“I’m trying Ringo….I’m really trying…”

Ugh. Sorry for the lack of posts, but I can’t impart much wisdom upon the masses when I feel like an idiot myself. You see, since I last posted regularly, the company that I fought for for almost 4 years went out of business. And the greatest lesson learned in that is the one that I put off learning until the last minute.

Lesson of the day: It’s all personal.

Try as you may, there is no way to dissociate your personal feelings from the business you are trying to build. Maybe one day you’ll have a billion dollars and you’ll throw some money at a little startup that fails and it won’t bother you. But when it’s your sweat, your money, your time going in to a project, there are two possible results: the unparalleled jubilation that comes with success, or the indescribable heartbreak that comes with failure.

And rest assured that just as the elation that comes with “hey this might actually work!” will leave you joyfully numb for days, the devastation that comes with finally conceding failure will hit you like a piano dropped on your head from five stories up. Nothing you do will prepare you for either feeling, but you would do well to remember that sooner or later, you’re going to experience an indescribable emotion of some sort.

There are entrepreneurs out there who experience neither emotion, none of the glee, none of the misery. They would have you believe they are able to separate business from emotion. They might convince you that this is “old hat” to them, grizzled veterans of the startup world that they are.

Don’t be fooled: they’re either (1) lying to you or (2) not tying very hard to make the business succeed.

I have met a lot of these people (and thankfully not been involved in businesses with many of them) and it strikes me as sad: at the first sign of difficulty, they usually shrug their shoulders and move on to something else. In the event they stick around, they’ll shift the blame somewhere else to absolve themselves of the guilt and shame that comes with failure. They’ll take credit for even the most minimal crumb of success and dislocate their shoulders patting themselves on the back. But they’ll be finger-pointing at someone else when it’s time to admit failure. Take great pains to not have these people on your team. As the sports parlance goes, you want people who “leave it all on the field.” If you and your team – all of your team – aren’t fighting tooth and nail for your company’s success, then you will fail.

And you will deserve it.

And it will hurt.


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