#2 - All News is Good News
Failing badly, time to build, and a lesson from the Romans
Last week brought the announcement that the UK is going back into lockdown, and with it the forced cancellation of our November bookings.
Overnight our revenue went to zero.
You know what? Good.
In this weekly email I share the lessons learnt from launching Unplugged. There are plenty startup bumps and mishaps but also reflections on finding space in life and why it matters.
Above: Boris announces the new lockdown
I very nearly failed University.
A half-assed first year turned into a beyond-a-joke second year.
Any mark below 40 out of 100 was a fail; my average for the whole year was 42.5. Ouch.
Remarkably I only had one resit that summer. Yet I did not learn my lesson.
After a month of procrastination I woke up at 4am before the exam for some last minute cramming. Fail this exam and my time at University was over.
F**k- I thought. I’m actually going to fail this.
I passed. Somehow.
In hindsight I suspect there was some lenient marking for the resits. Someone took pity on the reprobates spending their summers in exam halls.
This car crash of a year turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. It was the final kick up the backside I needed to start figuring out my life. Off the back of this I got my act together and ended with a 1st in the Final Year and a not-unrespectable 2.1 overall.
Why am I telling you this? Good question.
It highlights a lesson I’ve learnt over and over again in my short life: “bad news” often leads to the best results.
Had I achieved a less appalling mark in 2nd year, the over compensation would not have come. I’d have faced another year of poor performance.
Which brings me to now, and Unplugged.
This summer we got off to a slow start. We underestimated how hard it was to get people booking and launched to crickets.
Not deterred, it took us two months of hard work before we finally cracked it. The trickle of bookings became a stream.
Until last week.
Last week the UK went back into lockdown. This meant the cancellation of our November bookings. Many of these moved to December/January but there’s further uncertainty ahead.
This news is uncomfortable; uncertainty always is.
Yet as the discomfort wore off I started to draw similarities with that summer resit. This, as with all “bad news”, is an excellent excuse to get productive.
Actually, it’s a bit of a relief.
I have an extensive list of things to sort at the cabin and now have the time to do it. It’s also a great chance to figure out how accounting works and whether we’ve broken any laws there yet.
What a wonderful motivator to get to work. I struggle with urgency. Too much meditating. The pressure applied by a new lockdown is a welcome injection of stress.
Good news all round!
The kicker here is that all news is good news if you so decide.
There’s a wonderful idea in Stoicism: Amor Fati- a love of fate.
Love whatever fate throws at you.
No situation is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
We have an intrinsic negative bias that developed as a tool to protect us from danger 50,000 years ago. Today it just leads to anxiety and stress.
Choosing to see the good in every situation is not easy but it is possible.
If we can the world becomes full of wonder and opportunity. There are countless reasons to worry; from social media to the news, we’re bombarded.
It takes cutting out the noise to see it for what it is: noise. With a clear head we’re free to choose how to process the world around us.
Amor Fati indeed.