This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.
"I tattooed 'survive' on my hand the night before I went away to prison.
And I did. We do what we have to do to survive..."
Uncle Nikolai (25th Hour)
I've posted here about how to deal with massive and unexpected knockout-type punches as an entrepreneur. But there's another type of dangerous threat to an entrepreneur's well-being and survival:
It is the phenomenon of interminable waiting.
You see, entrepreneurs are always in perpetual motion, hurrying from one task to another, taking calls, having meetings, raising money, cajoling, selling, emailing, tweeting, blogging, hiring, partnering, selling some more, stressing, exhorting others, and so on and so forth. To the outside world it all seems like a dizzying whir of movement. Less visible is the fact that this is exactly how the entrepreneurial species waits. Waits? Waits for what exactly?
Think about it. You know what I'm talking about. It's that internal clock we have ticking inside that's coldly tracking the next milestone in our business amidst all the apparent chaos: private beta, first product release, first customers, first investor, Series A, hitting break-even, that big partnership, that first million in revenue, that first bad-ass hire, that first good piece of PR, that first big spike in traffic, and on and on. It never ends. We feed off of it- we live for it.
The problem is, most of these major milestones seem to take forever to materialize. There are always delays, endless obstacles, issues, difficulties, crises that delay our progress. We're fighting inertia, indifference, short attention spans and it's inevitable that moments arrive when our resolve, our will, our morale and in many cases our cash begin to melt away. That internal clock of ours so intent on progress gradually goes haywire and all this interminable waiting begins to cause despair. Thoughts of capitulation slowly creep into our minds...
How we handle and see our way through these moments define who we are as entrepreneurs and whether we survive or die.
That's why I recommend you rent and then watch a certain scene in 25th Hour several times. (Once my buddy Nate over at AnyClip posts it, I will link to it). It is the scene in which Uncle Nikolai describes to Ed Norton's character how he survived through his toughest moments in life. (Norton's character is facing seven long years in prison.)
Sometimes we entrepreneurs need some inspiration and encouragement and this scene will fire you up if you are out there now giving it your all- trying to survive. Let me know what you think.