I was making myself a latte today on our little cuban espresso machine. As I was frothing the milk, I noticed that there was just not enough foaming action.

I thought for a bit… Should I keep going? Should I hit that big ugly red STOP button? Am I calling it too early? Will it begin frothing in another 10 seconds?

And then I stopped myself.

I realized that I was asking the wrong questions. The real question was, am I on the right trajectory? If I keep going, will I end up achieving the goal (a nice frothy latte)?

At this point, the answer became simple. At this rate, I wasn’t going to make it.

And surprisingly through this lens, the STOP button didn’t look so ugly and scary anymore… Pushing it, pulling over and reevaluating became the obvious thing to do.

I realized that its the same thing in business.

Getting stuck on specific bad outcomes and thinking about ways to compensate for each is a common pitfall startups make. They avoid pushing the STOP button and rethinking everything because that would mean admitting defeat.

BUT, if you focus on the trajectory, it forces you to visualize the bigger picture.

Chances are, you’ll see your impending defeat, and at that point the STOP button won’t seem so scary. Instead, you’ll save a ton of time and pain, and get to success through course correction a lot faster.

As for my latte, after stopping, cleaning and restarting, I ended up with the perfect frothy latte.