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No One Else Even Took a Swing
It takes a hell of a lot to step up to the plate as a Founder, risk everything and take a swing. What we don't really comprehend when we're stepping up to the plate is that everyone else we know is in the stands. They are the fans, watching from afar — they aren't stepping up. They aren't willing to take on the risk like we are.
When we strike out, we feel the collective disappointment from all of those fans. We think about how we fell short of their expectations, and it's often impossible to not feel a sense of shame for that outcome.
What we don't contemplate, and what's most important, is that we were the ones who had the balls to step up to the plate and take a swing — not them. It doesn't matter how they feel because anyone can sit in the stands and watch from a distance — the true players suit up and get in the game. We shouldn't think twice about anyone who's never even taken a swing.
The True Players Don't Judge
When I see a fellow Founder take a swing and miss, I don't pass judgment — and neither do other Founders. We don't pass judgment because we know exactly what it's like to take that swing. We've missed so many times ourselves that it would not only be brutally hypocritical to cast judgment, it'd simply remind us of all the painful stuff we've gone through ourselves.
All of us had to separate ourselves from the people around us, the doubters, the haters, to even take a shot at this thing. We have so much collective respect for anyone that would join this insane journey that when one of us misses, we don't think about the miss, we think about the Founder.
We don't care about their miss — we think about how to get them back in the game. We think about how to strengthen and embolden that lesson to use it as ammunition for the next go around. We look for ways to speed up their path to recovery, and more so, to get them re-focused on doing it again.
Respect Comes From Playing, Not Just Winning
When we look around, there are so few of us who are willing to step up and single-handedly shape the world, to bend it to our will. Everything that exists in this world started with a Founder who was willing to break from the pack. Often those attempts fall short more of than they work until eventually, we get it right. But we don't stop — we reload.
You may be in this place as a startup yourself, and if you are, let me end with this:
This isn't your last startup. This is your last lesson for your next startup. You've already proven you have what it takes to be in this game — now step up again, and again, until you can also show you have what it takes to win. And as you do, know that you have the most powerful teammates in the world by your side — your fellow Founders — starting with me. Now let's get back out there.
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