October 30th, 2016
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I understood his situation all too well. I found it nearly impossible to escape my identity as a founder. I built a narcissistic fortress around that identity. It’s the inescapable pending doom scenario. Money will run out, investors won’t continue to write checks, slowing growth, big companies will sue us to the point of oblivion, founders kill each other, you name it–somehow the founder has to step in to do whatever it takes to save the company from splitting at the seams.
I am an insomniac. I’ve been an insomniac since I was 12 years old. When you are perpetually dealing with quasi crises your insomnia becomes an order of magnitude worse. Your thoughts become relentless.
Enter Mr. Sandman. I was prescribed sleeping pills for my insomnia. The pills helped me sleep, but it was all a haze. I was perpetually hungover from the prescribed pills. So what do you do when you wake up every morning with a hangover? Take stimulants of course. In fact, our whole team was taking pills to get an edge.
Downers to sleep and stimulants to be awake. I lost 25 pounds of muscle. My nervous system was a mess from the yo-yo’ing of these antagonizing chemicals in my blood stream. I was a wreck.
As the challenges of running the company amassed I became more and more isolated as I became more deeply whetted to the outcome of my startup. I became more dependent on the sleeping pills not just to sleep, but also to allow me to check out every night — a brief respite from my problems, my situation, my drama. Narcissism had turned me into a pill popper.
We do this when we have tunnel vision — we become our success and failures. We build glass castles to show the world how great we are and with one whiff of misfortune the castles turn into a personal prison of sorts. One moment you are a success, the next you are languishing in the cocoon of your circumstances and failures.