First "What", then "How"

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It used to be such a simple question when we were kids. You wanted to be an astronaut after that movie. You wanted to be a football player after that world cup game. You didn't care "how". Your imagination was pure.

You didn't care the number of years it would take, the amount of money you'd need, the number of arguments you'd have to bear, the number rejections you would have to endure, the number of times you would be misunderstood, the number of nights you would stay awake trying to fall asleep, the number of times you would learn unpleasant things about your abilities, the number of times you would feel physically weak without any ailment, the number of times you would hurt people around you... You just wanted to be that scientist who makes remarkable discoveries.

In the first week of MBA orientation class a professor asked us - "Who wants to be the CEO of a great company?". Not surprisingly almost all of us raised our hands. When the same question was asked a few months later, a lot of people (some of them pretty sharp, I'd say) opted out. I guess the realization of "how" had now sunk in. It was unsettling for me, in a lot of ways. Since then I have tried to judge people less based on talent and more based on effort they are ready to put in.

From my share of struggle in running startups I have tried to live by the first rule of brainstorming - create ideas first and reject/select later. It is important to separate the two activities. Mind is a curious cat. Even before we finish putting our idea on paper, it creates virtual & scary road trip needed to implement it. No wonder our "To Do" list keeps growing. I keep reminding myself:
1. "What
2. "How"