very rarely. Don't be just fast. But don’t hide your delay neither behind your attention to details or need for absolute precision.
There is never a good excuse to be slow nor sloppy.