I recently finished a great book by Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. The book was about startups, and about what he calls, “The Struggle”. It’s great how he weaves hip hop into the book, from lyrics he has found powerful over time to describe his trials and tribulations (understatement of the year) in getting to where he is today (which is a really really successful entrepreneur/investor). But as I was reading it, and talking to my grandfather about life, I think I came to a powerful realization- this “Struggle” that entrepreneurs refer to, it’s not just in business. These skills are those that transcend time, place, situation, and they just help you deal with life. The Struggle is really just another word for life. I think if we live long enough, we come to see “The Struggle”. I know my grandfather knows “The Struggle”. He has to learn how to walk in Copenhagen and he’s half blind (worried he’s going to be killed by bicyclists- valid worry, they are pretty crazy over there). I know my parents know “The Struggle” (insert immigrant parent story here). I know anyone who has kids knows “The Struggle” (holy crap I just don’t know how they do it, even more power to single mothers). I know anyone who has any sort of debilitating illness knows “The Struggle” (it’s impressive what the human psyche can accomplish, I have seen it first hand). Anyone who has faced any sort of harassment knows “The Struggle” (human beings can be cruel, cruel people).
Putting it in context, I suppose the entrepreneurship struggle prepares young nerds with what this thing called life throws their way. It’s part of the Struggle. And the funny thing about The Struggle is that it’s like Parkinson’s Law. In that, the more you have, the more you can take. And the less you have, it’s impressive how that nothingness seems to expand and take all of your time and space in your head. Over seemingly pointless things. I guess what I”m trying to say is that we all NEED “The Struggle”. And if we don’t have some sort of Struggle in our lives, we create The Struggle. And the more important The Struggle we think is, the more we learn how to deal with the other things in our lives. And it gives us confidence. The more Struggle we have early on, the more we can look back and say, oh wait. I’ve seen this before- it’s called The Struggle. And guess what, I won last time. I think I can do it again.
Maybe the point is to gain as much confidence points as early as possible from different types of Struggle, because the later we get in life, the scarier and more life or death The Struggles become. It’s sort of like simulator training maybe. Enders Game style. Except just like in Enders Game, you don’t get to practice. This is the real deal.
Life is what happens when you’re making other plans, right?