Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Great are not the happy ones

On Hacker's news I came across a blog article written by Jess Lee.  It was titled Why Startup Founders are Always Unhappy.  Her theory was that even though the startup may be growing because of constant bumps along the way founders often feel stressed.  I could see how that may be the case.  It is easy to miss how far you came when you are looking ahead and thinking about that one thing that you need to do to help your startup do better.

Actually I don't think it's just startup founders who feel stress at their work.  Any good knowledge worker will feel stress at the work.  Why?  Because good ones are always looking for an opportunity to get ahead and have committed themselves to get better at their craft.

Great ones are obsessed with what they do not yet have, and work like hell to get there.  No wonder great ones are not happy.  They cannot be satisfied with the work they have done today.  They all get up in the next morning and look for that one more thing that they can do to make it even better.

This sounds crazy on the surface.  Unless you are crazy, why would you constantly look for ways to make it better even when you know you are successful from third person's perspective?  But the observer is missing the point.

It's a game.  It's a game where we are trying to prove to the world that we have what it takes to make something great.  The ultimate goal is to a proof by construction.  If you have built it, then you'll have a bragging right to tell others.

But I think it's quite a bit more than telling others and proving that you have what it takes to people around you.  For me, it's about proving it to myself, the toughest critic of my own work.  If I can quiet my own demon by proving my self-worth, I will be a happy man.

So it kindda goes like this.

1. You have something to prove to yourself by becoming great at something.
2. You prove it a bit by bit every day; you get some dopamine surge.
3. But to become great you must start all over to do one more thing to constantly improve every day.
4. To improve you must face where you lack.
5. Facing what you lack is not a happy exercise.

Startups magnify this sentiment because you tend to get what you put in.

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