In honor of the the Mars rover launch, this space nerd is celebrating with The Martian, which is this week’s movie analogy for entrepreneurship. The book is freakin’ fantastic and if you need a late summer quarantine read, you won’t be disappointed!
Oh, my goodness. How much do I love The Martian? SO MUCH. Yes, it’s about a dude who farms potatoes on Mars, but it’s badass, y’all!
There are two sides to this story… the actual business side of how this story came into existence and then the fictional side, which forms our business analogy.
The business side of this story involves the author of the book, Andy Weir. Before there was a movie, there was a book (3 cheers from this librarian!) and the author originally wrote his manuscript as a series of blog posts. Can you say, Consistent Content Creation Machine? The consistency of his creation is maybe the biggest lesson we can take away from this origin story.
He gained such a following for his material, he ended up with a rabid fandom of astrophysicists and they started to calculate the equations in the book. Yes, there’s math in the book… but it’s accurate. Which makes it super exciting. And if you’re a true numbers geek, you can actually solve the Easter egg puzzles and figure out what year the story has been set (because it’s never explicitly stated in the text). It’s not all math, however… there’s a hefty amount of biology & botany in this book that is largely lost in the movie due to time & script constraints.
The real life story of how this piece of fiction became a reality is a business lesson all on its own. It’s an example of using your passion as slow burning fuel in a systematic way to blockbuster stardom. If you can handle the nerdy science in this video, I recommend a lunch break lesson.
(Pro Tip: They start talking about the creative process at minute 20… yes, the first 20 minutes is a lot of geeking out over astrophysics. I think it’s worth it. 🤷🏻♀️)
But let’s talk about the analogy side of this story… Why this story for this week?
Here’s the simple reason:
Strip away the man-stuck-on-a-planet story, strip away the potato farming on Mars, and you get a story about a character that exemplifies all the qualities of an entrepreneur. Not only the main character, mind you, but also the crew he works with. Every single astronaut is a creature of resilience and this is such a great lesson for the energies we’ve been experiencing in 2020.
If you watch the video with Andy Weir and Adam Savage (from Myth Busters), you’ll notice they talk about how each character is a well rounded and complete survivor. While each of them has their strength and special knowledge base, they are not dependent upon each other.
Which means that when Mark Watney is accidentally left behind on Mars, he’s not totally screwed. Is it really hard? Oh, yes. But is it ultimately doable? Is he able to survive? Oh, hell yes.
When Covid-19 decided to go mainstream and deliver a universal plot twist to all of us, I saw entrepreneurs self-sort into two buckets:
- Bucket #1: People who survive.
- Bucket #2: People who surrender.
Since March, I have been thinking about the parallels in resilience lessons from The Martian and it just won’t let me go, which means there is a mighty big message coming through this channeled analogy.
One of the biggest resilience lessons in The Martian is the way the main character, Mark Watney, exemplifies irreverence. In the face of true and utter uncertainty, honest-to-God peril, and literally no prior examples to draw from (he is the first human ever left alone on an entire planet… just think about that for a minute), Mark never loses his sense of humor.
It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have low moments or that he doesn’t experience fear.
It’s that he never lets his circumstances dictate his outcome.
Even before he discovers the potatoes, which enables him to grow his own food source, he has already decided he’s going to work this problem and survive. He takes inventory of his resources so he can work the problem.
Let’s pause for a second here and recognize that inventory is the very first thing we do inside of Feng Shui Your Bits & Bytes. 😍 You had no idea technical inventory was a business survival tool, eh?
Responding like a survivor starts with an honest & open assessment of what you have to work with.
Mark Watney takes action and does The Work. He does The Work without knowing that Mission Control in Houston has been able to see his activity on the satellite feed. He does The Work because he knows he must. Because he is a survivor.
In our entrepreneurial community, the people in bucket #2 were easy to spot at the start of the pandemic because it was obvious that The Work is only done when they know someone is watching. Not because they choose survival. This same bucket of people has struggled greatly to be authentic and honest during our Black Lives Matter awakening. You can see the difference between people doing The Work and people looking for an audience to recognize their actions.
This is a nifty thing about being a human, whether you’re on Earth or on Mars: You can change buckets any time you want. Which bucket are you in? Which bucket do you want to be in?
Survival is a choice, y’all. There are loooonnnnnggggg stretches of effort and time for Mark Watney when he does the same thing over and over again. He must traverse an empty planet and it is t-e-d-i-o-u-s. He even does it on extreme rations. Yet through it all, he maintains his humor.
This is a fact of life:
Shit & Shift happens.
We have a pandemic today… and after this is finally under control, something else is gonna creep up and surprise us.
As a business owner, you can be a survivor and adapt or you can surrender to your circumstances.
Do you work the problem or do you check out?
If you have a business, you’re already on Mars.
Do you choose to live?
Are you ready to do The Work?
On the Sensible Woo spaceship, we work The Problem with Post-It Notes. We utilize workflows to understand the order of events, identify weak spots, and develop strategy for improved survival.
Before we can get fancy with technology, I keep you grounded in your present moment and remove all of the bright, shiny objects. This is root work… the nuts and bolts you need for working the real problems.
Survivor mentality takes action.
Tomorrow, July 31 is the last day for the Summer 2020 bundle.
Learn how to farm business potatoes on your version of Mars.
From Overwhelm to Om + The Workflow Party = $497 (normally $594).
Our movie analogy this week is The Martian and a big theme throughout is working the problem. Mark Watney constantly works his problems and so does the crew on the Hermes and so does the crew back on Earth. I think in business we get so tempted by our brand image that we forget we are in the business of solving problems.
As you move through these dog days of summer, ask yourself if you’re solving problems. Take a note from Mark Watney and solve enough problems so that you get to “come home”… or in our world, you land those clients. ❤️
When you learn to identify your bottlenecks, you can prioritize what deserves your energy, your time, and other precious resources like your dolla-dolla-bills.
Until something is The Immediate Bottleneck… aka the thing that’s holding back all the rest of your business development, then it’s simply not a priority.
It’s the Temptation Island for your biz… your bright shiny objects… and while your brand identity is indeed important, your clarity on WHO you serve and WHAT you offer and HOW you deliver to your customers is far more important than any website or logo or color scheme.