By: Stefan Aarnio

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When I was 3 years old my father took me downhill skiing.


We rode the T-Bar up to the top of the hill and I was terrified. We were high off the ground and I didn’t want to ski to the bottom!


“If you get out of control, just fall down and roll to the side.” my father told me.


I didn’t understand why he was teaching me to fall before I knew how to ski.


“Just bend your knees and keep your skis straight and you will be ok”


Then he pushed me down the hill and I bent my knees and kept my skis straight.


I made it to the bottom alive, and the adrenaline rush was amazing, even for being 3 years old.


There are two lessons hidden in this story:


  • Keep you skis straight aka stick to the path and:
  • Know how to fall down. Fail fast and fail cheap.


Elon Musk once said that entrepreneurship was like eating glass and staring into the black abyss.


Oftentimes, entrepreneurs have to go for long periods of time with no pay, no encouragement, no gratification, and no light at the end of the tunnel. They have to stare into the blackness of the abyss for an indefinite period of time and bleed until they become profitable.


It can be a dark road and a lonely road.


Sometimes entrepreneurship can be a bloodbath in that you will likely lose every single person around you. You will lose friends, you may lose some family members, some entrepreneurs get divorced, you will lose employees, partners, investors, contractors and everyone on your team has a lifespan.


Eventually every single person will have to be replaced, nothing is forever.


But what is important is that you keep your skis straight, stick the course and make it to the bottom of the mountain alive.


Sometimes on your journey, you will crash and you will fall down. But if you know how to fall or fail the right way, you will be ok.


Fail fast and fail cheap they say. Roll when you hit the ground and get back up right away.


“Fall down 7 times, get up 8” says the ancient Japanese Proverb.
Some say success is how high you bounce after you hit the ground.


Some say success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.


I say success is getting what you want without ever giving up.


When you look at history, the people who always make it the biggest are simply the ones with the greatest lasting power. They just have the ability to stay in the game the longest and survive through all of the ups and downs of the market.


Sometimes entrepreneurship is a game of chicken or “who can hold their breath the longest without passing out”… Sometimes it’s smarter to cut your losses, take the remainder of your chips and get off the table.


Pick another table and play a different game.


Whether you choose to stay at your table or move to a new game, what is certain is uncertainty.


Inside the uncertainty is beauty and it reminds me of another piece of wisdom that my father taught me.


“When you find that everything is uncertain, you find certainty in the uncertain and there is comfort in that.”


Just remember to keep your skis straight and if you feel like you are out of control, fall down and roll to the side.


Thanks for reading,
Stefan Aarnio


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