I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Ben Horowitz’s excellent and inspiring “The Hard Thing About Hard Things”. The passage below really struck a chord- doing anything new is hard. Really. Really. Hard. I met with an investor of ours a few months ago and it seemed like he was on top of the world. We were eating at the campus that belongs to his company, in the company cafeteria they had. Surely, when you’re at the point when you have your own cafeteria you’ve made it, right? But what he said has stuck with me: “It is really hard to create a company. And it never gets any easier- it only gets harder.” He would know if anyone does, and it’s certainly been my experience. Also reminds me what another entrepreneur friend once told me- “Every day is either the best or worst day of my life.” You’re either on top of the world or in the pits of despair- thus is the roller coaster of entrepreneurship.
Here’s a powerful passage from Ben’s book that resonated with me:
The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place.
The Struggle is when people ask you why you don’t quit and you don’t know the answer.
The Struggle is when your employees think you are lying and you think they may be right.
The Struggle is when food loses its taste.
The Struggle is when you don’t believe you should be CEO of your company. The Struggle is when you know that you are in over your head and you know that you cannot be replaced. The Struggle is when everybody thinks you are an idiot, but nobody will fire you. The Struggle is where self-doubt becomes self-hatred.
The Struggle is when you are having a conversation with someone and you can’t hear a word that they are saying because all you can hear is the Struggle. The Struggle is when you want the pain to stop. The Struggle is unhappiness.
The Struggle is when you go on vacation to feel better and you feel worse.
The Struggle is when you are surrounded by people and you are all alone. The Struggle has no mercy.
The Struggle is the land of broken promises and crushed dreams. The Struggle is a cold sweat. The Struggle is where your guts boil so much that you feel like you are going to spit blood.
The Struggle is not failure, but it causes failure. Especially if you are weak. Always if you are weak.
Most people are not strong enough.
Every great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg went through the Struggle and struggle they did, so you are not alone. But that does not mean that you will make it. You may not make it. That is why it is the Struggle.
The Struggle is where greatness comes from.
Powerful stuff. And only knowing Ben Horowitz as a VC, hearing his story of entrepreneurship inspires and challenges you to greatness at the same time. I have enormous respect for him from reading his story, and I’m only half-way through the book.
I’ll leave you with a worthy and oft-referenced quote from the great Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.