83-logo
Courage comes in all sizes and shapes
Judy Shapiro , Editor | May 13, 2013
Topic category: Startups
Forever Neurotic
CC image

Courage comes in all sizes and shapes

I have been haunted periodically by the suicides of tech stars such as Aaron Swartz, Jody Sherman and Ilya Zhitomirskiy among others.

These heartbreaking ruptures in the normally optimistic and “passionate” world of tech startups were a jarring reminder of the toll trying to create something from nothing really takes on people, especially CEOs.

Starting a new venture is a bit like being in a hallucinogenic state - detaching from reality just enough to have the courage to embark on what is a journey fraught with frustration, setbacks and disillusionment. Add to that mix the odds against success and one is amazed that anyone starts a venture.

And while in the light of day, one can embrace the hallucination and stay grounded, in the quiet of the night, the startup demons come out. They remind us of how many things can go wrong, extolling us to turn back before it is too late and the venture bring us to our doom.

It’s no wonder that startup CEOs share a certain kind of crazy where delight, despair, depression and elation all mingle within a tightly share space within the heart and head of the CEO.

This is why I applaud a recent post from Brad Feld, a well known VC who helped shape the current tech renaissance. In his recent post on feld.com, he wrote a moving post called, “When The Sun Comes Out”. Here is an excerpt:

My metaphor for my depressive episodes has always been that “dark clouds build on the horizon” as depression approaches. I no longer am afraid of the dark clouds, nor do I go through crazy rituals like I did in my 20s to try to keep them away. I don’t embrace or encourage them – I just accept that they are there. Often they disappear after a few days. Sometimes, like this time, then move on in and block out the sun. And then – like a long Pacific Northwest rainy season, they just hang there. Every now and then the sun peeks through and things feel a little better, but then the dark clouds swallow up the light again. 

Many people commented on the post mostly simply offering support to Brad for the courage in talking about it. Others noted a post from Allie Brosh that is a powerful visual expression of depression. Yet others noted ways to help – perhaps with some new regime or mental approach.

But what came through to me more than anything is that openly talking about depression is the most courageous act of all. By merely acknowledging its presence out loud, we take some of the bite out of its grip.

Slowly then, if we allow it, our souls find the energy to reignite our lives. As Brad noted,  it is in these times that our most expansive creativity can be expressed.

Finding the courage to carry on until the sun comes out is the greatest act of courage a person can achieve. 

Author’s note: Brad Feld has published a few books one of which is called “Startup Life.” It is a sensitive exploration of the toll startup life has on the people’s intimate relationships. For more information:  startuprev.com/startup-life-book



Tags: startup life, brad feld, courage
comments powered by Disqus
Discover Brad Feld’s insights into leading a balanced entrepreneur life.
Watch This Video

Startup Life, is written by Brad Feld—a Boulder, Colorado-based entrepreneur turned-venture capitalist—shares his own personal experiences with his wife Amy, offering a series of rich insights into successfully leading a balanced life as a human being who wants to play as hard as he works and who wants to be as fulfilled in life and in work. With this book, Feld distills his twenty years of experience in this field to addresses how the village of startup people can put aside their workaholic ways and lead rewarding lives in all respects.

Startup Life Official Book Trailer: Brad Feld & Amy Batchelor
Some_smart
Some Smart Reading

Startup Life, is written by Brad Feld—a Boulder, Colorado-based entrepreneur turned-venture capitalist—shares his own personal experiences with his wife Amy, offering a series of rich insights into successfully leading a balanced life as a human being who wants to play as hard as he works and who wants to be as fulfilled in life and in work. With this book, Feld distills his twenty years of experience in this field to addresses how the village of startup people can put aside their workaholic ways and lead rewarding lives in all respects. While there's no "secret formula" to relationship success in the world of the entrepreneur, there are ways to making navigation of this territory easier. Startup Life is a well-rounded guide. Here are some tips you need to succeed in both your personal and business life. 1) Never Schedule High Priorities Activities or Deadlines on Fridays: Doing so will likely create a scenario that drifts into Friday night, Saturday, and then Sunday. Always be realistic about the ebb and flow of the work cycle. 2) Don't Bring Up Charged Topics at Bedtime: Your bedroom should be a sanctuary and a safe haven from the demands of the world. Never start a conflict when your you and your partner are in bed and dozing off to sleep. 3) Laugh and Laugh Often: We believe you can never hug each other enough, say you love each other too much, or laugh too often. 4) Apologize and Forgive: Practice apologizing when you hurt your partner's feelings. Offer forgiveness when your partner has been careless with your feelings. Know that you will try to be your best self but that you will often fail and will need to hone your apology skills. 5) Have a Life Dinner Once a Month: Make a reservation right now at one of your favorite restaurants. Go out--just the two of you. Buy your significant other a gift. Turn off your cell phones and hand them to the other person. Spend a long slow dinner enjoying each other's company. 6) Set Limits on Technology: You do not need to do just one more e-mail right before bedtime. You really don't. You need to sleep well and restore yourself and reset your brain chemistry during a nice night of rest. Those who need to take breaks from technology are often the least likely to do it. 7) Live Where You Want to Live: Pick the place where you want to live and build your life around it. Our contributors to the book, Mark and Pam Solon, say "We believe it's important for young people embarking on their lives to realize that geography matters in your happiness quotient and that it can even out--weigh the highest-paying job opportunities." 8) Life Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Another contributor to the book, Dave Jilk, says "If I could send my younger self a message from the future, it would tell me to treat my career more like a marathon than a sprint." 9) Commit to Each Other's Dreams: "Recognizing that one's partner is pursuing their dream, they are satisfied down to their soul and, in so being satisfied, are that much more alive. That level of aliveness is a gift few partners can ever give, and successful couples recognize this," say Tim Enwall and Hillary Hall. 10) Always Answer His or Her Calls! While it might seem like a small gesture, the cumulative impact of doing so on a regular basis shows your partner they matter to you.

While there's no "secret formula" to relationship success in the world of the entrepreneur, there are ways to making navigation of this territory easier.
Some_smart
Product Central

Entrepreneurs are always on the go, looking for the next "startup" challenge. And while they lead very intensely rewarding lives, time is always short and relationships are often long-distant and stressed because of extended periods apart. Coping with these, and other obstacles, are critical if an entrepreneur and their partner intend on staying together—and staying happy. * Includes real-life examples of entrepreneurial couples who have had successful relationships and what works for them * Provides practical advice for adapting to change and overcoming the inevitable ups and downs associated with the entrepreneurial lifestyle * Written by Brad Feld, a thought-leader in this field who has been an early-stage investor and successful entrepreneur for more than twenty years

Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur