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Diversify your identity.

I used to believe that Lumastic was going to be my life’s work. I thought that belief would somehow manifest its reality, but it just ended up making Lumastic my life.

So, to prove to myself and others I was going to see Lumastic through, I focused solely on it. I sacrificed growth in every other aspect of my life because of that decision. I stopped doing things I loved like making videos, playing music, and baking.

But more importantly, I stopped cultivating relationships with those closest to me. And with those I still was connected to, I began to act in ways I’m now ashamed of. I became transactional, self-centered, and hyper-fixated on my own success - sometimes at the expense of helping those closest to me.

And this deep, creative-entanglement between me and Lumastic led me to see failures in the business as failures of my life. The depression and trauma that came from rejection by customers, accelerators, etc. made me paralyzed to the process of building product.

I began avoiding performing vital business functions like talking to customers, checking analytics, and being transparent with our team about the issues I was experiencing - because the pain and overwhelming dread I would experience afterwards was terrifying.

I was in the darkest place of my life during this period. I didn’t know - and didn’t like - who I was anymore. That’s why I was so grateful when Keith recommended that we take a hiatus while I settled into a new job and he got married.

The time away from Lumastic allowed me to find myself again. I went surfing and snowboarding, I reconnected with old friends, I established my skills with some new coworkers, I built this personal blog, I started going to therapy, and I had some new product ideas. By taking a break from Lumastic, I learned who I was without it - and I’m building systems in my life to never lose that again.

Reestablishing my identity has quelled the pain, shame, and guilt I experienced when I thought about Lumastic. I used to feel like such a failure and thought that all the time everyone put in to help me was for nothing.

However, through conversations with advisors and people on the team, I realized that was just a story my anxiety was telling in my head. In reality, this experience gave us so much more than I ever thought possible. What I’m walking away with is so much greater than what I’m leaving behind.

If anything, I’ve learned the importance of diversifying my identity. Staying centered, balanced, and curious could have saved me from a lot of pain. In the future, I never want to feel so attached to a project that losing it feels like losing my life again. Nothing is worth that.

Note: This is part of a larger blog series on 10 Things I Learned From My First Failed Startup. Checkout the rest of the series and tweet your thoughts at me.

Drew Lyton
Drew Lyton
Friday, February 4, 2022

I'm a software engineer, ex-founder and writer who cares deeply about creating a better relationship between technology and society. I'm currently writing a book about early stage entrepreneurship.


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