Sunday, June 24, 2012

Infinity Pace and Life in a Startup

I took a run yesterday for the first time in a while. I went on my usual (long ago) route, and found myself struggling near the middle. Heavy chest, heavy legs. I kept telling myself; just get around this corner. Just get over that hill. Then you can take a rest.

On the next to last hill I was about spent. And then I remembered I trick I used long ago, to shift my perspective, as a way to keep running.

This is what I do: I imagine that I am in a train car, reading a book. The pounding of my chest and thumping of my feet are the sounds of the train. But I am taking the train to a distant town, so it is silly to focus on the engine. Better to imagine I'm sitting in the car, relaxing, enjoying the scenery. So I look around, ponder my own thoughts, or focus on the vanishing point of the trail ahead.

A friend long ago described the infinity pace as the pace that you can basically run forever. For someone as out of shape as me it is ludicrous, but still useful as a perspective. And as I shift into the infinity pace, the effort disappears.  And then strangely, for the last single track stretch, I have a sprinter's energy.

As I settled back in my apartment, this perspective shift unlocked something that I've been struggling with in my recent adventure at UniversityNow, Inc. Building a company is hard work, both intellectual and emotional.  And it is very easy to struggle with every hill.  To get caught up in it.  But that is where good practice and process come in.  We use Agile, with its Iteration Planning Meetings, its backlogs, its retrospectives; these are the rhythmic feet pacing us down the trail.  The process becomes subconscious and will get you up the hill.

Its when you look around at the contextual information that flows by, all of the data around you, and have a meaningful understanding of the destination, that the magic happens.

So to my startup friends out there: find your infinity pace.  When you get in that flow you can let in the insights that make the difference.  And you just might have the energy to sprint when it matters.