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Oct 12, 2023

A Motivational Rat Story: What Rats Can Teach Us About Running, Composure, Data and Scaling a Software Business

Originally posted

When running early in the morning in the streets of Brooklyn, it’s not uncommon to come across anywhere from three to TEN (!) rats throughout the run. You don’t know when — but each any every time a rat scurries across the sidewalk — the reaction is more or less the same, a spike in heart rate, a mini jump (to avoid the rat’s inevitable attempt to crawl up your leg) and maybe even an audible squeal from the human runner.

But why? Across hundreds of runs, encountering thousands of rats — has one rat ever made the runner’s worst fear a reality? Has the rat scurried up the leg of the runner and taken a big bite out of the runner’s flesh? No. But this fear still remains vibrant even after the thousandth rat encounter.

But what if you could train yourself to be present, stay calm, and rely on the troves of data supporting that fact that the rat WILL NOT crawl up your leg and is almost always scurrying AWAY from you. If you were to take this approach, you would trot along on your calm, smooth morning run and not let your mental state or running performance be dictated by the presence of a rodent!

This approach to remaining calm in the face of potential adversity transcends the sidewalks of Brooklyn and has broad-based applicability in life. Take the startup journey. Surely every founder can look back through time and point out dozens and dozens of events, some more harmful than others but ALL of which the entrepreneur got through eventually. This constant overcoming of challenges defines startup land and is what builds up entrepreneurs (leadership team troubles, cash crunches, churn, employee issues, fundraising troubles). Yet, what do we do when we see a rat? Or when our top customer churns? We panic!

So whether you are running a marathon, or running a startup, and you see a rat…don’t freak out, keep your composure and look at the historical data. You’ve been here before and you’ve overcome each and every challenge with no serious rat-related injuries.

P.S. To squash the pushback around when issues turn into fatal issues. I would suggest this video to highlight why you cannot operate in fear!