First time entrepreneurs (especially if they are bootstrapping) have a first hand experience in this – they willingly step back before moving forward. I have a personal experience too. I remember this clearly – When I co-founded CIGNEX five years ago (66% pay cut, lifestyle changes, smaller office and a ton of uncertainty) everyone would say that it was a risky step and the timing was not right. They were right on both fronts – it was risky to put my life savings and we were entering a period of recession (of course, I didn’t know that then.) If I look back today and ask if the experience was worth it – I won’t blink an eye before saying “YES.” What I was able to learn as an entrepreneur and building a what I became because of this experience would never have come if I continued in my previous jobs.
Life will continue to present opportunities that may not look good in the short term but may be the best thing to happen to you in the long term. The wisdom is to spot those opportunities and be willing to make those sacrifices in the short term to get ahead in the long run.
My friend and mentor – Tim Sanders, talks about such an experience in his book “Love is the killer app.” Tim got recruited by Mark Cuban for his startup company Broadcast.com for a startup salary (way below what he was making.) Sanders looked at the long-term possibilities of working with Cuban and growing. Long story short – Broadcast.com was sold to Yahoo! for around $5B in a few years and Sanders, I am sure was very happy with his earlier decision.
Talk to people who you think have made it and ask them if they had to step back sometime in their life before reaching the heights they reached – you will be surprised how many will answer in the positive.