Founding a company is a sheer act of will and tenacity in the face of immense skepticism from everyone—investors, customers, friends, family, and employees, to name a few. Great founders live for chaotic moments. Anyone who can’t manage chaos and uncertainty, isn’t totally oriented for action, and has no sense of urgency, is in the wrong business.
Precisely, the environment of the dysfunctional family is quite similar to that of a start-up.
Who the heck are they, and where do they come from?
How do you find—or, better, create—individuals who operate serenely in chaos, and know when to punt, duck, or even run for cover?
How do you find people who can focus relentlessly for days on end, without being distracted by the noise around them? Are these skills teachable?
Those are some of the questions Steve Blank-a retired Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur-turned-educator at UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Columbia- ask in almost every class of entrepreneurs he teaches. And he says,” In this admittedly very unscientific survey of more than 1,000 students, I’ve found that between a quarter and half of those I consider “hard-core” entrepreneurs (working passionately to found a company) characterize their upbringing as less than benign. And lots of wildly successful founders I’ve met and worked with have acknowledged that they would have raised their own hands had they been in my classroom. “
In a dysfunctional family, while most children are hurt badly in the process, some whose brain chemistry and wiring is set for resilience come out of this with a compulsive, relentless, and tenacious drive to succeed.
But, beware. A word of Caution!
Your dysfunctional childhood may serve you well in some respects but not all. Think about the things you need to do to compensate for your upbringing.
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Adapted from “Dysfunctional Family? You’d Make a Great Entrepreneur”, Inc