“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.” – Maya Angelou
It’s a crisp fall day. You know that biting cold that just breaks through a fall jacket. The grass is perfectly groomed. It smells like Saturday morning when you were 12-years-old. The energy from the soon-to-be-filled stadium is palatable. You’ve been here before! You’ve got this!
That’s how it must feel to be a professional football player. At times I can envision me being that guy. The star. If I had only grew quicker. If I dealt with rushing passers better. If I didn’t clam up under any pressure whatsoever.
Chances of me making it as a pro football player were slim to none, but it would have been possible. Other sports I never had a chance at. Horse jockey. Women’s tennis. Synchronized swimming. (I could have made a go at it, but I have a hole in my eardrum… bummer.)
There are things you just cannot do and things you can do. Not everyone will be president, but everyone can be an entrepreneur. Running a business. Selling a product online. Providing a unique service. These aren’t pursuits available to a chosen few.
I listen to a ton of podcasts. A common narrative that I’m hearing lately is that not everybody can be an entrepreneur. Like it’s some unique fraternity of a chosen few risk takers and Silicon Valley stars.
Here’s the typical script. First, the guest will say what they suck at. Typically it will be something entirely unrelated to their ostensibly ‘out-of-this-world’ talent. Something like, ‘I suck at spelling, I really do. But I can sell a winter jacket to someone in Ecuador. I’m just that awesome at what I do. I really am incredible. But I do suck at spelling.’
It’s not lost on me that some people have a greater propensity for risk. Some have a can’t-lose attitude. Some aren’t scared of losing it all. Granted, these traits make it easier to cope with the challenges of running your own business, but they do not preclude anyone else from being a successful business owner.
I’m ranting because this is an important point. The world is changing. We are now in the midst of a creative economy. As Daniel Pink highlighted (in his eye-opening book ‘A Whole New Mind’) abundance, Asia and automation have changed the game. We North Americans can no longer count on secure jobs. Fat pensions. Stable work.
As much as you may want to avoid risk. The risk is there. It’s unavoidable. It’s that torrential downpour that you can’t wait out. The kind that you just need to plow through or you’ll never make it home.
You need to take your lumps. You need to face your demons. Reality is not only that you can chase your dreams, it’s that you have no choice.
Today’s economy favors unique talent. People who make amazing portable cajones (drums) that you can sit on (shout-out to my bro). People who design apps that use your chakras you map out the best way to work. People who make things that can’t be manufactured in the millions.
The good news is that each and every one of us has unique talents. The unique aspects of our perspective, personality, genetics, that only WE possess.
Who am I to tell you that you cannot be what you want? How can I even begin to understand the trillions of events that have shaped your life? I can’t. No one can. That’s why no one can say that you can or cannot be an ‘entrepreneur’. That you can or cannot chase what’s important to you.
Yeah (if you start a business) failure is always a risk. But so is standing still. So is waking up in the morning in what you think is a stable career. Many have said, ‘You may as well fail at something you love than fail at something you hate.’ I’ll take it one step further: I would rather risk failing at something I love than be a raging success at something I despise. Because if you succeed at something you hate, is that winning? No amount of cars in your driveway will bridge that unhappiness trench.
Don’t allow others to treat their success as an unreachable plateau. You have a power in you that is beyond anybody’s comprehension. And when you funnel your energy into what you love, magic happens. Regardless of what a shitty speller wishes you to believe.
“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world – to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.” – Ayn Rand (Quick note: my using her quote by no means acts as an endorsement of her beliefs)