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Adii Pienaar

Family man, seeker and learner. Revealing my inner-poet. 2X Founder: Conversio (acquired by Campaign Monitor) + WooCommerce (acquired by Automattic. Ex-Rockstar.

Negative Splits

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”

- Haruki Murakami (What I Talk About When I Talk About Running)

At the start of your journey, you have passion, excitement and adrenaline. But can it last?

I was recently re-watching Gail Goodman's talk about SaaS' slow ramp of death which was a good reminder about how long "the journey" is. And it's hard.

Malcolm Gladwell has a 10 000 hour rule to master anything. And in StartupWorld, the way we'd go about that is to get through that 10 000 hours as quickly as possible, because that's how we succeed.

It's all about starting and moving as quickly as possible.

I recently had my mind changed though after listening to an older Seeking Wisdom podcast episode. Trying to condense 10 000 hours into say 2 years might not be as beneficial as doing it in 10 years.

Theodore Roosevelt said: "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty."

This may be a sweeping generalisation and it might be exaggerated. But what we know about SaaS / startups / business at least is that the journey is generally much longer and harder than expected.

Which brings me back to the title of this post, where I've borrowed (yet) another running term for this analogy.

"A negative split or the action of negative splitting is a racing strategy that involves completing the second half of a race faster than the first half."

The majority of world records in longer distance running (at elite level) has been set using a negative split racing strategy.

The key to the strategy is to not start too fast, not be swept up by the adrenaline and eventually grow stronger as the race (journey) progresses.

This is such a good reminder for both life and business. There's always other people or businesses that are at a different stage in their journeys than where we are. Some are out of the starting blocks quickly and off to a flying start. Others develop much later before finding their groove.

I sometimes still make that mistake where I look at other businesses and tell myself "we should've been further along already".

But that isn't what matters.

This is a long journey and it's okay to start out slower. What likely matters more is how we progress along the journey and how we ultimately end it.

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