On Guilt and Self-Discovery

"All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone."

— Blaise Pascal

This essay is a summary of an offline gathering organized by my dear friend and VC-colleague, Fabricio Pettená. This past Thursday in São Paulo, we heard a special talk by Doctor Marisa Volonterio, a Taoist Monk and Chinese Medicine Doctor that helps several VCs and founders cope with their challenges in the strenuous road of self-discovery and decacorn making.

Over the last three months, as I stayed in Brazil during a portion of my quarantine, Fabricio and I shared memorable conversations about life, its meaning, and why we do what we do. I appreciate his friendship.

Dr. Marisa is quite an interesting character. Brutally honest and a fierce practician of radical candor, she seems the right person to help founders and investors.

Here is the summary of what we discussed for about two hours and how you might make your life a bit more peaceful as a founder and/or investor.

1. No guilt

Guilt will always stay on your way as you try to be a better person for yourself, your clients, and your loved ones. We have all made mistakes, violated universal moral standards, or simply put, "effed up".

Start by forgiving yourself.

Do not live under remorse or shame as it is disadvantagous to struggle between the ego and the superego. Ultimately, with guilt, your road to self-discovery will be slower.

God is not a punisher.

Simply put, there are Universal laws of cause and effect.

Work towards their understanding and if you fall, pick yourself up again and continue to move forward.

We can remain stagnant, but we can't ever move backward.

2. No shortcuts

In life, there are no shortcuts. If you want to achieve something extremely difficult, get the recognition, the money, the partnership, change the world, etc it all starts small.

I appreciate Jordan Petterson's rule of cleaning up your room before you try to change the world. It is logical and respectful. You can't IPO your company if your room is a mess.

Organization, habits a routine and discipline are paramount, so you too can win against the dragons and demons of human existence in the earth-plane.

“What goal justifies the suffering of your life? Start putting that together”, he says.

3. Keep your physical health

This is a fundamental point towards peace and an integrated life with The Universe.

A healthy body is fundamental for a healthy mind. Marisa's approach is to start 90 days with no sugar at all. Unfortunately, I am not ready for such a challenge, but I have lost over 15 pounds in the last three months, am finally sleeping over 7 hours a night, and have reduced my alcohol consumption to almost zero.

Regulating stimulants and alcohol has been magical.

Make sure you are always taking care of your physical body.

4. You are never alone, but the road to evolution happens in solitude

The most important realizations I had about human existence happened when I was by myself, either meditating, reading, writing, listening to music, etc.

Self-discovery is getting naked with yourself.

Self-discovery is hard and necessary.

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