Listen up everyone, the land is that way!


Following up on my last post, If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it, there is another quote from the book, Creativity Inc., that extends the boat analogy:

The director’s job is to say, “Land is that way.” Maybe land actually is that way and maybe it isn’t, but Andrew says that if you don’t have somebody choosing a course—pointing their finger toward that spot there, on the horizon—then the ship goes nowhere.

The CEO of a startup…or a film director…or a ship captain…should be able to visualize the goal and, even though the way to get there is unknown, inspire confidence in the team around that goal.

Anytime I talk to a young CEO and they say, “I’m not really sure what I’m hoping to achieve with this company,” I immediately stop them and explain that before they do anything else, they need to figure that out. If they don’t know the end goal, then how can they make sure the decisions they make today are going to get them closer vs. further from that goal?

When you’re leading a young company, especially one that is forging new ground, it is important that those you are leading feel confident that you know where you’re taking them. Even if you change the end goal along the way, a lack of confident, land-is-that-way pointing, will result in a fractured, demotivated team.

So, go point to some land already!


  1. TS on August 20, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Startups don’t have a monopoly on the need for good direction.

  2. Jeff Hilimire on August 20, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Completely true, TS. Obviously, startups do have a monopoly on *my* experience, so that’s typically going to be my purview.

  3. […] Know where you’re pointing the ship and you’ll have a chance to find land. Otherwise, you’re unlikely to find the success you’re looking for. […]

  4. Leaders: Don't pick up the oar! - Begin the Begin on February 23, 2018 at 6:58 am

    […] a terrific insight. I’ve always believed that the leader must have a clear vision of where the boat is headed, and to make sure everyone is paddling at the same speed. But the trap so many leaders fall in to […]

Leave a Comment

More Blogs