I can think of many other incidents in my career as an entrepreneur where Bad Things have happened. But when I look back at them, each one of them has helped me learn and grow. Each one has helped the business even though at that time I had no idea why. As a result, I panic a little less when unforeseen situations arise. One can never plan for every possible scenario, but it helps to have some experience of dealing with different situations from the past.
When one is an entrepreneur, there is an implicit acceptance of the unknown. Bad Things will happen which can destroy a business. It could be a software failure. It could be a sudden exodus of key talent. It could a damaging story in the media. It could be a competitor launching a product or service that seems to be faster, better and cheaper. I have experienced all of the above. And lived through each of them and emerged stronger. What is needed is a firm belief that out of every Bad Thing there is another Good Thing waiting to be created. The Bad is obvious, the Good is not. The Bad is the present, the Good is the Future. It is not easy to think of the calmness of the sea when one is caught in a turbulent storm.
Therein lies the challenge for the Entrepreneur and Manager. One has to rise and see the bigger picture, and put things in context. This is very important to also convey to the other team members. This is perhaps the most important lesson that I have learnt through the years the Outside must hide the Inside. Whatever tensions and pressures one feels within cannot be made to come out on the surface. Else, it will cloud decision-making and adversely affect team morale. When Bad Things happen, it is important to get everyone to rally around and battle it out together. This calls for exceptional leadership. And that is what the Entrepreneur/Manager needs to provide when Bad Things happen. One cannot lose ones cool or make statements which can come back to hurt oneself or the business. There is a need for equanimity. There is a need for the body language and persona to be positive whatever be the feelings within.
I know that we may quickly forget about what happened yesterday and move on. But I also know that sitting in our war room we all grew up a little yesterday. Bad Things will always happen. No amount of prevention planning can completely eliminate them. How one deals with them is what true entrepreneurship and real management is all about.
A note from Atanu Dey on this Tech Talk:
Neitzsche had famously said, “Whatever does not kill me, only makes me stronger.”
It is a truism of course that we learn from tough times. Adversity is a more efficient teacher than mere good times, it “nurtures strength of spirit.” I am reminded of Max Ehrman’s advice:
“Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.”
TECH TALK When Bad Things Happen+T