- Sep 6, 2017
Damn. That nailed me.So, there’s a couple of common themes and lessons here. First…
WTF is Business, Anyway?
In the end business is just a financial strategy — A method of generating income where the entrepreneur has more control over the variables that determine his financial well-being than if it were to come from the traditional route of employment.
Business isn't an end-all be-all. I have accepted that someone can still become happy, healthy and wealthy from other routes. If you look up the fatFIRE community on reddit, you'll see that business only becomes a topic of interest when people with traditionally high-paying careers hit an income ceiling and can't go beyond without changing vehicles.
With added maturity and hindsight, I’d be happy to work for someone else given the right opportunity and personal autonomy as a stepping stone to something bigger — But back in those days I’d rather die than work for someone else because 1) I was hungry and 2) I attached 100% of my worth as a person to my business.
Attaching your personal worth as a human being to your success or failure is a very dangerous position to be in. On one hand that ego can make you work very hard but is utterly soul-crushing when things don’t work out.
I was very extreme in my approach to everything back then — Now I’ll still ride a wave of inspiration every once in a while, but I’m a bit more balanced and approach things not as a do-or-die martyr now. This is very important to your mental health and personal productivity.
So, If you want to get in to business I’d recommend you…
Get a Life First
Entrepreneurship is hard. Don’t make this any harder than it has to be by sacrificing your current joy. Business is ONE aspect of your entire life, and shouldn’t ever be your all-consuming focus for longer than necessary. Sure, there are times where you’ll have to sacrifice sleep, friends, or your health to an extent. But ONLY in the beginning stages when you’re getting it all started. At some point you’ve got to live a bit — to live in a way that serves as a reminder why you work so hard.
It’s also not the answer to all your problems. There’s some things more money won’t fix, and there are situations where you may have more money but not a life you’re happy with.
You’ll be in a better position with more money obviously, but you'll also be less disappointed as an entrepreneur if you understand what you’re sacrificing and can accept that before jumping in, and how it’ll affect the rest of your life. It’s for this reason that I’m content with having a business that doesn’t necessarily provide massive wealth, but allows free time for me to explore my endless interests outside of business.
The “Hustle 24/7/365” culture that is so pervasive in entrepreneur circles isn’t healthy or sustainable long term, or anything worth aspiring to in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, making money and building something is fun. But in the grand scheme of things I work to live, not live to work.
So, how do you get a life?
Understand yourself deeply, and the path becomes clear
If you don’t know what you really want, who you really are, and develop a deeper understanding of how the world works, it will be extremely difficult to direct your thinking in a productive direction and make life work.
It was Sun Tzu that said “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Both are incredibly important. Understanding yourself and the world around you comes from engaging with it; sometimes from poor judgement and retroactively learning from it.
Everything around you (Culture, Peers, Parents, Social Media, even this Forum) will try to tell you who you are, what you want, and how you should live. It’s a projection of their values onto you. Without knowing what’s most important to you and connecting to a larger “why” for your existence, you will never know whether you’re listening to your own voice or someone else’s.
It’s for this reason why I’d recommend taking a lot of time digging into this.
Put yourself in an environment where you can thrive
So, if you’d still like to be in business, let’s talk about entrepreneurial loneliness. There are two factors we need to consider to mitigate its effects — Culture and People.
I grew up in the Deep South where the people aren’t my favorite and examples of success were virtually non-existent. I was very resentful for a long time, but only because I inherently did not fit into that culture.
The problem with this thinking is you don’t choose where you live, so it’s your sole responsibility to find a culture where you can thrive. Sometimes that’s changing neighborhoods, driving a few hundred miles away or flying a few thousand miles away. Getting a taste of different places will help you understand where you can thrive. If I recognized moving was a necessity sooner, I would’ve traded my time in resentment for time actively seeking a way out faster.
Entrepreneurship is only lonely because it dominates your thinking most of the time, and you won’t have anyone to relate to unless you actively seek them out. Online is fine, but preferably moving to an entrepreneurial city or even starting a hustle house is ideal.
More to come…
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