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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Getting To The Start

It's taken me a while, but I'm here. I'm back at the starting point.<...>

When I pressed pause on PublicBeta a couple of months ago (which now seems like a lifetime), I had absolutely no idea what the road beyond that decision held in store.

So - contrary to my nature - I made the decision to play it safe, give myself space and to properly recover from all of the things that had built up to that decision.

This took the form of a year-long sabbatical, where I thought that I'd properly do some gardening, learn a new language or musical instrument and create a few, new daily habits. These were the lofty goals with which I started 2014.

But a couple of weeks ago though, I started feeling differently. It felt I was interacting with an earlier - yet evolved - iteration of myself, where I could clearly distinguish between the good and the bad of the things that had helped shape me over the years.

I experienced clarity and a start of momentum, which - bit by bit - in the last couple of weeks had become more mature, more obvious and something tangible.

That something tangible is now the upcoming, reboot of PublicBeta. Renewed clarity, new momentum and new idea.

Getting to this (starting) point probably wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done, but there were a few (individual) realizations along the way that helped me to stumble onto this clarity and into this momentum.

I'd love to share that with you.


No Rules

Rules are made to be broken.

In my case, rules - especially the one's I had made - were designed to be excuses; really bad rules that made it easy for me not to take action.

One of them was committing to a year-long sabbatical. After making this decision (and then announcing it to the world), I thought that I was required to stick to it.

Wrong.

Instead, I allowed myself to break a rule when it became naturally apparent that it made sense to do so. Sticking to a decision or rule I had made within a certain context long after that context wasn't the reality anymore would've been a bad decision.

I just needed to give myself permission that it was okay to break that rule.

Learning Non-Attachment

Attachment (and the pursuit to eliminate it) is a central theme of Buddhism and in the last couple of weeks, I've been learning about letting go of things that would only influence me negatively if I stayed attached to them.

To explain this, I could possibly just quote this whole article. This bit however particularly sums up my mindset:

"We attach to feelings as if they define us, and ironically, not just positive ones. If you’ve wallowed in regret or disappointment for years, it can seem safe and even comforting to suffer."

"In trying to hold on to what’s familiar, we limit our ability to experience joy in the present. A moment can’t possibly radiate fully when you’re suffocating it in fear."

I've learnt that whilst my mistakes, successes and failures will always shape me, it doesn't define me and it's never a key metric when I need to measure myself or my life holistically.

Along with this, I'm slowly accepting the notion that everything is just a journey. It's not about yesterday or tomorrow, but about right now and what I can do today.

Removing Requirements

This was again something that I had imposed on myself; a set of requirements which would dictate how and when I would start (anything).

I also made this worse, by letting the Joneses have a significant influence on these requirements.

Last year when I was working on PublicBeta, I had imposed quite strict requirements and goals before actually starting up: it needed to be something significant, I needed to have revenue before I even started and it needed to be this uber-sexy startup that everyone expected of me.

What this did though, was it just created such a high barrier to entry to even get to a starting point. I was stuck in analysis paralysis and my perception was that unless I could hit all these requirements, whatever I did was super-risky.

A couple of weeks ago though, I realized that it was actually okay to work on something that was fun, didn't have a perfect revenue model (much less, pre-launch revenues) and might actually not be around in 6 months' time. This mindset was much more aligned with my mantra of making mistakes as a vehicle for continuous learning. This was an alternative place to start.

It also meant that there was no reason not to start.

Accepting Myself

This might sound like some pop psychology bullshit, but I gained some valuable insight about myself in the last couple of weeks.

After pressing pause on PublicBeta last year, I essentially removed a big part of my self-identity which specifically relates to being an entrepreneur, creating and working on something that I'm passionate and / or ambitious about. If you asked me to put myself in a box, that'd be the label.

Pressing pause on that self-identity meant that I was clutching at other labels: husband, dad, friend, runner, photographer or writer. What I learnt was that I could associate with all of these things for different reasons and they were all a significant part of my make-up. But even the sum of all these things couldn't compensate for the lack of being an entrepreneur, creating and being passionate or ambitious.

At least not in the long-term.

Initially I wanted to prove to myself that I could identify completely as all of these other things, instead of simply sticking to the comfort zone of "being an entrepreneur".

I've accepted though that I don't need to be okay with that and that there's nothing wrong with wanting to be an entrepreneur.

Naturally Present

The best part of my journey in the last couple of months is that I never had a plan in terms of getting to a starting point or to where I am today. It just happened.

I think that part of this is being flexible and accepting your intuition. If it feels right, then that's a great reason to actually trust yourself.

Yes, this journey was a culmination of many things (some of which I've listed above), but it wasn't my responsibility to piece the jigsaw together.

But with every decision, positive thought and realization, the pieces of the jigsaw moved in unison and one morning a couple of weeks ago this process had created clarity and kickstarted momentum.


For me, this is about starting. Not once or only after something has ended, but instead of starting something positive every day.

Some days that means tackling that massive project I've been procrastinating about and other days it'll simply mean getting out of bed with a smile on my face.

Right now it means I'm starting back up and I'm working on an idea I'm passionate about and that makes me ambitious about the potential possibilities in the future.

In a couple of weeks' time, this mindset will make me flick the go-live switch on PublicBeta once again.

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