I was not a baby person. I am now--- I make faces and play peek a boo with little ones in the grocery store until my teenagers complain. But when those same kids were little, I could never shake the sense that the world was moving on without me.
When you have a baby, the baby runs your life. You adapt you life to the baby's schedule (or lack thereof). You work your own needs around those of this tiny creature. And during that time, your world often seems to shrink to the limits of the nursery.
Some people relish that experience- they love that sense of focus, of nurturing, of having one's sole purpose bound up in helping this beautiful, fascinating, beloved little creature grow. Others, and I have to confess this was me, feel that period as a sort of personal dislocation- you're not who you were before, and this new role seems like an alternate universe. And the glimpses you get of your pre-baby world only add to that sense of getting left behind..
Starting a business can feel the same way. In my own case, I found that the opportunity that came to me required that I put everything else I had been investing my energy in…. Away. On a back burner. In the back of the closet. My focus narrowed to the new thing that needed my full attention.
I referred to the business as my “new baby.” That was a lot closer to the truth than most people probably understood.
During this phase, there's nothing better that you can do for the parent than help them gain a new perspective. We find this every time one of our Innovation Teams works with a young business. When you're head-down in making the machinery work all day, every day, it's easy to miss what's happening outside your door -- the changes and trends that could have a big impact on how your bundle of joy grows. A freash perspective, from people who can see the world ourside your front door, can make all the difference in your success.
The sometimes-tragedy, sometimes-mercy of the baby stage is that it's short. Ridiculously short, at least in retrospect (even if in the middle it seemed to last forever). The tiny creature that could not control his arms is running in less time than it takes to get a Master's degree, and then you find yourself arguing with a six foot hairy man in front of the same window where you rocked him as a helpless baby...
Maybe the lesson for entrepreneurs and innovators is the same one us older parents say to people with little ones- the statement that gets the vague polite head-nod while the baby pulls Dad's hair, the one that we know got the same reaction from us when someone said it 19 years ago:
“Enjoy this time…it goes so fast.”