Where the fu_k is the forest?

Elation, anxiety and panic; rinse repeat. This is the feeling of being in a startup or any new business. Paul Graham mentions this in what he calls the Startup Curve. Two years into Breather I still suffer from the these symptoms, they come and go.

Contrary to popular belief, raising funding and getting money in the bank can be equally as stressful as running out, but slightly different. Not only has someone trusted you, but they’ve trusted you on a level you’ve likely never experienced before. Realistically, how many ideas get funded? Then, how many ideas get millions of dollars? If you’re not worried, you should be. I believe that anxiety and stress are good for you…in proper doses. If you find yourself thinking:

There’s so many trees, where the fuck is the forest?

You need to calm down, and turn that anxiety into focus.

This is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, it takes practice. I got really good at this in university. I had a near meltdown my first year due to a stats and micro economics course. Looking back, it was just plain stupid how bottled up and stressed I was. After assessing the gravity of the situation, I was able to harness that anxiety and make a decision that I would never let anything else mess with me like that again. How?

Step 1:
Panic…yep, panic. Lose your shit, privately, or with someone you trust and love, but don’t take your anger out on them, it’s not their fault, (sorry mom and dad). Treat this panic as catharsis. You’d be surprised how good you feel after a venting session. Everyone has their way. Step back for a few days, take a weekend trip or do something you love. The most important thing to remember is:

Don’t make decisions in this state. It will likely be rash, potentially embarrassing and just plain stupid.

Step 2:
Start to think about solutions. Write them down. Seeing something on a piece of paper is sobering. After you’ve written your items down, get some input. If you’re the CEO or PM, ask your reports. You should have a relationship whereby you feel comfortable sharing with them. Those who work in product management or startups in general, know that you will field tons of request from users, your boss, other departments and investors; just to name a few. What’s important to note here, is know what sets you off. This takes discipline on your part, no matter what your role in the company is.

Step 3:
Time to execute. Sometimes your team will be on-board and sometimes they won’t, but asking the proper questions can help navigate these waters. Find out why they’re not onboard and try to address those issues directly. Make sure your plan for execution is digestible and measurable. You want to think about execution as

Small steps towards a big goal.

Does this aways work right away? No, but after some time you’ll to move towards clarity by learning how to assess anxiety inducing issues.

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