I wrote a post recently touching on my brief bout with Founder Depression. As a result, many mentioned it on Twitter or reached out to personally thank me for writing it and to let me know they also struggled with it.
This sparked a few thoughts: “Is depression actually normal?” And “if everyone deals with some sort of depression in their life then what can we do about it?”
I have come to realize depression is something all of us deal with at one point in our lives. It should not be taboo or anything. It should be addressed and talked about openly as part of the entrepreneurial education process. As founders, we encounter depression usually from external events such as failure of a business or a negative outcome of something in which we had hoped for when we first started out.
I am starting to realize being a great entrepreneur starts by perfecting how to handle the shit in your life. Because it hits the fan waaaaay more times than you plan. I have also come to understand the successful ones figure out how to identify the piles in the road ahead of time, and navigate accordingly before they hit something fatal.
Athletes strength train and stretch in prevention of injuries. Why are we not doing this in the startup community? Why are we not helping people to prevent what inevitably happens to those of us who strive for more?
The point here is to understand its not IF it will happen, its WHEN it will happen to you. And then go into your entrepreneurial journey armed with the idea that you will at times feel very down about yourself and your company. This is reality and this is serious. If a founder doesn’t take it as such they are potentially setting themselves up for disaster.
Like I did.
In a recent conversation with my father we touched on this. I noted that only when I realized I had dug myself into such a deep hole emotionally could I fully grasp where I was and what I had to do to get out of it.
I realized even though I was not in control of external events I was in control of my thoughts, feelings and internal dialog. And I was the only one who could bring myself out of the funk in which I had brought myself into. I had to consciously think and make decisions that would place me in a neutral or positive place.
No more negative self talk. No more whoa is me. No more pity parties and thinking I had let myself, my family and my community down. I had to stop fighting myself, put my ego aside and choose a different path. One that – although it has a few more twists, turns, roundabouts and curves to it – is leading me into an even better position than when I was CEO of my own little startup.
The fact is, if you are a high performer and things don’t turn out exactly the way you planned you will naturally tend to go into a dark place. Those sort of feelings will not help you move forward in any way whatsoever, so please think now about how you will respond once you sense yourself going down.