So this is a topic we have been thinking about for the last 2–3 months. As founders and entrepreneurs, it's something we all grapple with day in and day out, it’s uncomfortable. I started thinking back to some of the earlier days of my professional career and went back to my brief stint as an NCAA coach where I worked at my alma mater after graduation. There was a mantra that the Strength and Conditioning coach used to preach to the players and it is something that has stuck with me ever since. This was a Div 1 NCAA athletic program with teams competing at the highest level of amateur athletics, competing for national championships playing in-front of thousands of people, a high-stakes, high-stress environment. Coach B, as we called him, would remind the players that for anyone on the path to greatness, you need to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
As with professional athletes, startup founders find themselves facing this same paradox. Building a company is an incredibly rewarding and uplifting process, it’s also incredibly uncomfortable at times and can lead to tremendous amounts of pressure and stress. In full disclosure, I feel that all the time. Those that know me might be surprised to hear that as I usually put on a good smile and have plenty of energy, but in private I am constantly grappling with a constant state of uncomfortableness (not sure if that is a real word but I’m going with it haha). I see my friends and peers who chose more traditional career paths, many of them buying homes and starting families, all things that I want, but have put off as I work to build a company, a career, and a reputation. I look at friends with steady paychecks and 401k’s and struggle with the fact that my income has always been inconsistent and unpredictable, not to mention waiting for equity to maybe or maybe not be worth something one day, a very uncomfortable situation.
Plus then there is the pressure of day-to-day decisions, which at an early-stage startup and even growing and scaling startups carries an immense amount of weight on the future outcomes of the company, again impacting the sweat that I have poured into this project.
I recently met a startup that is building a platform to address this issue which society seems to glaze over. Professional athletes, emergency service and medical workers, military personnel, entrepreneurs, and other professionals who engage in high-stress, high-stakes careers. How can we provide these individuals with the tools they need to manage their own wellness just as well as they manage their career. A big part of the platform is built around content that is generated by their own users, stories, and open discussions about the personal challenges these professionals all face and the things they are doing through the platform to help address them.
These stories, in and of themselves are incredibly powerful because they help individuals in these professions realize that you are not the only one going through what you are going through. Hearing the stories and challenges and ultimate triumphs of others and seeing that same story within yourself is an incredibly powerful antidote. It also doubles to help with what Coach B preached to us, helping us realize that our uncomfortableness is ok and feeling it is completely normal.
Finding that state of balance while being uncomfortable is where we as founders, professional athletes, emergency service, and emergency medical professionals thrive. It’s what enables us to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and achieve remarkable things.