Hello! I am Micael Widell, based in Stockholm. I am CTO and co-founder of Fyndiq, Swedish one stop bargain shop on the web. This blog is mainly about entrepreneurship and my life in general.
Today I read the short and free e-book The Flinch by Julien Smith, which I stumbled upon a couple of weeks ago.
The book describes a very important concept when it comes to self improvement. I would say that making a habit out of going against the flinch is one of the deepest and most important habit changes you can make.
So what is the flinch? To me it is that little threshold of resistance that you feel right before you are to do something that you know that you should do, but don't feel comfortable doing. That bump of resistance you feel when you are about to go outside your comfort zone.
It could be going out for a run. The flinch tells you to stay inside and maybe plan to go for a run tomorrow instead. It could be quitting your job to fulfill you dream to start a business. Many people have this dream but they let themselves be stopped by the flinch. It could be striking up a conversation with a stranger on a five hour bus ride – you know that the ride will be very boring if you don't, but the flinch holds you back. It could be saying yes to holding a speech in front of a group of people, even though you know you will be very nervous.
I have fought the flinch for several years. In the beginning it was not very often I would win. But after years of gradual habit change I can now frequently use it to my advantage the way the book suggests. As soon as I feel the flinch I use that energy inside me to go against it. Developing this habit – to feel encouragement and excitement about going slightly outside my comfort zone every day has changed my life so incredibly much, and I am very thankful for that. Just knowing that "this is just the flinch, I will feel fantastic when I walk right through it" makes it so much easier.
This is still something I need to continue working on. Today I win over the flinch in maybe 60% of the cases. I want to get nearer 100%. But I am very happy that I have not only learned about its importance myself, I have now also found a good text on it by somebody else who discovered it.
What is your meaning of life? Do you have one?
Mine is to kill all the magic and mystery. I want to lie on my deathbed totally bored with everything that exists in this world. I want to have tried everything that ever intrigued me. I want to have read all the books I wanted to read. I want to have gotten to know all kinds of people who are a mystery to me today. I want to have experienced enough to have killed all the curiosity that was ever in me.
When you are a kid, many things in this world consist of magic and mysteries. When I was a kid, the most magical things out there were computers. Over the years I killed that magic by learning everything about them. From the circuit board to the software that runs on the operating system. Today there is nothing magical or intriguing with computers to me.
Another magical thing that intrigued me in my early twenties was this society we live in. This society with power structures, political games, money, advertising, products, consumerism, law, psychology, behaviours. I have been trying to understand all these mysteries by being involved in them as much as possible. I have already killed quite a lot of the magic in this realm by starting to understand aspects of it. Some magic is still left.
When I visit new places in the world that seem magical to me, the magic gradually disappears as I get accustomed to the place, the people, the smells and the sights. Some places I need to be in for a long time before the magic starts to disappear. Some places which I have been in several times are still magical to me. I need to go back.
I still have a lot of magical things to destroy, but an important insight for me is that that is my goal in life! What is yours?
I often think about how I have changed as a person from going through the adventure of quitting my job, starting a company, and then growing it to 50 employees. One of the most profound and unexpected things that have changed in me is my attitude towards knowledge and reading.
Before starting Fyndiq, I was a very knowledge oriented person. I read lots of books, I hung out on Hacker News every day, I read articles about how to do this and that when starting a startup. I thought all this reading was important to succeed as an entrepreneur, and also I was extremely fascinated by the startup world. I still read from time to time, but the greatest change in me is the realization that book based knowledge is not that important for starting or growing a company.
The knowledge you need to have for your startup to succeed is in general not written in books or articles. The knowledge you need will be so specific to your particular company, with your particular employees, in your particular industry, in this particular time, with your particular product, with your particular goal and vision – that you need to generate that knowledge yourself by trying stuff out and iterating.
I don't regret reading all these books and Paul Graham essays etc. They were useful because they are inspiring and because they contain important reference points. I think it might be good to start your entrepreneurial journey by reading a lot, to get a grip on what general mindset and attitude you need to have to succeed as an entrepreneur. Also, having read a lot of other startup stories, you gather reference points of milestones that they have reached that you will also reach. These milestones will be important for reassuring you that you are on the right track. It is an awesome feeling every time you experience something that you remember some role model founder of yours has written about as an important milestone!
So nowadays I don't read books and articles about entrepreneurship because I think I need the knowledge to succeed, but merely for inspiration or because I sometimes feel curious about some company or person.
Do you have a friend who you meet from time to time, and when you meet him, he always has some new project or startup idea that he is working on? I have more than one friend like that.
They always have lots of new ideas, which is great! But they have been getting new ideas now for many years, and not come very far with any of them. And somehow they are always totally unaware of this flaw in themselves. And somehow they do not see that if they continue like this; they will go through their whole life without any "finished" projects.
I was like that. I used to think that the idea is the most important aspect of a startup. And once you find the right idea you only work on it a week or two, and then you get lots and lots of users and become super successful.
So I always spent my days thinking of new startup ideas, and I began building a lot of projects. But then as soon as it got a little hard, my brain tended to think "it didn't work, I didn't get any users - the idea was not good enough". And then hours later I got excited about the next thing.
This does not apply only to startup ideas. Not sticking to an idea, habit or a project for long enough seems to be a trait that many people suffer from. Do you know anyone who has always been trying to lose weight? And who is always trying a new diet? The tabloids fan this fire by writing about new diets or methods every week.
In the end I got so sick of myself when I noticed this, so I decided that once I get going with my next startup I am going to stick to it. I am going to fight hard and well through the early stages. I am going to spend months and years making it a success. Because that's the thing - as soon as it gets hard you will just have to fight through it instead of going for another startup idea.
Sticking to a long term project is one of the most powerful actions out there. It will separate you from a lot of people who do not have this ability. This ability, or perspective on life if you will, can be applied to everything from investment strategies to fitness habits and startups.
PS. Credit to the tweet below for inspiring this blog post.
"If you're tired of starting over, stop giving up." #quote— Joy Olsson (@joyolsson) July 11, 2013