That statement emerged from a conversation I was having recently with a founder friend of mine.
This individual is struggling in their current situation – not far enough along to support themselves with their endeavor but not wanting to let go (if only slightly) to do other work which would pay the bills. They said it feels like being between a rock and a hard place, and it’s painful. I felt it was more like a cliff.
I simply said: “Great Founders Learn To Toe The Edge Without Falling Off The Cliff “
I know this spot really well because I was there for quite a while and I remember almost falling off more than a few times.
What I learned through the process was how to toe the line – balance on the edge if you will – without falling off the cliff. I realized entrepreneurship is balancing the risk of great rewards with the risk of detrimental actions.
How do you know which is which and what to do when you find yourself getting weak knees as you get pushed towards the cliff?
You have to look deep inside yourself and ask “what do I gain from staying here? Do I really only have one option, which is to stay here and not evaluate my other options?”
Notice I said “gain” not “lose”? There’s a big difference between those two perspectives. When you are standing on the edge looking far down the cliff, you have much to lose. So much in fact it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what you are doing and why. Founders face so much challenge and adversity they can easily lose their perspectives and clarity of thought.
I told my friend he needs to look inside and ask what he gains from staying there. He needs to look out for himself first and foremost. He needs to take care of his basic needs – be it money, food, shelter, stress relief, relationships – and only them will the company stuff work itself out.
I said, “trust me, it won’t get any better if you don’t step away from the ledge.”
Stepping away from the ledge is exactly what I did and I am so much better for it. Yes, I had to swallow the pill and realize my “first” attempt at building my company wasn’t going to end like I dreamed it would just a few short years ago. But as I backed away from the ledge and got my priorities/basic needs back in order, things started happening I never thought possible.
You would be amazed what happens to your business life when you remove self inflicted pain and stress from your personal life.