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On Resilience


As it’s the time to wrap up 2018, I wanted to share my sincere thoughts on what seemed to me like the most important word of this year: Resilience.

Just to recap on some of the major events happened this year that are relevant to me: I’ve lost both my grandfather and step-grandfather along with my step-grandmother, Turkey-my home country-experienced a huge economic downturn (usd/try almost doubled, inflation is near 15-year high 25%), I unpleasantly left Codela and broke up with my girlfriend. 2018 was not fun, to say the least, but that’s all right. We should cherish mishaps the same way we cherish fortunate events, for without hardships we won’t grow. It’s similar to weightlifting. By lifting weights, you are actually causing tiny tears in the muscle fibers, which the body then repairs and adapts the muscles to better handle the stimulus that caused the damage.

The most important thing I’ve found out is that our understanding of resilience is completely wrong. Most books and advice I read define resilience as increasing one’s capacity to overcome difficulties by thickening our skin and marching on. And to be honest, I have been there. I went berserk and attacked all sorts of problems. The rush makes you feel like gladiator Maximus, fighting the just fight but you start losing sight. The more you rely on your “sword”, the less effective you become. On startup world, we have this stigma about “quitting” (The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say, “I didn’t quit.” Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things) but our stories lack dimension. Sometimes a relationship or a company is just unhealthy. And just like you can’t force love, you can’t force product-market fit. Being obsessively careful about the way things should be and fighting in all directions to prevent the collapse of this dream is a fool’s errand. And ultimately, resilience is not about endless allegiance but about arriving at a destination.