What does it take for an entrepreneur to succeed? That’s a tough question to answer and there sure isn’t any one factor. But off late I am introduced to the reality distortion field and I believe it is an important bit for any ambitious person (say an entrepreneur or a leader).
Walter Issacs on in his Steve Jobs biography talked about the reality distortion field of one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our era and that has left me thinking often about this factor living inside every leader / entrepreneur and perhaps every individual. Walter quotes Andy Hertzfeld from the original Macintosh team (1981):
“The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand”
Steve Jobs had unrealistic expectations (his reality distortion field making him believe that it can happen) and he failed many a times. But in retrospect his reality distortion field worked. We cannot take away from him the successes he has had. But is that reality distortion field only restricted to Mr Jobs? Over the past few days, two separate incidents have shaped my belief that a reality distortion field works within every ambitious person.
In one email a friend (& co-worker) emails me “your admiration for xyz over-weighs so much that you are blinded…” He points that I am not seeing the reality, while I kept arguing that I am devoted to the end goal we are here to achieve, it is working. Somewhere in between both our versions, the distortion field breathed its last… we found a common ground, of course that took a few months to happen.
My learning’s from this incident is that the distortion field gives a pace to things, acts as a shot in the arm for actions. Many continued to be blinded with me and still continue, but in this case my friend managed to bring me closer to reality and I spent a few hours fixing a people issue at hand that I otherwise wouldn’t have done.
The second incident is again a conversation with a co-worker who argued that I am not allowing him to achieve large goals. My version of course is that I am preventing you from burning larger holes. And to anyone else working with us, it was clear that this co-worker is just a misfiring gun. His reality distortion field made him believe the same about us. We parted ways eventually. The distortion field though I can see in this case, sure gives a lot of confidence, but not always authentic.
Looking back at some homeruns that I have hit and many that people around me have, it is clear that a lot of success and failures are a product of a reality distortion field. You may argue that it isn’t impossible without a reality distortion field, but I would believe that the distortion field makes one achieve things that defies all logic.
The world is an expert in telling us, it cannot happen, you are wrong, give up. But what keeps an entrepreneur running is his / her own reality distortion field, which not only gets the best out of them, but helps them get over the logical side of brain that stops them from making a big bet. As a third person, I would respect the reality distortion field of an individual, unless of course the thin line between THAT field and BS is not crossed. Some noise is good, but no signal to back it up can be catastrophic.
[Guest article by Annkur/Reproduced from his blog.]