To Understand an Entrepreneur: Watch Daredevil & Put a Cat in a Box

Entrepreneurs live intense rollercoaster lives where every day tends to be full of highs and lows as so wonderfully depicted in the graph “A Day In The Life As An Entrepreneur.”

To take it a step further, whether you follow Big Bang Theory or heard of this theory through a more legitimate form of education (not that I don’t consider Sheldon a real source of information, but you know what I mean), you may have heard of Schrödinger’s cat.

Here’s my simplified explanation: based on quantum mechanics, this cat that is in a closed box –– until we open it to know for a fact whether he is alive or dead, that is – possesses the unusual characteristic of being technically both alive and dead.

My theory is that this is not a state exclusive to a cat in a box, but one that is applicable to entrepreneurs as well.

Under normal circumstances, a cat cannot be both alive and dead (undead zombies notwithstanding). Similarly, growing up we learn that experiences are usually happy or sad, inspiring or boring. Over time, we understand that things are not quite so black and white, and as demonstrated in Pixar’s “Inside Out” animated movie, there can be more than one emotion associated to any moment in time.

Dissecting the entrepreneur.

For entrepreneurs, this is true to a whole other level: a moment won’t be primarily happy with a touch of sadness. It will be blissful, terrifying, exciting, and panic-inducing all at once.

A new partnership, a product that requires a distribution mechanism, an interview that promises great exposure, a meeting with a venture capitalist who seems keen to invest in the startup – every one of these instances brings about myriad of extreme and theoretically conflicting emotions within a same breath. And that is perfectly normal. For entrepreneurs, that is.

Because just like Schrödinger’s cat is special and different to other cats, so are entrepreneurs different to the average Joe/or, you know, Georgette.

Anyone working in a startup and with some skin in the game is like Daredevil, whose powers rely on super-senses. A single breath can hold the conviction that they are exactly where they are meant to be and would not trade places with anyone for any reason, a blood-chilling fear that if things go wrong it will be the end of their world, an excitement of the universe of possibility ahead of them, and sheer exhaustion at the mere thought of everything on their urgent to-do list.

They could be referred to as Schrödinger’s Entrepreneurs.

I don’t have any miracle solutions to manage this, but here are three steps that should help:

  1. Acknowledge that it is a thing and that it’s ok.
  2. Find the equivalent to Daredevil’s sensory deprivation tank, which could be as simple as taking breaks or meditating.
  3. Surround yourself with a mix of people who know what this is like as well as those who don’t so you can find a balance between compassion and reality checks

In the meantime, don’t forget to open that box and occasionally feed the cat.