Co-Founders & ambitious employees
Matt Quinn (2 time non technical co-founder, several startup employee and 2x corporate sell out)
Know your limits
2 years ago now, I sat down to meet someone trying to hire me and as she enquired about a recent string of startup experiences, I welled up.
I had a lump in my throat. I tried to explain what I felt to be an embarrassing set of experiences I had been through with some teams.
After comforting me, she gave me this nugget of wisdom:
“It’s not what we do that disappoints us, but what we allow to be done to us”
She absolutely nailed it and this tidbit has created the backbone for the model I espouse on eating sh*t.
Whether intentional or not, people are going to try and get you to eat sh*t your whole career.
Slippery slopes do in fact exist and we need to create a barrier to prevent being pushed down one.
You tell yourself, “I will not be spoken to a certain way”, “I will not work late nights”, “I will not take calls on holiday”.
But then whadya know - it’s just a small thing, just an email, just a call and you’ve forgotten your values, and allowed others to influence you in a way in which you are disappointed with yourself.
I have been through the pain and learned to build barriers this way so that you do not have to.
Those that know me intimately are aware, I let one situation imposed on me get so out of hand that I started having heart issues and had to wear a 48 hour heart rate monitor to try and diagnose the issue.
The trigger for what felt like a heart attack? An aggressive slack message from a toxic founder I used to work with/for.
My process of eating sh*t taught me after every mouthful, that I did not want to eat that again.
It effectively let me learn an anti-pattern to work. One in which I had scar tissue which empowered me to put my foot down on what I would not accept. Now the great news is - this has made me a force to be reckoned with in my opinion.
In my current role, I interact with many employees who have no strength to stand up to bullies or to not tolerate things they dislike, but most importantly to advocate for themselves with agency.
The bad news is the pain that I had to go through to get to this point.
I appreciate me saying “know your limits” isn’t all that helpful, so what I suggest people do who want to build barriers is this.
Imagine yourself in an intolerable situation. Write it down. Write down why it is intolerable. And write down what you’re going to do about it.
Most of the time, the only action needed is to speak up.
I personally do this in my year end review and goal setting exercise but if you have never done it before. Do it as and when you need.
By building out these rules, you are actually creating a schema so that you won’t need strength to carry out the task, you can do it on auto-pilot.
Some examples of situations you may want to model for:
Don’t let someone feed you sh*t at work. Work out just how much sh*t you think you could eat, write down what too much looks like, and enjoy your career.