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Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression

This is an unusual post as it’s on a topic not technology related. However, as a business owner like some of you who read this blog periodically, I thought it was essential reading for anybody experiencing one of those panic attacks at 4am on a Sunday, or looking to the bottle …

OK, these are extreme cases, but being aware of the (natural) cycle of emotions that being an entrepreneur embodies helps in understanding and managing their effects instead of letting them manage you.

Here’s a precis:

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, once wrote:

“First and foremost, a start-up puts you on an emotional rollercoaster unlike anything you have ever experienced. You flip rapidly from day-to-day – one where you are euphorically convinced you are going to own the world, to a day in which doom seems only weeks away and you feel completely ruined, and back again. Over and over and over. And I’m talking about what happens to stable entrepreneurs. There is so much uncertainty and so much risk around practically everything you are doing. The level of stress that you’re under generally will magnify things incredible highs and unbelievable lows at whiplash speed and huge magnitude. Sound like fun?”

The Emotional Transition Curve

The Emotional Transition Curve

  • Stage 1: The first stage of the concept is called “Uninformed Optimism”. At this stage on a rollercoaster, just getting to the top of the rollercoaster, you experience feelings of an adrenalin rush, characterized by excitement and nervous energy.
  • Stage 2: The second stage is called “Informed Pessimism”. As you ride over the top of the curve you now have a bit more information. Feelings of fear, nervousness, and frustration begin to set in. Perhaps you even want to get off of it.
  • Stage 3 – The third stage is called “Crisis of Meaning”. You’re past scared. You feel despair. It’s as if you’re standing on the edge of a cliff ready to jump, and you begin to think “Today the rollercoaster’s going off the bottom of the track for the very first time.” You feel helpless and you’re both terrified and frozen.At this point, you face a critical juncture. You can come off the bottom of the curve and crash and burn, which is when your business goes bankrupt, you lose your marriage, you start drinking, or you end up in a doctor’s office because of stress. Or you can come around the corner because you’re getting support at “Crisis of Meaning” and you can enter an upward swing call “Informed Optimism”.
     
  • Stage 4 – Informed Optimism. You’re calm. You’re informed. You might even say you are cautiously optimistic.

The article on the blog (link below) goes on to discuss activity pairing – ie what to do in each of the 4 phases – to help you capitalise on (benefit from) each emotional state. Essential reading for any business owner.

Read the original post on Tim Ferris’s blog

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