Founder Paralysis: An irrational (or rational) fear

Two days before I was due to fly to Liége to take part in the Wallifornia MusicTech Acceleration & Invest program, I was paralysed by an irrational—or rational—fear.

I was unable to get out of bed. For an extended time there was not enough energy or will to get up.

The night before I suffered through two terrible dreams.

The first was quite long but repetitive. I was meeting many people for the first time, and each time, they picked at me for not sharing more about myself. They were bored and frustrated that I refused to share details of my inner life and thoughts with them. They hated that I was private and introverted. I soon became surrounded by people, all verbally assaulting me, telling me my lowly worth.

The next dream was shorter. I was due to interview Colin Farrell via a phone call (Maggie Smith was also on the line for some reason). It became one of those instances where everything possible went wrong. My phone had no reception. It took a long time for a computer to connect to WiFi. GoToMeeting took a long time to load and ultimately failed to connect. I coordinated with Farrell via email to move the call to Skype.

By the time we finally connected I was 20 minutes late starting the interview. At one point I dozed off while he was answering and when I woke up he had hung up.

Everything about this opportunity went wrong. I knew how important this interview was, and yet there was seemingly nothing I could to stop this avalanche of small failures.

When I woke in the morning I was unable to get out of bed.

I began to rationalise that if I didn’t get out of bed, then I couldn’t fail. And if I didn’t fail I couldn’t be ridiculed, therefore, it felt safer to remain in bed.

I forced myself out of bed around noon as I was due to meet friends for a farewell lunch.

The feeling never left me. I even felt like I failed to resolve my response to the dream as I was still unable to give into the feelings that drove the paralysis.

But I did get up. I did fly half way around the world and spent the week in Liége and pitched Paperchain to investors and industry experts.

I’m typing this at Barcelona Airport on my way to Lisbon for a 3 week accelerator program before going to London for a month.

I don’t think I overcame the fear or the paralysis. I may never overcome it. But I did what I did.

What I did do was share this experience with others—something I may not have previously done. What I experienced was a common experience for many. Founders, artists, friends, my partner.

I may not have been unable to resolve the fear, but I now feel better about revealing my interiority to others.

It’s only the first step. Maybe that’s the lesson.