This is the 2nd in a 3-Part Series chronicling the first six months of our web development startup, “Nydus Media”:http://www.nydusmedia.com. Like all young companies, Nydus has already encountered a its share of challenges. The fact that, together with my cofounder, *I launched the business from my Army unit’s forward base in Afghanistan* at times made the launch harder. But believe it or not, this added challenge actually helped us, too. It has taught us how to clear some very high hurdles — and just as important — how to lower some of our expectations.
Our server problem, mentioned in “my first post”:http://www.foundread.com/view/operation-enduring, “Operation Enduring Start-Up,” was something created by someone else and one that was by and large completely out of our control. Additionally, we had our own expectations for launch and publication dates that we could not meet due to this circumstance. When met with problems and failed expectations such as these, it’s natural to become frustrated, angered, or even feel defeated. *The difference between those who succeed and those who fail are in crucial moments such as these.* Those who are ultimately successful refuse to give up – they push forward in the face of adversity. Those who fail, throw in the towel.
As an entrepreneur and soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve currently deployed to Afghanistan, I am no stranger to adversity and failed expectations. I’ve had to venture through countless hoops just to get my business where it is today – in its most admittedly fledging state. Not least, I’ve had to persevere through the obstacle of being torn from the real world and thrown into a war. I’ve learned many things. Like, life is rarely kind to people. This is true in general, and is especially true of those who strike out on their own accord and attempt to achieve greatness. For founders of new businesses, there is no safety net; you either overcome adversity or you come crashing down. I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching to convince myself that I shouldn’t give up on my startup when I was shipped over seas. In the end this decision has afforded me the opportunity to learn *many new, valuable lessons* as well as build my company to new heights – all from a third-world country.
*If clearing the hurdles isn’t hard, you’re probably not trying hard enough.*
Most everyone is met with complications or opposition when attempting something new. If you’re not facing difficulties along the way in your business ventures — and in your life — you’re probably not trying hard enough. Never trying something new may allow you to avoid failure, but it will also ensure you are never as successful or happy as you should be.
*Success is not only about clearing hurdles. It is also about adjusting expectations.*
Thanks to the many stumbling blocks of founding from Afghanistan — such as, our repeated server failures, thinking again and again that it was resolved, only to receive another delay (this is STILL stalling our formal launch, weeks later) — I now have my business expectations in check. Now, *I am rarely flustered when things don’t work as planned.*
*The lessons we learn running our businesses, ought to be applied to our personal lives, too.*
This might sound like it’s off the topic, but it’s not. You’re a founder — your company is about you, not just your product. I found out while on my two week leave from Afghanistan that *I didn’t have the same checks in place on my personal expectations.* As is often the case for soldiers, after being gone from the “real world” for some time, I developed quite an idealistic, even Utopian view of the world. I expected to return to the warm comfort and luxury of Western life and all it had to offer. I expected to party every night, be in overdrive the whole time, and even temporarily reconnect with the woman who left me while I was away. I quickly found out how wrong I was.
We’ve all heard the saying, “expect the worst and hope for the best,” and while this may often be sound advice and lead to a rather pleasantly surprising life, it simply isn’t human nature. We use expectation as a way to motivate ourselves and to prolong feelings of equanimity and elation. It can also be used in an opposing fashion to cushion the blow of disappointment and trepidation. I used it to look forward to a brief and exciting vacation, but for the first eight days I was simply left disappointed by the reality I had inadvertently skewed in my own mind. I quickly found that people do indeed have day jobs and cannot spend every day as if it were a weekend. Similarly, just because an expectation or a problem is a priority to your business, this doesn’t mean it’s a priority to anyone else’s buinsess (like the guy you’ve hired to solve your server problem).
When running a business or running your life, it is essential that you keep your expectations in check. *You shouldn’t expect the worst, or the best; strive for a balance that equates to a realistic view of your circumstances.* This will not only make you happier overall, but will serve to make the possibility of success greater. Instead of becoming frustrated or angered by failed expectations, you will be prepared for them. As for always expecting the best, it is often incredible what we can find when we stop spending all our time looking for it.
*My third piece,* slated for a few months from now, will wrap up these topics by discussing where the company is at then, where it’s going and what we’ve learned of value along the way. I hope this piece has helped you in some way in regards to your own ventures and be sure to come back for the next installment!