I think in today’s world, this is a topic that bears more focus. Everyone is in such a hurry for everything. Some of it is the technology-laden culture we live in, we are just used to getting things faster and more easily than ever before. This is great when ordering a new pair of headphones, but when it comes to success in life, there are no short cuts.
Given my roles as coach and course instructor at ASU, I speak with people younger than me quite a bit. I am continually amazed at the level of delusion in an increasing number of students and young adults. I am sure the highlight reel lives they are used to looking at on Social Media that is warping their sense of reality. We focus way too much on the biggest of big successes, and think we all can write the next big app or create the Uber for something else and call it a day. These extremely rare success stories of our world are so fascinating BECAUSE they are so rare and unique, but they should not be considered the blueprint for your life. They should motivate you, inspire you to work super hard at something you commit to, and to aim really big. BUT, the harsh reality is that most of us are not going to have the success like that in the short term.
PLAY THE LONG GAME
Gary Vee talks about this all the time, and I couldn’t agree more. Your life is a LONG road, and you need to play accordingly. The analogy he uses for a new grad starting a business is “that would be like you graduating college and trying out for an NBA team with no previous basketball experience”. He’s right. I’ve been there. I have jumped into a few different entrepreneurial ventures with less than adequate experience, under-funded, and a lack of other resources. I failed. Each time I did this, I failed. I would have been far wiser to learn the ropes from someone else and then, once I had everything aligned to hedge my bet towards success, break away and do my own thing.
Experience is a great teacher, if you have the time. The problem is, you don’t. Not really; in the grand scheme of things you need to accelerate your learning curve as much as possible. Not the process, the learning curve. You need to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible to help you for the long haul. Once you have gleaned as much information from someone else as possible, then you can start from a position of being semi-informed. I say it that way for a reason, nothing you do is going to follow the same exact path that you learned elsewhere. Starting a business today has new challenges and hurdles that were non-existent five years ago. New competition, pivots in the market, changes attitudes and tastes in our fickle consumer world all change rapidly. Remember Tumblr? This social media platform was purchased by Yahoo for $1 billion in 2013, and it was just sold (dumped) for $3 million. That’s right, six years later it is considered to be worth a fraction of what it was. No one saw that coming five years ago…
Ask yourself a serious question…Why are you in such a hurry? Do you want to be rich and retired at 28? Seriously, do you? Think about that, you will be bored out of your mind in a hurry if you have no real reason to get out of bed every day. I think a more reasonable goal to shoot for is to be happy and free from basic financial concerns. THAT is a great place to be, but a very attainable goal at the same time. Once again, ask Gary Vee says, “Happiness should be the goal, we need to revamp our thinking on what we are aiming at”. I know, I have been seduced by the lure of “easy money” or a business exit paycheck. It is very attractive, but the road to get there is unpaved, bumpy as Hell, and not on any of the maps I owned.
I can also speak from experience that I do not want anything responsibilities outside of my current role as VP of Sales in my day job. The Founder and CEO of our company has shouldered an incredible financial and emotional burden getting us where we are today, and I do not want that level of responsibility. I have been there before, and I do not handle it well. The stress is too much. I am well aware of the fact that you are the owner ALL THE TIME; there is no off switch. As VP of Sales, I get to clock out on Friday and come back Monday to start again. The owner never gets a break.
Is this what you want? Do you really want to be in that position, or are you better off in my shoes? If your life is looking to center around a balanced approach of work and play, follow me. If you relish the idea of driving the proverbial bus, fighting every battle to defend what you have, and bear every concerns down to the smallest detail, then you may just have the chops to be an entrepreneur after all. Just because I couldn’t cut it doesn’t mean you can’t. I won’t do it again, I like things the way they are. Now that I have finally figured this out, I am playing the long game for me in the best manner possible. I am a way better as someone’s “right hand man” than I am running the business. I like fly fishing too much to never have an off switch.
So to save yourself some real headache/heartache/stress/ anxiety/bankruptcy/all of the above, be realistic. Delusion is a serious enemy; you have to know who you are, what you really want, and how to go about it. Remember that Instagram has filters, and no one ever shows all of the hard times on their Social Media. It is a highlight reel to make the world think they have it all figured out. They don’t, as no one does. This doesn’t happen quickly, it is a process of experience. Structure your life for the long haul. Assume you are going to be on the planet AND WORKING for a very long time. Be patient, and learn from others before you dive off the cliff and try to build a plane on the way down. Get as much knowledge under your belt as possible before you take your shot, giving yourself a fighting chance at success.
Figure out what you want your life to be like; if work/life balance is a high priority, entrepreneurship is not for you. It is a 24/7 roller coaster ride, and there is no one else in line waiting to take your place in the lead car. Set yourself up to PLAY THE LONG GAME, and ease your way forward. Learn, absorb and appreciate the process as you work towards the LIFELONG goal(s) you set. Figure out the role you are best suited for, and work towards that. this formula is not a guarantee for success, it is a realistic play. It is one that most of us can accomplish, once you figure out who you really are, and what you really want.
Don’t let the filtered view of the world in your phone dictate your choices.