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When to let go (of projects, business partners & else)

eCommerce lessons from Japana

hasta la vista baby when to let go


I am a huge believer in people and their good intentions. I give credit of trust straight away, but once you lose it – you’re on your own. This, however, has its downside.
I clung for far too long to certain projects and people, hoping things will change. I’ve done the job which was supposed to be done by others, accepting excuses and postponing decision of letting those people go.

In day-to-day life I have no problem with making choices. I either like something or I don’t. I buy something or I don’t.
In my relationships, whether business or personal, I try to be fair, reliable and bold honest, even if the truth (my perception of truth) – will hurt the other person. I expect the same from others. But things don’t always go as I wish.

Many years ago, I helped a friend sorting his life situation and as a return he broke my heart and accused me of his failures.
We met in a secondary school in Poland and became close friends. He is gay and in his small town where he comes from, tolerant wasn’t exactly the word to describe his surroundings. I convinced him to come to London, let him stay at my place, got him a job through a friend of mine (it was a basic job at coffee place but enough to stand on your own) and introduced to my friends. I considered him a brother I never had. And excused him all these times where we made plans and he cancelled them last minute because he was on the hunt. This idyll lasted for nearly two years until he got an office job by fucking his future manager. He suddenly felt more important, more secure. He cut himself completely from his old friends, including me and J. He told us that he doesn’t need us anymore. I should have known that he is using me but I let it happen anyway.
Instead of opening my eyes, I let it go on and on and even after the break up, I sought problems in myself – maybe I was too pushy?

We haven’t spoken for many years, until last year I decided to write to him and wish him a happy 30th birthday. He saw the message but he did not reply.

Around that time, I also made few bad business decisions, one involving working full-time and spending more than two years on building something which had no validation on the market and basically no future. I was building my first tech startup, Evoque – something like a LinkedIn for PR and Media, but powered with machine learning for semantics analysis. Long story short, I spent way too much money, time and nerves on hiring and outsourcing to developers whose code I could not test or verify for quality (I’m not that technical).
I did not want to let go of my baby, even though I knew I was struggling for way too long. It was making me miserable. Everyone was progressing with their careers, getting promoted, and I was spending money on something which was neither financially successful nor personally motivating (not anymore).

Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
―Ann Landers

Few years later, I had to let go of my business partner in Japana. We’ve been great friends prior to starting it but for personal reasons my ex-business partner could no longer commit as much time as she should have, making me pulling way too many hours and questioning sense of keeping Japana alive. It was tiring and turning toxic so I had to make hard choices. Otherwise, I would have turned crazy (or maybe I have had anyway).

 Sésame, ouvre-toi

I realised that what works now, may not work in the future, that’s why you should always protect yourself and seek plan B. It’s the same thing with business or romantic relationships. People’s paths cross and draw away and sometimes it’s just not meant to be. Your’s and the other party’s priorities change. Forcing yourself to stay makes it pointless and hurtful.
I understand why people get divorced and I believe most often than not, it’s a mature decision. The key is to take responsibility into raising the kids (if there are any) together, to grow loving, sensitive people.

Letting go a tiring and toxic romantic relationship with your current partner or your business partners/clients will give you more time to spend for yourself to recover and recuperate your energy. It will hurt at the beginning, but like with almost every break-up, once you close one door, another opportunity opens. And usually it’s a way better one.

Over the years I’ve also come to realise that while experimenting with a number of projects is good, you need to set tight deadlines to know when to stop working on some. Stick with those that are the most promising, the most thrilling ones. I don’t say yes to each collaboration request to avoid confrontation and then suddenly vanish / stop responding to emails or calls. Yet, I see that happen in many senior management of well-respected companies. Empty promises.

Simplify your life, share your knowledge and compassion generously, and always communicate what you feel to avoid future disappointments. I know, easier said than done, but life is about making choices, often the hard ones. It fosters growth and lets you see things in a new light.

If you commit to something, put some effort. If you don’t want to do it – just say it right away. How much time people would have saved each other if they followed that rule…

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