When I came down from Lake Tahoe down to Palm Springs, I didn’t realize that I would experience a classic cartoon come to life. Living in the high desert I see roadrunners all the time and hear coyotes at night. I now live in the battleground of the famous Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote!
As we spent the week collecting feedback from our first clickable prototype, I thought about the two characters in the epic Looney Tunes series. I realized that, as startup founders, sometimes we are the roadrunner and sometimes we are the coyote.
On the surface, the roadrunner seems to possess all the positive qualities. It’s smart, fast, and always the victor. And because of that, the roadrunner is the character we all strive to be. The roadrunner zips through the desert, traversing winding roads, through hills and valleys with seemingly limitless energy and speed.
“In startup mode, those are the good times. When you’re rolling, you’re rolling!”
But the journey is not always so smooth. Sometimes, you’ll be cruising along and BOOM! Suddenly, that wide-open tunnel you were heading towards turns into solid rock, stopping you in your tracks. It’s in those times that we must take some cues from the coyote.
When you observe Wile E. Coyote, you can’t help but appreciate his determination and grit. He is unwavering in the pursuit of his objective. Fueled by a deep hunger, literally in the cartoon’s case, the coyote is relentless. This is what keeps the founder driving forward. But, as we all know, our poor friend, Wile E., also has some pretty big character flaws that need shoring up. Traveling with a pack may have helped spare him lots of pain!
As I headed down the rabbit hole of the roadrunner/coyote metaphor, I came across this article that enumerated what to do when you’re feeling more like the coyote and less like the roadrunner. The advice is perfectly aligned with what we must do as founders when the road gets a little rocky. So when the journey seems more like CRASH-BANG-BOOM, stay focused, stay driven and get back to BEEP-BEEP!
Getting Back to Roadrunner Mode
Excerpt from this article, originally posted August 28, 2013
Stop and Take a Breath
Coyote is obsessed and single-minded at the expense of reaching his goal. Atypically, he has no peripheral vision. Plus, he never stops to wonder why things always blow up in his face. First, take a breath. Remember who you are. Sometimes you have to slow down before you can speed up.
Connect the Dots
Coyote’s a clever tactician but his strategy is flawed, and he never learns from his mistakes. Painful though it may be, nothing changes unless you’re honest with yourself and question your core assumptions. That means being inquisitive, asking tough questions and facing your demons. With a new set of lenses you can see reality more clearly and critically, and move forward with renewed confidence.
Change the Context
Coyote is always in the desert, a stark and unforgiving place where there are few options. To change the context and rewrite your story means opening your mind to new possibilities – to thinking differently, taking responsibility and assuming some calculated risk. Reconsider your objectives and your strategy, and make sure you have both the assets and the will to succeed.
It’s Tough Being a Loner
Most coyotes travel in packs, yet Wile E. travels alone. Not so smart. There is strength in numbers. We all need help and support, and a chance to return the favor. Find your tribe, expand your networks and increase your chances of success. There are only two characters in Coyote’s world but countless others in your own. Decide what you want and work with others to make it happen.
Find Your Voice
Do you notice how Coyote almost never speaks? He never howls or expresses himself. Rather, he toils silently alone pursuing an elusive goal that’s become his obsession. To change his fortune and find his voice Coyote needs to change himself. He needs to ask for help. You can’t shape your future unless you declare your intentions, and that means having the confidence and clarity to do so.
We can’t fault Coyote for not taking action. The old dog is always in motion, except for when he’s getting clobbered time and again. He’s stuck. Taking action is ultimately rewarding when you’ve done your homework – sized up your situation, clarified your objectives and committed to goals based on reality.