I met Hiten Shah at the Lean Startup Machine in New York City. He was a mentor there so throughout the weekend my team had a chance to interact with him. Overall, he made a strong impression on me as a really bright, cool guy. So when I came across his newsletter “Hitenisms” I was intrigued and decided to subscribe. This morning I received my first one in my inbox:
I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strengthfrom distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business oflittle minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whoseconscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principlesunto death.” – Thomas Paine
Life has a funny way of acting normal most of the time, and thenone morning you wake up, and the ish hits the fan.
If you run your own company, this happens more and more often asyou grow, and bump up against competitors, naysayers, patenttrolls, and other awesome varieties of troublemakers.
Anyone who tells you that this doesn’t totally suck and make you want to question life sometimes either hasn’t been at it longenough to dole out advice, or is completely bullshitting you.
The reality of running your own business isn’t as glamorous as itis made out to be; for starters, there are tons of highs and lows,and also a heaping amount of uncertainty—even when you’re doing well.
However, I promise there is a silver lining in all of this.
As it turns out, you do actually have a choice about how to dealwith all of these experiences as an entrepreneur, and here it is:smile or die.
It may not seem like a choice—slap a grin on your face orperish—but there is actually an element of choice involved.
You see, you’re always going to have more obstacles in your paththan you care to have; some will be seemingly insurmountable, butyou overcome them and feel stronger for it. Then there are the onesthat rock your world and threaten to throw you off course for aperiod of time.
So, where’s the choice?
Well, in how you handle those obstacles.
Do you learn from your mistakes and make sure they never happenagain, or do you ignore the problem and hope it goes away quietly(hint: it never does)?
True power as an entrepreneur comes not in having a perfect trackrecord—it comes from effing it all up to the point of no return,then quietly reflecting and coming back with a smile on your face,happy that you’re getting a second shot.
I really liked this. Something I’ve learned which this email manifests is that we cannot let the situations we find ourselves in define us. Rather, its how we react to those situations that speaks volumes about who we are. We’re going to find ourselves in messy situations no matter how great of decision makers we are. As Hiten points out, this is especially the case as an entrepreneur. Instead of focusing on this mess, which in many cases is shaped by things completely out of our control, I’ve found it more effective to channel my energy towards my reactions/next steps. In alignment, I’ll try to attach my introspective assessments to these reactions instead of the “state of things” which can often be pretty rocky.
Hopefully, Hiten’s thoughts provide value to those reading this.