Leaving the chair empty – The stress behind the unknown

stress behind the unknown

The stress behind the unknown is always doubled. Not only is there the worry behind what the new normal will look like, but there is worry about what will happen to the old normal. What will happen to my old office chair? Will all that I’ve built crumble?

A common phrase among entrepreneur enthusiasts is that half the battle is putting your butt into the chair. The scary thing is that it’s impossible to say which chair. An entrepreneur could spend their most valuable resource, time, on the wrong investment. The knowledge they gain could be the torture that they were near the right path all along. Just one chair over, just one tweak away.

This line of YOLO (you only live once) is dangerous to entrepreneurs. It forces us to spend money recklessly trying to hit a moving target. At the same time, the less we commit to a single task, the more likely we are to fail. Many companies expand too far too fast, causing them to collapse. Saying that a company will trim non-essential tasks later is borrowing opportunity cost from the future.

All the while, during this crippling uncertainty, is the old 9-5 chair. The chair waits for us, promising a certain future. Come back, do what you know, and stop all the mental chatter. Focus on only the important things in your life, like family.

I know that chair has a flaw though, at least for me. It’s a cocoon, but still out in the wilds of free enterprise. That chair is no more secure than anything else in a capitalist society. Sure, you give up a part of your earnings for a common cause, but it’s no less prone to market swings than running your own business. In some ways, sitting in that chair is just alleviating yourself of blame. You didn’t lose the client contract, your boss did. You didn’t make the call to buy a piece of junk, your boss did. You didn’t set up the shifts, your boss did. Regardless of the reasons, the outcome is the same.

I believe that being an entrepreneur is more responsible, because I alone am to blame. I am willing to not shift my blame to higher ups. I am willing to commit to a result, not because of fear of losing my job, but because of trust in myself. I am an entrepreneur because even though I have the fear that I am doing things wrong, I trust myself to figure it out and work it out.