I was listening to ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell via audiobook last night, and was particularly struck by the section that referenced ‘being inspired’ as a common characteristic between successful people. I couldn’t agree more – but how do you make that concept actionable?
Sure, it sounds simple – if you love what you do, you’ll do more of it, and better – but those decisions are not always obvious. We all have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and may be in the middle of doing something ‘uninspired’ but it’s getting the job done. We take little vacations, try to ‘unwind’ and enjoy life with friends before going ‘back to the grind.’ Being ‘inspired’ sounds idealistic…which can feel synonymous with ‘unrealistic.’
Finding the right place for your professional career is worthy of your time and energy to pencil it out and see if it really is as out of reach as it seems. I’m a list guy – so I start by taking a sheet of paper and writing things down. Here is an example of my personal thoughts:
What I love: interacting with people, mentoring someone who wants to start a business, traveling, technology (gadgets!), making sales/closing deals, building relationships, working smart.
What I dislike: doing the same thing every day, moving at a slow pace, too much control over my time, brick & mortar businesses, doing BS work, working hard.
Pros of starting my own business: freedom with my time, unlimited income potential, more personal responsibility, opportunity to be creative, pride of ownership, opportunity for wealth, doing more of what I love.
Cons of starting my own business: more personal responsibility (I eat what I kill, or starve if I don’t), stress, dealing with the ‘back office’ of setting things up (merchant accounts, bookkeeping), losing money/savings, may be forced to do more of what I dislike.
Note: ‘personal responsibility’ is both a PRO and a CON. This is where you have to decide whether you are the kind of person that naturally takes personal responsibility – this is a critical component of entrepreneurial success.
Then I would try to get specific. Does the potential upside (what I can make), outweigh the risk of the potential downside (loss of money & time)? If I do fail, can I at least say I had a good time trying and gave it hell? Can I limit my downside without minimizing my upside? Does the possibility of failure terrify me, or can I grow from it?
If I know I’ll enjoy the journey, invest in myself, and have a solid shot at success, I’m likely to go for it. I LOVE the feeling in my belly when I create a new technology or close a deal. I LOVE being able to leave at 2:30 to pick up the kids from school and go coach their softball team. I LOVE knowing that I am in control of my own destiny.
Not everyone is cut out to be their own boss, nothing wrong with that, but it can be life-changing for the right person.