March 14, 2023

Prepare ourselves for a world in which this is no longer be true


Nothing lasts forever. Everything has a lifespan.

All is perishable, including ourselves.

Eventually, what we have will become what we had.

This is rule number one in this unrelenting carnival called life. It’s bleak and absurd, but to some degree, it’s liberating, as constraints set us free.

Now, while some of us are more attached to thinking good times are going to last than others, in general, the vast majority of people have some conception of impermanence. What interests me is how to use this tension in the service of positive growth.

Because in my experience, problems don’t arise from not knowing what we have, but from not thinking we will never lose it.

Case in point, the founder of my startup once gave a speech at our all team meeting. He was mapping our company’s growth trajectory over the next year. And one of the points he made was:

As our user base increases, our ability to be timely and effective with customer service will decline. We excel at that function today, thanks to the awesome work of our two key support staff, but eventually, it will become unsustainable to uphold that capability. Answering email from a hundred users is one thing, but ten thousand users is another. And knowing that this day is coming, here’s the question we have to start asking now. Even if we’re really good at customer service, how do we prepare ourselves for a world in which this will no longer be true?

This vision is scary, but not pessimistic. It’s merely realistic.

Matter of fact, what our founder said was actually quite freeing. Because the constraints of our impending doom inspired all of us to brainstorm ideas for building systems and structures that could support us down the road.

Later that afternoon, we had a kickoff meeting about building an online help center software to organize knowledge for our users. We began drafting plans for a dedicated hub for our customers to manage their support requests through an automated help desk portal.

Apparently the threat of death is a hell of a creative motivator.

What will you do when what you have becomes what you had? How will you prepare yourself for a world in which certain things will no longer be true?

Hate to say it, but the end is nigh. Better go warn the locals.

Start making preparations today, and keep the flow of gratitude every step of the way.

Because when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Remember that infinity is an illusion, we’re just too lazy to count.

How can you leverage existential tension in the service of positive growth?