Entrepreneurs have been celebrated as outliers who take risks, remain persistent, dream up innovative ideas and turn them into reality while amassing a fortune in the process.
Sadly, most of us don’t approach our lives, talents and careers as entrepreneurs.
Instead of being proactive, most people leave the development of their lives and careers to chance. They are always waiting for that big break that never comes. Time has become their greatest culprit in pursuing their dream.
They have refused to take Counsel from Harvard Professor, Howard Stevenson that “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regards to resources currently controlled.”
Do you know what that means? If you wait for perfect conditions, you will not fulfil your God-given destiny. High achieving individuals are those who pursue their dreams in spite of, not because of circumstances.
In celebrating Worker’s day, i want to share six lessons we can learn from entrepreneurs in managing our lives and careers.
1. Know YOU
The starting point of success is a deep understanding of yourself – your strengths, weaknesses, talents, passion, dreams and values. Failure to acquire a deep understand of yourself in these areas is the starting point of failure in life.
Most people leave college without clear ideas about who they want to be or what they want to do. They were never concerned. They observed the motions of going to class, socializing and scrambling for grades. The only thing absent from their curriculum was self discovery.
In my opinion, “The majority of men live lives of quite desperation”, according to Thoreau because they did not discover themselves.
Even those who do, are often afraid to align with their discovery. Instead they succumb to parental or social scripts. They choose their profession based on their parent’s wishes or what is in popular demand, forgetting that their uniqueness is the key to lasting success. The opposite of courage is not fear but conformity.
Sadly, a lot of people have embraced off-the-shelf mass produced lives. They should take counsel from Abraham Maslow, “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” It is never too late to start becoming the person we should be. Be courageous and become.
2. Do What You Love
The essence of knowing yourself is to come to the point of discovering your life vocation. Do what you love and you will never have to work for a single day. Sounds idealistic right?I think so too.
This statement makes it sound like doing what you love is the route to a pain free life. No! Far from it. Doing what you love only ensures that the journey will be worthwhile and you will always have a store of passion to draw from to surmount disappointment and obstacles. People who love what they do don’t give up easily.
However, there is one thing I can guarantee – you will never know that joy of the soul that is created when passion aligns with work. That joy is the prerogative of those who do work that supports their passion. Like Abraham Maslow said, “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.”
3. Develop Yourself
Growth is never accidental. You can grow old but there is no guarantee you will grow up. Progress is not a function of time alone but of intentional and focused effort towards personal development.
When you discover what you are passionate about or what you think you are born to do. The next logical step is to develop yourself along that line. Passion or love of a profession alone won’t cut it. Talent is not enough.
Forget all that crap of following passion if you are not willing to pursue mastery. The highest and best expression of our talents comes through mastery and that is a hard process. Few make it and they are the ones we celebrate.
You know the law of 10,000 hours by Malcomm Gladwell. By anecdotal evidence, he came to the conclusion that masters in any field have had at least 10,000 hours of practice.
If this is anything to go by, do you now see why most people never develop their potential. It requires sacrifice. Most people won’t delay gratification enough to pursue the long and narrow way of mastery. It’s indeed a difficult way.
So wide is the way of heavy socializing, beer guzzling, uncontrolled sensual pleasure, carousing, excessive TV watching and mental laziness. Many that take that path end up struggling to pay their bills, can’t send their kids to good schools and settle for a life of conformity that results in unrealized potential.
4. Master the Business of Your Talent
This is a very different process from personal growth. Most people develop their talents but going by Steve Harris’ advocacy, they don’t master the business of their talents. They fail to develop their talents into commercial value. Simply put, they don’t know how to package or brand their talent.
There are so many public speakers, artiste, footballers but the highest earning ones are those who turn their talents into a business. Mike Tyson developed his talent but added no commercial value. Michael Jordan had talent+commercial value and long after retirement, he is still a millionaire. These two men underscore the importance of mastering the business of your talent.
Globalization has changed the rules. All are now entrepreneurs, whether employed or running their businesses. Those who become indispensable to their organization are those involved in the constant process of developing the skills or acquiring the knowledge their organization needs to succeed. Their organization will pay a premium to keep them because the cost of replacing them is higher.
What then can you do? Study the most successful and highest earning men and women in your field. Find out the secret of their success and do what they do. Success is predictable.
Also remain innovative. Always seek how you can do it better, faster or easier. Follow the law of leverage, design your products or the value you create to have geometric progression. As long as you are consistent, time and success will prove the wisdom of this process.
The bottom line is always that it takes time. Enduring success is not a get-rich-quick scheme or microwave process. But once you achieve that critical momentum, you are unstoppable.
5. Master the Art of Selling
There is one course all of us must sign up for – sales mastery. And I’m not kidding. If you still have the traditional thinking of sales, that hard-selling, smooth talking guy selling insurance or products house to house or at the car pack, you are still in the 18th century
We are all in sales now and I hope to write something thorough about this pretty soon. Do you know any successful businessman? That’s a successful sales man you have just identified.
After packaging yourself, you must get your products or yourself out there and persuade people to buy your product, service or idea. Yes! Buy you or buy into you.
When you get hired for a job, it’s because the employer bought into you, believed you had some value to offer. Some other people better than you might not be chosen because they couldn’t sell themselves well.
Business succeeds not just because the product or service is well packaged but ultimately because people buy.
Those who garner the support of their colleagues at work, lead a successful team or persuade the organization to embark on a project are all sales men. They sold their idea, personality and character. Even scientist persuade people about the benefits of their discovery or patent.
So are you seeking success and yet you hate to sell. Then forget it!
This is the entrepreneurial path to success.
Having read thus far, can i ask – Which phase are you? I advise – be careful of trying to sell at stage five when you haven’t discovered yourself at stage one. I will never forget something I learnt from Lolu Mogaji, “The YOU you don’t know, you can’t sell.”
6. Dare Greatly
‘Be daring’ is a statement that finds different expression. One on end of the continuum, it might mean to start that business, go back to school, apply for that Job or initiate that dream project.
Along the continuum, it might mean being willing to endure rejection because you refuse to subscribe to popular thinking, you refuse to be conformed to people’s expectation of what you should be or do even if they are your family (sometimes they can love you away from your passion or destiny).
On the other end of the continuum, it can mean blind optimism. Here you attempt great things, you bite off more than you can chew and believe greatly even when you do not have the evidence of success. It is the mindset the Bible talks about when it says, “Faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.”
I have found that it takes courage to believe. It’s effortless to feed doubt and fear – just let the wrong thoughts linger. I find Albert Einstein’s counsel imperative, “It is better to believe than to disbelieve; in doing you bring everything to the realm of possibility.”
Still lacking the confidence to make that move, to take that risk? Listen to Theodore Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Dear reader, what great thing would you attempt today if you were insured against failure? The truth is that there is no such insurance. We all must move into our future with some degree of uncertainty but do not let uncertainty rob you of your faith or action.
To Your Potential