True or False. Life or Death. What do you believe in?

True or False. Life or Death. What do you believe in?

I got this from a recent sermon. It works for start ups. Belief is only really real when true or false means life or death, or similar consequences.

Think about this story: a boy is asked to prove a theory to his class and he chooses the pendulum. He rigs up a baseball and a string and ties it to a pivot on a whiteboard. He explains that, because of the effects of friction and gravity, once the pendulum swings, it will never return higher than its original point and eventually, because of those same forces, it will find rest in equilibrium at the middle. Does the class agree? Yes, of course, everyone has studied this and knows it to be true. And so he begins, swinging the ball and watching in move back and forth until yes indeed it settles as expected. Theory proven. Teacher impressed.

But wait, he says… true or false is easy with no stakes.

So, he takes down another pendulum set, this one strung high into the rafters, containing a giant chain and a 30 lb cinderblock capable of crushing a skull if moving at any decent speed. He asks the teacher to sit in a chair very still and measures out the chain so the block comes just shy of the teacher’s nose. And he repeats the theory. The class unanimously agrees, the pendulum won’t swing further than its prior apex. The teacher is less resolute, checking all measurements and possibilities. He reluctantly agrees and sits there motionless as the block swings with a whooshing sounds across the room and crests just shy of the wall opposite his chair. It begins to retrace its path, building momentum and force as it passes the equilibrium point and continues toward him.

The teacher ceases to believe what he himself has taught. He bails out, to the boos of his students.

To test the depth and breadth of your Belief, consider the absolute of True or False means Life or Death. Do you believe in your start-up enough to sit in the chair? Do you believe in your marketing plan? Your next hire? Your big acquisition? Your next partner? Your logo? Your next shareholder loan in order to make payroll? Your ability to pivot?

Before you make your next big start-up step, ask yourself… how long can I stay in the chair?





I mentor two kids and several entrepreneurs. Similarities are coincidental.