What does a company owe you? What does a business partner owe you? What does anyone else owe you?
Sometimes you give so much of your time, energy, and perhaps even youth to a venture, only to see it fail. Or sometimes you see it flourish and thrive into a company you no longer recognize and you’re left having to figure out if you should stay or go. And often this leads to bitterness, to thinking that you’re owed something. But what exactly do you feel you are owed? I have felt that I deserved more money, more recognition for my efforts, and definitely more respect for all the sacrifices I’ve made to get this or that company to this place. But it’s a myopic view. Because most companies are more than a single person. And we have a natural bias to overvalue our contributions and undervalue the contributions of others. But more importantly, we also forget the personal aspect of all the sacrifice made. Our energy, efforts, skills aren’t fixed or limited resources. If anything they grow, develop and sharpen from use, especially from difficult problems and challenges. We’re looking at the company that has changed but we forget to look at how we, ourselves, have also changed. And even though it may be hard to look past that bitterness (more likely disappointment), if we were to look at ourselves in a more honest and kinder way, we’d see that we probably received more than we expected. Even horrible situations, missteps or what we want to think of wastes of time, when plotted on a long enough timeline become small blips in a larger story and pepper our experience with obstacles to have been overcome and lessons to have been learned. And we are better for it.
Companies come and go, but our experiences? Those are our own. And where we take what we’ve learned… well you owe yourself the chance to find out, don’t you?