The first DVD I ever bought was The Matrix. Fantastic movie and in 1999 it was mind-bendingly innovative and amazing (and still is 16 years later).
Rewatching it one quote stuck out to me that never really did before. It was from Morpheus to Neo after Neo understands he has powers to learn but hadn’t really figure out how to harness it all yet. Morpheus says, “Sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
What he is saying is that no matter how much you read and watch and discuss and hear, it really means very little unless you do. Nike had something going there when they said Just Do It. The concept that experiencing something gives you a much different perspective than learning something. It was the theme to Good Will Hunting (1997) as well and many a philospher before Hollywood. And it couldn’t be more true.
Working in a startup and creating something new, I’d be willing to wager that there are few things more important than this. At Wonolo, we often ‘do’ by going out Wonoloing, picking up jobs with companies and experiencing them firsthand. Why? Because it gives us firsthand experience of using the product as it was intended, it helps us give better customer support, it leads to a stronger product roadmap, and it gets us out of the office and learning something new each time.
And then we come back and have discussions. And it is very interesting how differences appear and POVs shift when someone is fresh off a job. It is not a question of right or wrong, just a case of changed perspective. And that is hugely valuable. Even the best of us can get disconnected from reality or deeply attached to one way of thinking and getting recharged by ‘walking the path’ is often the best cure. This is especially true for founders who are solving a problem they are very passionate about. They oftentimes assume their perspective is THE perspective without realizing the majority feels differently. Steve Blank reinterpreted Morpheus’s quote by coining the “get the hell out of the building” line.
So, when is the last time you walked your company’s path?