There is already a wealth of advice columns, articles and interviews addressing the roller coaster ride of startup life and even more opinions on which traits are necessary for founders to cope with their pressure cooker environment.

Anyone who has tried to build a business will likely agree that it is a journey of extremes. There are highs and lows, sometimes within hours of each other. There is euphoria with every win and feelings of devastation when things don't go as planned.

To be honest, I think the "right" combination of traits varies from founder to founder, from team to team. Startup success is often the result of so many things finally going right that are completely dependent on that company's unique circumstances.

There are so many factors involved that it seems a bit naive to identify any single component as "the" trait that can guarantee success.

But I can say that for myself, if I could choose one trait as my superpower, it would be hope.

  • Hope fuels the imagination to dream up solutions that don't yet exist.
  • Hope rejects barriers to believe the impossible is within reach.
  • Hope silences the deafening noise of can't to hear opportunity.
  • Hope embraces pragmatism without believing in the finality of current difficulties.

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not to stop questioning." - Albert Einstein

  • Hope believes in the goodness of others when they are at their worst.
  • Hope believes in the goodness within ourselves when we are at our worst.
  • Hope searches for new opportunities when Plans A, B, C, D, and E fail.
  • Hope is the seed of resilience.

"Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good." - Viclav Havel

  • Hope requires courage and is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • Hope sees purpose in the midst of the darkest experiences.
  • Hope rises from the ashes of catastrophe to believe something good can still happen.
  • Hope focuses on the potential of the future, not on the failures of the past or present.

"Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality." - Jonas Salk

Without hope, we fail to pitch one more investor who might have said yes. We don't see the pivot that would have resulted in scale.

Without hope, when we are in the midst of transient frustrations, we can allow ourselves to believe the worst about our product, our team, our board, our investors, our network, our clients - which can result in rash decisions with permanent consequences.

Success is a maze of zigs and zags, pivots and persistence. Yes, all of those other things will need to go right to eventually succeed. But without hope, we allow discouragement to metamorphose into hopelessness.

Where hopelessness prevails, success cannot happen. That is why I pick hope as my superpower.