Crisis of Identity in Startup Founders

Do not let the roles you play in life make you forget who you are.

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It’s getting clearer to me how almost unidentifiable founders are from their startups.

Founders’ sense of worth and identity is tied to their startup. They become one. And, there are ways in which that serves them and there are ways in which that comes with a price.

A lot of Founders just want to talk with a coach about what’s really going on for them and feel emotionally met. They don’t feel that way by their boards. They don’t feel that way by the people that work for them. And with their co-founders, they don’t feel that way. They don’t have anybody in their life whom they can be real with.

The race for smart money, smart network, and smart everything bends you towards “be who they want me to be” instead of “bring my real self to the table”.

In this case, coaching evolves into a blend of active listening supported by occasional questioning. Because this is what a founder who identifies herself with her startup needs.

I was always a strong believer in Keynes’ famous: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Every coaching case is unique and therefore shall be met & treated as such.

When founders feel heard and transform into their real selves, they can switch the helicopter view on and consider the next steps.

Great founders in addition to hiring a coach, tend to cultivate an advice network to help them make critical decisions and feel heard.

If you want to become a great founder you might want to consider the following first – you are a winning team, not a family. You should have high expectations for performance and delivering results. Yes, you are stronger together so it is better to focus on what unites you as a team, and not what divides you. At the same time, every single team member as well as you as a founder should continually earn their seat at the company.

This will help you detach from your startup and start considering it as a self-propelling rocket – in fact, just one of those many rockets you can build.

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