Friends in Dark Places

It doesn’t matter if you call a new venture a start-up or a small business… the one thing that blindsides and breaks founders like me is the crushing lows that can come from trying to build something you believe passionately in.

Call it burn out, call it stress, anxiety or depression — the mountain you are climbing can feel awfully cold and lonely sometimes.

The funny thing is, this doesn’t just happen when you hit a hurdle or a milestone doesn’t workout… much like running a marathon it happens at the times your body and brain hits a wall.

Run too long and too hard without a rest and you will find your wall.

Today I am staring at my wall.

At the wall, everything slows down.

Lethargy, apathy, hopelessness, guilt… the unwelcome cousins of the brighter days will sit in your brain and fill it with weasels.

Feeling like you have people down — you family, your friends, your staff.

Feeling that you have wasted time, or money or chances.

Feeling like there will be no end to the pushing and striving and shovelling of dirt.

Dark places are not always rational

If like me you have a fairly strong analytical mind, you will probably be acutely aware of the irrationality of your situation. The victories it overlooks, the simple solutions that remain stubbornly ignored while your brain spins its wheels and stamps its feet.

You will look at other founders or leaders around you. Dazzled by their reflected successes.

They will seem better dressed, more eloquent and highly achieving (even if that’s not really the case).

We try not to show weakness

We are told this and shown this message again and again. If your team knows you are struggling they will freak out, they won’t follow, they will lose confidence in you.

Welcome to my dark place and it will pass

Today I am staring at my wall and the world feels like a dark place.

I will plan gym trips and working out.

I will ponder hobbies and meditation.

I will lose myself in TV or brain dump ideas until my mind quietens.

Some of it might work but most of all I just need time (and maybe a hug).

I won’t quit

Now is not my time to give up. It’s just not a good day.

I know I am not really alone in this.

Somewhere else in the world is someone building their castle or climbing their own mountain that feels this way too. They probably won’t be silly enough to stream consciousness onto the Internet but they are there.

If this is you, hang in there.

You are not alone.

You have friends in dark places.