Many popular entrepreneurs talk about "hyper-focus" as a means to running a great startup, and they aren't wrong. But when life gets hairy, hyper-focus can simply seem unethical. It can seem like one is allowing the fires in their personal life to burn just to quench the ones in their startup life. This is something we, as a team, recently had to learn.
One of our key team members and co-founders requested time away to address a personal matter, and the impact exceeded any challenge we had experienced before. "Accepting" the request was a no-brainer, but to be blunt, we were scared.
To be honest, when I realized the gravity of the situation, I broke down and cried. I cried for the personal matter at hand, but then I cried again when I realized that our already difficult road just got that much harder, and the odds against us may have just doubled. In that moment I felt powerless.
Be as honest with your emotions as possible.
I needed to understand why I was scared and why I felt the way I did. After some momentary soul-searching, I came to the discovery that I questioned my own personal ability to overcome the situation as a CEO. I realized just how much I relied on my team member, not just as an executor, but as a confidence buffer and emotional safety-net. Finding the truth in your emotional reactions is the quickest way to look at what you need to do next.
I did my best to articulate the matter in a way that was transparent without triggering a full-house panic attack (like I had experienced earlier).
Gather, discuss, and reassess.
When you're in an early-stage startup like ours, roles and responsibilities aren't always as clearly defined. Which means that too often the best way to see somebody's impact is when they aren't there. That was our biggest fear. We took the time to have meetings, discuss the issues, and reassess our roles. We covered our bases and were able to fill in the gaps, doing our best to be honest about everyone's capabilities and capacity to takeover the new tasks up for grabs.
While we redistributed some tasks, we realized that some things were going to need to be outsourced or contracted out. While taking the time to find and vet this newly outsourced help can be time-consuming, we found it essential to maintaining our "well-oiled machine."
This entire experience has conveyed to us just how much we need to take advantage of the moments in our life where we can focus solely on our company, but even more so, it's helped us create an organization that is more enduring than any one employee, myself included.