Don’t Act on Your Frustration

I recently caught up with an early-stage founder who’s building an interesting business. He had a setback recently and, understandably, is frustrated. Unfortunately, he publicly communicated his frustration with his business partner on social media. The partner was not pleased. The business is at a standstill.

Building a company is harder than most people realize. Setbacks are inevitable. Founders, like everybody else, react to setbacks emotionally—with anger, frustration, fear, etc. But those emotions can’t get in the way of the founder accomplishing their mission. Founders must figure out how to work around or through setbacks.

Over the years, I learned to acknowledge how I was feeling when I experienced setbacks. If I was especially worked up, I made a point of doing my best to avoid taking action until I’d calmed down. I found that talking the situation over with another entrepreneur—someone credible and level-headed—often helped, especially if they’d been in a similar situation.

This founder has put himself in a position where his mission could be jeopardized. His uncontrolled emotional reaction fractured a critical relationship. The emotion has dissipated and he regrets what he did, but he can’t take it back. He’s aware of that, and he’s trying to repair the relationship and overcome the setback. I’m sure he’ll figure things out, but this incident might materially slow down his execution and may have permanently weakened an important relationship.