If it fails, at least I shipped a better version of myself

start up fear
By Perri Blake Gorman, {grow} Community Member

I have a confession to make.

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 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 to do that.

I have not been writing about this for fear of being judged or that these admissions would be 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 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.

In the last year, so 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.

This was a 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.

My 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 strong 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 Fuck it. Let’s ship it.

Ladies and Gentlemen of {grow} … I give you, http://archive.ly

perri blake gormanPerri Blake Gorman is CEO/founder @archively, co-founder @unrollme, moderator of @StartupGrind. She describes herself as an alchemist and a collector of people. Follow her on Twitter @bethebutterfly

Top illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Lindsey Turner

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  • Belle

    “You are completely different person than when I first met you. For the better.” This line actually made me cry. I dont know why but after reading this, feels went over me. It’s as if that this post was written for me, meant for me to read. Na~ whatever it is, this completely caught me off guard. Keep posting! 🙂

  • Claudia Dahinden

    So touching and true – I can relate so much to everything you wrote! Since January last year, I’m also on my way to fulfill a project that seems far too big for me alone – but that’s exactly as it has to be. I made new relationships because I learned that I need others to help me do this, and of course as I believer I go for the motto “dram big, because then you won’t be trying to do it yourself – you’ll have to trust that God is with you 🙂 Sometimes I wonder where this is going to get me, what it is doing to me – it’s a crazy journey, but I so like how it’s changed me – I never felt more a life or more “me”. So as you say – let’s ship it! Let’s get on with our crazy plans in this “bootcamp for the soul” (loved that one!). And as you said: “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” This is genious. Be blessed!

  • Best of luck with the start up. It looks like a great idea. Risk taking sometimes feels like dying. I very much appreciate your sharing your journey, because we are all walking the path. Challenges do make us stronger.

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  • bethebutterfly

    Thank you Pauline! There is an edge where the pain has a certain kind of pleasure! 🙂

  • bethebutterfly

    Thank you! Best of your luck on your journey too! xx

  • bethebutterfly

    Thank you so much for sharing that. That really touched me.

  • Amanda Hoffmann

    No one tells you that the pathway to success is a mine field of your own making. It’s confronting, but that is what personal growth is. You’ll fail, but that’s all part of the journey. It sucks, so you just got to suck it up and push through it.
    I admire you for your ability to put this into words. You obviously have a love for people in general, to share your story. It’s reassuring to know your not alone.
    Congratulations on your personal journey of discovery. Keep us up to date……you never know where it might lead. But hey, that’s the exciting part!

  • bethebutterfly

    Thank you Amanda. I do have a love for people and the response I have gotten from sharing this has brought me closer to many people.

  • Perri,

    Perfect 🙂 These feelings are normal and quite natural because if we were comfortable in all we are doing we would never grow a lick. Dying a bit each day is like that.

    I just returned from meditating in an ashram in India 2 hours ago. 4 years ago I was a broke, fired security guard. The misery, pain, embarrassment, self-doubt and outright depressed feelings I had to overcome to get here were fairly intense. Who am I kidding it was bloody hell at times lol….but like you Perri, as I have learned that releasing precedes acquiring I knew that facing, embracing and releasing these emotions creates a purging effect which allows you to let go the old and receive new, amazing things and ideas in your life.



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