I’ve got a friend who is a world class talent in their field. I admire what they do. But their ability is fairly is specific to what they do at a startup and doesn’t transfer easily to different stages. They recently took a job at a different stage and I’m a little afraid for them. What if it breaks them? What if they get burnout? I am projecting a lot onto this friend at the moment as I am also a fairly specific kind of talent. I’m an early stage person.
The reason I’m so sensitive is I’ve been broken by being in the wrong roles or working on the wrong problems. I tried to change myself to fit something I was only a 7 at when I knew I could be working on something where I was a 10. I hurt myself to fit in.
The hardest part about startups is they are genuinely life altering. It’s hard to make something new. Every harder to nurture and grow and sustain it. Creativity is fucking hard. Every time I criticize a project I do it with a hitch in my heart. I know even the shitty failures were the honest best work of people who cared. And often when it’s a success it’s not because any of them were better than anyone else. We are all fighting our hardest battles. Sometimes by the grace of God our work gets lucky.
So in the meantime I think we should all be having fucking fun. I only commit to founders who so clearly want to solve the problems in front of them. That passion cannot be forged. Real interest and focus are such potent forces. You feel it in your bones. Doesn’t have to be a huge world changing problem either. You can just really love your little corner of the universe.
So don’t try to fit yourself into a role for money or status. Pick a startup because it’s going to be a blast with people you love. Make sure as much of the work will be your particular brand of fun. Maybe to someone else it would be hard work. But if you pick right it will be fun even if it takes all of you to do it to the standard of your passion. And if you are very lucky sometimes it works.