"If it fails, I at least shipped a better version of myself." By Perri Blake Gorman (CEO & Founder, archive.ly)
I have a confession. Most of my life I have spent leaning into the things I am awesome at and looking like a rockstar. If I wasn’t good at it, I just didn’t do it. But there was this way that I felt like a fraud and totally unsatisfied on a deeper level. I want to live a life that stretches me to the edges of my capacity and beyond. Founding a startup is the best way I have found so far.
I have not been writing for fear of being judged or my admissions being used against me somewhere down the road. I am tired of hiding. I have been in denial that I am actually doing this and it is time I start sharing it. There is so much emphasis on outcome, but this path is really about the journey. For those of us walking it, it is really nice to know we are not alone.
I sat with one of my investors a couple of weeks ago and he said, “You are a completely different person than when I first met you. For the better.” It was the greatest compliment he could have paid me. A year ago, I wasn’t ready. You can say you are never ready, but I think there are levels of ready. Now I am more ready. There was a moment recently when I said to someone, “This thing should have died five times and it didn’t.” It is bigger than me. I need to be a pure canvas and let it move through me.
Taking on building a company made me realize quickly how much work I had to do on myself as much as on the company. How many stories I needed to let go of. How many masks I needed to take off. How I didn’t need to grip so tightly but to just let it flow. To realize that people really do want to help me, and to let them. To realize that I need to optimize every aspect of my life from relationships, eating, exercise, sleep, learning, meditation— EVERYTHING — in order to make this happen.
Most importantly, I realized that whatever it was that got me here was not going to take me the whole way. It was time for a new paradigm. I don’t want to hold back or play it safe anymore. I want to drive full speed toward the edge of the cliff and either grow wings or go down in a fabulous explosion. Either way I will be more than fine.
Those who know my story of the last year know how many ridiculous things have gone wrong. It isn’t different than most startups, but I look back at it as a sort of comedy of errors. The same investor said to me “Most people would have quit, but you made it through.” I did, and I also know those difficulties are just a preview of what is to come. Like this was all bootcamp for my soul.
I feel like I am going to throw up right now. My chest is tight, my throat feels like it is gripping, and I am mildly on the verge of tears. All the feelings of self-doubt are rising. The fears rise. The fear that somehow this isn’t good enough, that I’m not good enough, that we totally got it wrong, that it will just fail and disappear, that I just wasted a year of my life, that people will think it is stupid, that people will think I am stupid, that I can’t do this, that I don’t know how to go back to a ‘normal’ life if it doesn’t work, and even have an equally stong fear that this is actually going to work.
I have learned that all the juice in life comes from moments of extreme discomfort and pushing through those edges into a new found freedom. Nothing will ever be perfect. Time to surrender to it.
So F*** it. Let’s ship it.
Did starting up make you a better person?