Understanding ‘The Struggle’

I’m reading The Hard Thing About the Hard Things by Ben Horowitz -- the co-founder of the venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. It is an excellent read – especially for any new or aspiring entrepreneur.  I wasn’t able to connect the dots on how the hip hop references were related (and I’m quite a hip hop fan myself; east coast mainly), but otherwise I found the topics and advice invaluable.

‘The Struggle’ is a particularly poignant part of Ben’s book. ‘The Struggle’ is challenging because being an entrepreneur is an “all in” experience – at least for those with any hope of success. But this phrase – ‘The Struggle’ – is overly negative in my view. For me being an entrepreneur has been more of a “visceral” or “raw” experience. The lows are deeply painful, but the highs are intensely fulfilling. This is what Ben says about ‘The Struggle’:

“The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place.

The Struggle is when people ask you why you don’t quit and you don’t know the answer.

The Struggle is when your employees think you are lying and you think they may be right.

The Struggle is when food loses its taste.

The Struggle is when you don’t believe you should be CEO of your company.

The Struggle is when you are in over your head and you know that you cannot be replaced.

The Struggle is when everybody thinks you are an idiot, but nobody will fire you.

The Struggle is where self-doubt becomes self-hatred.

The Struggle is when you are having a conversation with someone and you can’t hear a word they are saying because all you can hear is the Struggle.

The Struggle is when you want the pain to stop.

The Struggle is unhappiness.

The Struggle is when you go on vacation to feel better and you feel worse.

The Struggle is when you are surrounded by people and you are all alone.

The Struggle has no mercy.

The Struggle is the land of broken promises and crushed dreams.

The Struggle is a cold sweat.
The Struggle is where your guts boil so much that you feel like you are going to spit blood.

The Struggle is not failure, but it causes failure.  Especially if you are weak.  Always if you are weak.

Most people are not strong enough.

Every great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg went through the Struggle and struggle they did, so you are not alone.  But that does not mean that you will make it.  You may not make it. That is why it is the Struggle.

The Struggle is where greatness comes from.”

‘The Struggle’ is indeed where “greatness comes from”. But being an entrepreneur and living ‘The Struggle’ is, however, so much more. It is also a profoundly liberating experience; a world open to unrestrained creativity – confined only by physical boundaries. It is a place that can literally change the world. It is even a place that can be personally rewarding even in the face of commercial failure.

If we’re going to call it ‘The Struggle’, I know Ben and I can agree on this – Embrace the Struggle.