"Knife and Cutting Board" by Max, CC BY 4.0.

“Knife and Cutting Board” by Max, CC BY 4.0.

“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”

Allen Ginsberg and William Faulkner both are attributed to saying this – although neither may have said it first. What these authors meant is, don’t fall in love with something to the point where you cannot bear to let it go. And that extends far beyond just something you write.

As our team has assembled and executed the concept of Changelane, we’ve had to kill a few of our darlings. Some of the things we’ve been most deeply in love with have proven to be inviable. This seems so right, but, good grief…the metrics show it’s a losing proposition.

In the parlance of startups, they’re called a pivot. It wasn’t easy, but we killed them.

What we discovered, also, is that there is a further step – something that Ginsberg and Faulkner didn’t include. It’s just as difficult as killing all your darlings.

You’ll conceive an idea and of course you will share it. The consequence is that others will fall in love with some of your darlings, too. So, if you conclude it’s best to kill them (the ideas, not the other people), you may discover that your darlings have ardent fans who don’t agree with this act of triage.

Discarding things that don’t work – killing all your darlings – is only half the battle. Getting other people to let them go, too, is critical. Those people can be co-founders, other members of your team, even investors. Each group will express their disagreement through various degrees of pushback. There is no single solution to this.

Which is why you have to kill with conviction and successfully gain the acceptance of every single person who shared the belief in your idea.

Otherwise, the ghosts of your darlings will certainly haunt you. They will find sustenance from the conflict of those who cannot decide whether to support you, or to support your idea.

(No ideas were tortured or mistreated in any way during the creation of Changelane.)

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