only the ladder is real

Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.
— Peter Baelish aka Littlefinger from Game of Thrones

Physicists define chaos as patterns of behaviour that seem random because it is so unpredictable. These patterns respond wildly even to minute changes in input conditions. Chaos also refers to formless matter before the universe took shape. It may as well refer to the life of a startup.

An idea is just formless matter. Entrepreneurs infuse form and order over time into that which is without form and highly sensitive to minute perturbations.

Bringing order to chaos requires an ability to set aside the awe and wonder of a big idea and step on to that microscopic, mundane, and meticulous next rung of the ladder. Each step reduces the sensitivity of the idea and your ego to small changes because you have gained foresight that is increasingly sinewed with knowledge, understanding and wisdom. One rung is all you need right now.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that any complex and large endeavour can be broken down into infinitesimal rungs to where that next step is no longer intimidating or out of reach. They also understand that inertia spells death for a startup while momentum allows you to see another day. They dispel themselves of the notion of lesser or greater momentum. The focus is purely on momentum, no matter how great or small.

The climb is all there is. Sometimes you manage one rung in a day; sometimes one hundred. Both count as victories. But staying in the same place is unacceptable. The weight of this insight causes majority of entrepreneurs to falter because the microscopic, mundane, and meticulous stands in stark contrast to the sexiness they attributed to the idea of entrepreneurship when they started.

Some say love the problem but the actual problem may not have revealed itself yet. Others say it’s about the solution but your solution may get vaulted over at any time. I say embrace fluidity and chaos for it will help you reframe the problem and enlighten your solution. Use chaotic matter to fabricate the very rungs that form your ladder.

Photo credit: Chaos Theory and Logistical Map by Geoff Boeing