Building a company without losing yourself.

start a business without losing yourself

Five and a half years ago I started Cubicle Ninjas and I poured my soul into every action, ever so gleefully. Living eighteen hour days, within seven day work weeks, was not only expected, but to dream otherwise began to feel downright selfish. This absolute obsession (along with a brilliant creative team and oodles of luck) provided the momentum we needed to survive and grow into a thriving studio.

This year I decided to take a breath. And when my eyes adjusted to sunlight I had a creepy thought: where do I begin and this amorphous pile of legal papers end?

Somewhere along the way Josh, the human being, atrophied.

I stopped trying to read fiction because I needed to run payroll. My desire to balance the books overpowered my desire to hug my dying childhood cat. My wife and I never had to codify the unspoken rule that we worked all throughout the weekend. I collected 100 domains for projects that would exist only in my mind. And I put my comics on the back burner due to an unending avalanche of other people’s urgencies.

Each of these failures was a medal of personal shame. Soon the blushing subsided, as Josh was taken control of by the shambling lich called LLC. The pressure of responsibility had seeped into my being. It’s sickly funny, I don’t have children with my brilliant wife of nearly ten years because I’m fearful of the gravity, yet somehow I now run a company where I’m responsible for two dozen lives. Irony. It seems like the verdict is in. Would I change anything if I could go back in time?

My point: Hell no.

When I was a kid I desperately wanted to go on a vision quest. Testing the limits of our reality felt like the most noble way to find truth. Most business blogs speak in easy to shallow logic like “Run your business, don’t let it run you.”. But where is the life altering experience in that? Congrats, you only gave it 70% and will never truly know what your best is. When everything was on the line, you couldn’t be bothered to slightly inconvenience yourself or those around you. If you can’t muster up the passion to sacrifice for your own business, how could you ask others to?

Losing myself allowed me to find out who I really am. I lost it all in Zen-like marathon to help others. Now I can re-explore the human being I’d like to be, with fresh eyes and renewed vigor.