Pi of Life : Strain, Stresses and Pressures inside the Startup Cauldron

Jason Calacanis sent a mail out after Jody Sherman’s death suicide. He raised issues about the stresses an entrepreneur goes through, and about what success meant, and should be celebrated. He also mentioned other similar tragedies of the recent past – that of Aaron Swartz, and of Diaspora’s co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy. stress

All of these guys were relatively young, and stars in their own right. All of them probably faced different stresses, and had their own ‘reasons’ – not that anything justifies this kind of a step. But these are serious, avoidable losses in more ways than one.

Why did they happen? We don’t know. We won’t even try guessing – the mind is too complex a thing for us to fathom, and we’re not equipped or qualified either. But we do see problems at the level of the individual once in a while as we interact with so many folks.

Entrepreneurship is a tough, often lonely journey. Its a roller coaster, like everyone says. Thing is, there’s a lot of excitement on the ups – people around you, conversations, kudos, encouragement – and time just flies past. The downslopes, on the other hand, seem to last forever. The light’s gone out, and there’s just walls to talk to. Worse, outwardly you often have to maintain a facade of cheerfulness and positivity. All this still does not mean you should allow yourself to ever descend into a vicious loop of depression, dejection and loss of hope. That’s just plain absurd.

Remember you’re not alone.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, out there exactly like you who’re facing the worst challenge of their lives, seem to have lost the drive or energy, have broken relationships, finances in tatters and visions and dreams crushed by reality. You just have to believe it’ll get better – because it always does! Those homilies about it all being a learning experience are way more than that – they’re the mantra to not just go through the pain, but enjoy the journey which its a part of.

Reach Out.

To a community of people you can share your journey with. Build a network of those you trust, and communicate with them regularly. It might seem like an overhead when you have a gazillion things to do, and a support group may not fit the macho “I-can-handle-it-entrepreneur” picture you’ve painted in your head, but please recognize you’re human. This is also a great reason to work with a co-founder. Many of us need support during our lows, and having another person helps through those phases.

Watch Out.

Look out for other folks around you. Ask people how they are, or if you can help. Be there especially when things aren’t going that great. Pick up the phone, catch someone on chat, meet for coffee. It takes only a few minutes, but letting someone know they’re not alone in their battle helps.

Celebrate Failure.

This, all of us need to do better, and more of. It acquires a completely new dimension in the context of this article. When people do things wrong, or things go wrong for them, its important to remember to critique the issue, not the person. Its important to lend a hand in whatever small way and to applaud the effort itself. In fact, its important to find and point out the silver lining, and highlight the path ahead.

Because hope is an entrepreneurs most valuable currency. And spreading it is what makes the journey enjoyable.

Team NextBigWhat and the awesome community on the Forum are forever willing to listen, lend a shoulder, hand and walk alongside. Do give us a shout to share not just your successes, but your pain, pressure, failure – everything.

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