Being kind, charming and generous is easy for most of us when life is good. If time is abundant and there is plenty of money – if we're loved, connected and have a purpose, most of us can bring our A-game. It's not so easy when times are tough.
If we choose to be present in life, to be open to love and to strive for the things we want, we are going to meet disappointment – probably many times. And it can leave us feeling pain, sometimes physical – almost airless.
This may apply to you now – or in times ahead: as low as we can feel, this place down here on our knees is where we all learn who we really are. In the belly of disappointment, if you sit with your pain you'll discover resilience and courage quietly waiting there for you to rise again.
The greatest amongst us have failed and failed again; muscle fibre must be ripped to be rebuilt stronger – and so must you. You can choose victim or warrior, the choice is yours and will define how you face the days to come. Here, some ideas on handling disappointment and rising again.
Be Curious About Your Feelings
First thing's first. Get past the big three: blame, anger and righteousness, which we use to deflect pain like Wonder Woman's golden wristbands. Underneath those red hot emotions used to protect yourself, sits your warrior heart, tender – exposed and strong. Examine your feelings of shame, fear, rejection and despair; where do they come from? They hurt like hell, but they won't kill you. Unpack them, feel them; a lot of the sting will pass when you have examined the worst.
We put so much energy into not feeling raw and painful emotions, yet the quickest way to let them go is to stop resisting them.
This is not about dwelling in a dark place; this is about facing your fear and seeing it for what it is; the sooner you do, the sooner you'll take flight again.
Give Yourself A Reality Check
Drop the story and drama and look at the situation, devoid of your hot and heavy emotions. What has really happened? What is the real cost physically, emotionally, socially and financially? Get some distance from yourself and look at the situation objectively; you may not be able to see it yet, but good will come of this if you do not create a victim story.
Be really brave and write a benefit list; a list of 20+ benefits that will come from your experience. I know it sucks, I've done it myself, thrashing about yelling, “There is NO benefit!" Then I get over myself and often this one simple task is a turning point.
Vulnerability Is Strength
I don't see vulnerability as weakness; I see it as an extraordinary strength. When we accept and love ourselves – broken and flawed, big-hearted and hopeful – nothing can harm us. If you are feeling smashed and broken, open yourself to the warrior within – your strong heart is right there, fuel it with self-love. We all mess up – every single one of us, over and over again. The moment we stop trying to hide our mistakes we are free; it is the pretending that is exhausting. Take responsibility for every choice and every step you have made, do not choose victim.
When pain is known and self-love present, we can stand in the storm of anything. Vulnerability is strength, authenticity impenetrable.
Focus On The Silver Lining
Creativity and clarity are two benefits that come from failure and loss. If your back is against the wall and your resources and options limited, let go of panic and fear, focus on solutions and outcomes. Take your foot off the brake which is driven by fear, allow your clever, conscious brain to swing into action and start finding creative solutions. Your conscious brain is the happiest when it is problem-solving, but you must give it the space and oxygen to be brilliant. You must focus on what you want, not what you don't want.
You must focus on what you want, not what you don't want. Walk, dance, scream, cry – turn the music up and breathe in possibilities; the solutions are right there to be uncovered. Remember, clarity is a beautiful benefit that comes when we have screwed up or are in the rawness of loss. We stop caring what others think; there is a clarity that reminds us what is important and what is not.
By shedding the need to be presentable, right or perfect we discover what we want, who we are and what our purpose is, we realize that hitting rock bottom can be the greatest gift you'll ever receive. Easy is boring; the richness of life is felt when we experience it all. Exquisite joy, lust and love, the lonely depths of failure, the sickening feeling of regret and the soaring heights of success.
Choose warrior and out of the ashes you will rise: stronger, wiser, broken and beautiful.
We're here. We're queer. Now that it's pride month, it feels like every store and corporation is flooding us with their best rainbow merchandise, capitalizing on a $917 billion dollar consumer market.
The rainbow flags are out. The mannequins are sporting pride tees. And corporate newsletters are full of interviews showcasing all their queer employees ("Look, we have a gay person here! We GET you!").
To me, this is blatant evidence that the future is queer.
These corporations follow the money, and with 20% of millennials and 31% of Gen Z openly identifying as queer, these businesses have to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of LGBTQIA+ consumers. With a recorded market size of $917 billion dollars in 2016, and a growing interest in socially conscious brands among young consumers, this is clearly a market opportunity that corporations cannot afford to ignore.
However, I'm always surprised by how little attention investors and the entrepreneurial community devotes to this undeniable trend, despite being constantly inundated with overwhelming statistics proving the importance of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Only 2.2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2018, less than .1% of funding has been allocated to black women since 2009, and only about 1% of venture-backed companies have a black founder or Latinx founder. These statistics are over-quoted but underacted upon.
This gender and diversity inequality significantly hinders economic growth, since 85% of all consumer purchases are controlled by women, and startups with higher ethnic diversity tend to produce financial returns above their industry norm.
The data is clearly leading to one direction: investing in women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, veterans, immigrants, and other minority groups in entrepreneurship leads to higher revenue and better business results.
As data-driven and forward-thinking as this industry claims to be, we haven't caught up to the queer founders, particularly queer women, who are rethinking the future. These founders understand and speak to a generation of increasing numbers of LGBTQIA+ people whose market share will only continue to grow exponentially. VCs and investors are already behind the curve.
SoGal Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, is helping bridge this divide between queer women founders and investors with the launch of applications for the second annual Global Pitch Competition for diverse entrepreneurs. Hosted in 25+ cities across five continents, and culminating in a final global pitch competition and 3-day immersive educational bootcamp in Silicon Valley, this is the first and only globally-focused pitch opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs.
Startups that are pre-Series A (raised less than $3M) with at least one woman or diverse founder, apply here to pitch! The top teams selected from each regional round will join SoGal's final global pitch competition and bootcamp in Silicon Valley for guaranteed face time with dozens of top Silicon Valley investors, curated educational programming, unparalleled 1:1 mentorship, press exposure, and a chance to win investment capital.
Women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ founders: what's the best way to kick off pride? Apply to pitch!
Regional pitch rounds will be held August-November 2019; final pitch competition in Silicon Valley in February 2020. Details and additional cities to be announced.
SoGal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the largest global platform for diverse founders and funders in 40+ chapters across 5 continents; our mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship. SoGal Foundation's global startup competition represents the first and largest opportunity for women and diverse entrepreneurs and investors to connect worldwide. Join the SoGal community & follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.