People think I’m living the dream. Dropped out of college at 19. Recruited immediately by a German startup. Moved to Munich for a few months. Settled in Penang, Malaysia — one of the best places to live in the world. Became a full-time writer on Medium. Became a successful bitcoin day trader. Built my own trading bots to do all the successful trading for me. And now, I’m starting my own little web and app development agency. It’s quite the story.
But I hear none of the praise. Because I know things about this journey that no one else does. For example, I was picking food out of the trash in Germany to save all the cash I could. And for many years in Penang, I lived in a super toxic environment: My family. That took years off my lifespan. Seriously, it was that bad. Plus, to make my first trading bots, I had to work such long hours that I practically lost all my friends. Every single one. The only person left was my sister. She had no choice but to bump into me every now and then around the house. Overall, you could make the case that the cost outweighed the reward.
And that’s nothing compared to now. Now, I barely eat. Hell, I barely sleep during bad weeks. And socializing? Forget it. Haven’t been to a restaurant in months. I barely do anything but work. And rest — so I can do more work. For the past 2 weeks, my company’s been negotiating one software contract while completing another. At the same time, I moved into my own apartment. And began active development of my next major bot release. And while all this was happening, I’ve been publishing two articles per day: One tech article, and one story like this one. And I started publishing daily vlogs on YouTube a week ago.
During a seven-minute break this afternoon, I was thinking about all this. Mentally flipping through all the chapters of pain I’ve written. And I realized something. The most important trait for success as an entrepreneur like me? It’s not intellect, money, or skill. It’s simply pain tolerance.
You need to be able to take a tremendous beating just to survive long enough for something to happen. Not even a good thing. Just something. Because these things take time. Employees aren’t trained overnight. Customers trickle in slowly. Take it from me: You can only expedite it to a certain extent. Sure, you can make things 2x faster. But that means it’s 4x more painful. Do you have what it takes to do that? Can you even make that choice when you’re responsible for a whole team?
Pain tolerance is the greatest gift you can have if you want to start your own thing. Because without it, it’s almost impossible to keep going. I mean, this journey is brutal. The capacity for damage is endless. So if you want to play the game, hunker down and get ready for the storm.
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