When we first started StepOut, I used to get really stressed out by the dissonant signals that come from the day-to-day of running a web startup. There’s just so much shit that can go wrong when you’re shooting to build a $100mm+ company.
Lately, I’ve come to view dissonance as part of the process. You can’t scale a company without it. It’s kind of like in music when the composer creates a work of art in which dissonance plays off the consonance to give a piece more depth.
It’s nice to view this all as part of the process because I don’t have to get emotionally attached to the failures anymore. As long as I know how to read the data being fed to me, and have faith in my team, it’s all just part of the larger picture. While it’s really easy to intellectualize that failure is part of the process, it takes some practice to emotionalize that into a feeling of equanimity. Nowadays, when I get a piece of bad news, I take a step back, go for a walk, take a deep breath, take responsibility or assign responsibility, and turn it into action items. Repeat until dissonance is resolved.
Paul Graham wrote this great article on the “Startup Curve” where in the ‘Trough off Sorrow’ and the ‘Wiggles of False Hope’ are just part of the process. Pretty heady stuff. Go read it.