Bouncing back from a setback is a challenge that entrepreneurs need to navigate repeatedly.
On Hacker News about 18 months ago someone posted a question on “Dealing with Post Startup Depression” that read
I recently shut down my first startup ever. I am having a really tough time getting over it and starting all over again. A feeling of extreme weakness and failure has taken all over me, clouding my judgment. Any tips on getting back to normalcy would be highly appreciated.
My answer was as follows.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
Exercise and a break from the computer are both a good idea.
I think you have to reflect on what happened but with some emotional distance.
Remember Thurber’s observation that “humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility” and write down your lessons learned once you can laugh about it (at least a little) so that you are not just re-opening wounds.
Some amount of lateral drift (reading books, seeing folks you’ve neglected as your firm was failing, etc..) can also give you perspective on what to do differently next time.
I had a painful failure about a decade ago and concluded “I am through with being an entrepreneur.” After five years at a big company I realized that I had mis-assessed and that I couldn’t help being an entrepreneur.
Failing at a startup doesn’t mean you should give up being an entrepreneur, but you should get some perspective on how to make “new mistakes” the next time out.
Michael Jordan: I have failed over and over and over again in my life.
Dan Vogel posted a pointer to this YouTube clip of Michael Jordan on Failure where he says the following:
“I missed more than 9000 shots in my career.
I have lost almost 300 games.
26 times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot… and missed.
I have failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.”
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