Reducing the amplitude

When my first company started moving just the chance that a big sale was closing would make me ecstatic. I’d instantly text Meghan some Kanye lyric and walk around the rest of the day like I was named king of the world. I’d get both excited and nervous and it’d last for a while after the sale closed.

The opposite happened when I would lose a customer. I’d be depressed for 2-3 days or until I got the next hint of a sale. If this was any kind of indication of how people with bipolar disorder go through life, then they’re a hell of a lot braver than I. I was constantly chasing that next sale because in some weird way I needed it to validate myself, not just my business but, me personally. This may be a part of my inability to have any semblance of work-life balance.

After building to what seemed its crescendo in the spring of 2015, the amplitude of these peaks and valleys began to shrink. Now I wouldn’t get nearly as excited for each sale, but I also wouldn’t get nearly as down when faced with the natural churn of my business. In a very real way, I was becoming numb to the shifts in my company. At first this seemed amazing. I wasn’t nearly as stressed and I must have become more pleasant to be around because I can’t count the number of times Meghan said something to the effect of

I’m so glad you’re doing what you love, you just seem happier.

The problem was that this continued. I had quickly become numb to and, disinterested in, my business. You know, the thing that was roughly half-responsible for putting food on our table. I spent months just going through the motions and because of this the firm suffered. I had emotionally flatlined.

Looking back on it, the thing that got me out of my funk was taking some time away. I began spending time on a new project that I really loved (Launch League) and while working on it, I’d find my mind periodically wandering back to the Tech Lab and OSC. By balancing my new projects with my older ones I’m able to take enough time away from them to come back almost completely fresh. I’d imagine this effect is similar to what professors who take a sabbatical experience.

I’ve spoken to a number of founders about this amplitude thing and it seems like it’s a pretty common theme. While my goal initially was to lower the peaks and boost the troughs, I found that I could go too far and it was almost as bad as being amped up. I’ve since found a happy medium through running multiple projects at once and it seems to be working.