This Too Shall Pass

With all of the activity at work over the past 18 months as well as a host of mid-life course corrections, I have been negligent in feeding the blog gods. With Maria Katris's kind encouragement at Built in Chicago, I thought I would start posting more often.

One topic that comes up with increasing frequency these days is around managing one's future or career. In addition to all of the bubbly successes, there is a growing amount of stress and angst. Every entrepreneur and VC, at some point in time, has had one (if not many) gut wrenching, anxietal periods. Like a bad night at Texas Hold 'em, the cards keep coming up weak and you begin to question both your sanity and why you are doing what you are doing. Sometimes this is because others are hitting winners in the new SoMoLo (social, mobile, local) wild frontier while you watch and sometimes, it's because you are simply struggling to keep your head above water (dealing with debt, personal issues, non-scaling business, etc). Worse yet, you extrapolate out from today towards a draconian future. It's a terrific formula for sleepless nights (that or writing late night blog posts…).

In all my years, somehow, that draconian future never seems to hit like people think. While they don't get what they want, they often get what they need (thanks, Mick, for the words). So, when things just don't seem to be going your way and others seem to be passing you by or your future is opaque (and driving you nuts), what should you do?

My friend Carter reminded me of a Lincoln tale. When asked how he dealt with setback and issues he recounted a tale about a king who sent his wisest sages out into the world to find out how to live a content and fulfilling life. They returned, huddled and came back with a common finding…the words "This too shall pass".

In my favorite personal blog post, The Significance of the Karma Bracelet, I discuss my own journey down such a path during the last Bubble apocalypse. And again, in the past two years, nearly every aspect of my life has changed and one thing that has kept me balance and moving forward optimistically are these four words. Another friend once said, when you find yourself reinforcing your stress by linearly projecting the present, stop…don't think out more than 2 days and focus on what you have the ability to change not the phantom ghosts you can't. Things will change, synchronicity will come into play and life (or company) will right itself. Nearly all great start-ups have to nearly dance with death at least once and you haven't earned your stripes if you have not found yourself lost at sea in a foggy mist. As my partner, Ed, once said, it is a lot harder to kill a company than you think.

That said, what have you found to be helpful in handling adversity, setbacks and stress?