face it

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced,” wrote James Baldwin.

In startup entrepreneurship, you have to face everything all at once. Only to suffer from stress because it’s hard to do everything by yourself.

Prioritize what to face first. Better yet, have the market and your customers prioritize it for you. Whatever they feel the strongest about, that’s the challenge you’ll face first.


When you’re out in the sea, drowning, and you see a buoy, you don’t care if that buoy is either closer or farther from shore. You won’t hesitate and consider if this move is increasing or decreasing your chances. You’ll just care about survival.

Even with the best strategical plans in place, and a framework that you can apply to critically assess every move when push comes to shove, the choice is simple, and that’s totally fine.

Aim for having a plan in place that guides every move, allow for deviations anyway.

only tranquility

One of the favorite sayings of my (foster) dad must be, loosely translated, “only tranquility can save you.”

Stress is the way of our cardiovascular system to prepare for something to come. Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, adrenaline proliferating from your gut into every muscle.

A gift of mother nature. Something potentially stressful coming up? No problem. Let me heighten your awareness and temporarily increase your reaction speed.

Stress, appropriately applied, helps us. It’s just that that applying stress properly, in a beneficial way, is tremendously difficult.

Keeping your composure is required to think clearly throughout a stressful situation.

brain massage

Suppose a brain cramp is a real thing. Furthermore, suppose that quitting or taking a break isn’t an option when the cramp manifests itself, much like a marathon runner who cramps up in the final meters.

Undoubtedly, the results of that forced endurance will be felt afterward. Likely, the marathon runner will find it (more) difficult to walk. The brain cramp may result in a reduced ability to think straight.

What’s the way out? For muscles, a massage seems fitting. Perhaps applying alternating hot and cold pressure alleviates the pain? If so, what’s the alternative for a brain? How does one massage it?

What helps muscles is moving them in the exact opposite direction. To recover from a figurative brain cramp, does one need to stimulate it in the opposite way of what caused the cramp? Refrain from stimuli altogether?

Given the complexity of the brain, a single, correct answer is unobtainable. Doing nothing can be strenuous.

brain train

Every day a different muscle group. That’s what it takes to train muscles. Train them to become larger and more powerful.

Training the same muscles within 24 hours has a detrimental effect. The muscles need a day to restore. Training within the timeframe the muscles require to rest has an adverse impact. It makes the muscles smaller or less powerful.

What is true of muscles is perhaps also true of the brain? Provided that excessive use leads to cramps, how does one train the brain?

What’s the ideal balance between doing something every day to become better at it and resting sufficiently, again, to become better at it?

tranquil restlessness

If I could just tweak this. Improve that. Ship this build. Release this feature… In the mind of an entrepreneur, there is never a dull moment.

Minor, latent anxiety feels like being perpetually slightly over-caffeinated. Constantly running out of time. Battling against the clock.

The trick is to find tranquility in restlessness. Calm in the midst of turmoil.

bye bye bear

Make more profit then. That’s what the virologist said. Advice provided freely in response to businesses complaining they’re suffering. While the advice in itself isn’t wrong per se, it definitely lacks a whole lot of nuance.
If you are prevented, or even worse, prohibited from operating (part of) your business, increasing profit is impossible.

When a bear hibernates, it prepares for eight months, give or take. It can’t magically prepare for two years. If the circumstances somehow don’t allow for the bear to wake up after eight months, it’s bye bye bear, unfortunately.

What’s true of nature is also true of businesses. Running a company is like driving a race. You’ll have to know precisely how much fuel is left in the tank. Take on too much fuel, and the excess weight will slow you down. Take on too little fuel, and you might end up running on fumes, causing you to have to forfeit.

Prepare the best way you can. No more, no less.

to do nothing

How to not do anything? A silly question. However, for entrepreneurs working long hours, the answer isn’t always straightforward.

What if I tweak this? Improve that? There is always work to be done.

Gaining inspiration is challenging in an always-on mode. Once in a while, decompression must occur to make room for new ideas.

Resting comes naturally for some of us, definitely not all of us. Make sure to schedule some time to not do anything at all.

tunnel walls

Mental and physical symptoms often accompany severe work overload. Increased heart rate, feeling like the walls are closing in, among many other signs. A predicament to (try to) avoid at all cost.

Easier said than done. Who anticipated the pandemic lasting so long? As a social and harmonious person, working from home will be extra strenuous for you. Something you had rather avoided, but here you are.

We all get stuck in this position now and then, and that’s fine. It’s bad enough already as it is. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it. It’s like driving on the highway; you miss an exit, and are now forced into a tunnel. Turning back isn’t an option. You’ll have to wait for the next exit.

What if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel? All that means is that the tunnel is too long (or curvy) to see all the way through. Trust the process and progress you’re making. As long as you keep going, the light will start to show, any moment now.

stress by proxy

When someone you care about is in a stressful situation, and we’re overcome by this jittery feeling, it seems as if we can feel stress vicariously.

Not the kind of stress a parent feels when they arranged with their child to be home before midnight, and it’s two in the morning. Sick with worry, the angst is fed by not knowing where their kid is. Not knowing is always bothersome.

The kind of stress a parent feels when they’re nervous about their kid’s examination. The anxiety a partner feels when their loved one undergoes surgery. The disturbing inability to change a situation can eat us alive.

Stress by proxy isn’t all bad. Apart from being an apparent nuisance, it’s a visceral reminder of how much we care about a person.