You find yourself cutting some corner. Something that you have to do. Maybe you pay an invoice a little late, maybe you make a design choice that’s expedient in lieu of being perfect.
Then, what happens, is you don’t get hired again. Maybe you don’t get caught but someone knows.
You have to work harder to sell the next thing. You get tired, because it’s so hard, and sloppy with a contract. A payment term gets overlooked. A feature gets left out.
You have to, of course, redo the work. This means you’re not profitable. So you can’t make the offer letter to the top talent. Because you don’t have the money.
It seems endless. Break-fix Requests coming in, you can’t triage fast enough.
You lay awake at night, turning in bed like a rotisserie chicken. You can’t breathe because you were so close. You replay conversations. You are the outside looking in at a slow train wreck.
You get fat. You get short with the people that love you. You bury your head. And stuff slips. A top employee asks for a raise. Because it’s a shit-show and to be part of it requires a premium. Nobody cares anymore because what’s the point of trying. All the work will be turned to ash. So why bother?
For a while, you still believe. That one big deal, one lucky break can save it all. Maybe it will, maybe you can. Sales cures all.
But that break never comes, and you can’t close with power because the lack of belief shines through your every action. You can’t close. You don’t even bother calling prospects anymore.
You should have quit a long time ago.
You fix it. A little bit at a time. With humility and hustle and empathy. You see where you are, and extract the drama from the data.
The struggle is real, but also, optional.