Buckle-up: It’s Going To Be A Bumpy Ride

When I decided to be an entrepreneur there was an immediate realization that I would also be leaving behind life, as I had known it. The comfort of a regular existence was behind me. Friends, family and former colleagues did not as much attention as I would have liked give them and those close to me had to make many adjustments, as did I. Any entrepreneur will tell you that finding a work-life balance when you are building a company is no easy task and the guilt of not being somewhere you are needed can often take its toll. The really honest entrepreneurs will even go so far as to say that this balance is possibly a fable and that in reality there is a lot of sacrifice involved on all fronts. The status quo, even when you want it to change, is a comfort zone and not easy to leave behind.


‘Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World’. For good ol’ Christopher Columbus, his desire meant leaving behind what he knew in search of a new route to Asia.  Many would say Columbus’s voyage symbolized the spirit of enterprise. Building a startup is not too different. It takes drive, commitment, a hell of a lot of sacrifice, the longing to discover and most of all a true carpe diem spirit. In today’s world, founders and voyagers are likely cousins. Whether or not they succeed as they hoped, all have in common the will to want to be in charge of their own destiny, to carve out their own path and to discover or create something that aids development in some form.

Once I had made the decision to leave the safety of the harbor for the thrill of the unknown I remember a feeling of firm resolve wash over me. I have questioned that resolve and felt it break more times than I would like to admit. However, a quote by Columbus, seemed to have stuck with me and helped me through those times. He said, ‘You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore’. Courage, indeed.

The spirit of entrepreneurship at its core is no more and no less than the will to self-discovery. Creating your own reality rather than living someone else’s requires you to muster reserves of strength you never knew you had to begin with. At first, when you start building the right ship to take you on this voyage, you hammer away alone. You draw up plans, hatch theories and you begin the process of planning the journey with no idea how it might actually turn out. Some obssess about the destination and some fixate on the process while losing sight of the goal. The resilient one get trade off just right. If you are very lucky or incredibly convincing (or both!) you connect with people just as crazy as you, also looking down from the same precipice, at the same time. And they become your companions and your fellow risk-takers.

When you find yourself prepping at 4 A.M. with a team of lawyers, obsessing over details before a funding round, or when you are in four different countries in one week running on little to no sleep but something in you keeps you going, it is the will to self-discovery that moves us forward when even our bodies and minds are screaming to give up. Countless mornings spent getting some quality time in with family and then running off to work again – there are times I feel torn, but having a partner that understands and supports the process makes all the difference. Once the company has taken the initial baby steps and the journey is underway we barely realize how strong the momentum is.. momentum that we ourselves generated. Looking back at the harbor that slowly becomes merely a thin, blurry line behind you; you sit back, look at the horizon far head and think ‘How on earth did I get here?’

Staying grounded when everything is moving in different directions does not require that you lose your will nor that you plant your feet so firmly on the ground that you get stuck. The only way to embrace what is sure to be a bumpy ride and to roll with the punches (and have no doubt, there will be many) is to keep those who really know you very close. It is, after all, our near and dear ones that keep us grounded and our morals and values that guide us forward. We may only remember Columbus’s name today but we know he might still be sitting on the edge of the shore wetting his toes if it weren’t for those that kept him grounded and those that pushed him forward.

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