An early-stage venture is rife with problems, and is, almost by definition, in a perpetual state of brokenness.
There are team members you’re not wild about, and others who hold so much promise but aren’t performing to their potential.
Your app is buggy, and, despite a continued focus on quality, new defects still surface.
You walk out of meetings knowing they could have been run better.
It’s easy to be hypercritical. You can play games like brightspotting or focusing on the things that are going well. The conversation will inevitably gravitate back to the gap between reality and desired performance.
One of the mindsets I adopted which was game-changing for me years back was to not talk about problems to solve, but opportunities to improve. What became as a simple mental trick (whenever you want to say “problem,” simply say “opportunity to improve”) flowered into a different internal mindset.
We’ve come this far despite all the debt on our shoulders, in our software, in our culture – imagine what happens when we fix it?
Pushing myself and my team to think half-full (opportunities) instead of half-empty (problems) changed the tone of conversations quickly.