I always joke around about how I have been torturing myself for nearly 10 years by being in the startup game as an entrepreneur. When I first started my career, I guess thats what you call it -- "a career", I swore I'd be rich and famous by 22, then it was 23, then it was; well, you get the point. Today, I'm 31 years old and happier than ever as an entrepreneur. Have I made $20 million dollars, nope. Do I have the mansion on the beach in Miami (my hometown), negative. Have I had a tremendously successful exit, no. So why am I happier than ever you may ask yourself?
Well, its because I understand what this whole entrepreneurship thing is all about now. For the overwhelming majority of us, its not a quick road to financial success. And in fact, if you are doing it for the glamour and fame, you are better off moving to Hollywood and trying to be an actor. For me its been a life journey. My life as an entrepreneur has grown and evolved in the way that I have grown and evolved as a human being. I was once a child and now I am an adult. At one point I thought that my drive to be a entrepreneur was all about the money; yes, I'll admit it. I consider this my youthful days of my entrepreneurial life. I thought it was a quick road if I worked hard enough and that patience was for losers. Again, part of my youthful days. You see, there is no doubt that financial success is meaningful and I still strive for it, yet money is not something that motivates long term and patience is a discipline that enables you to manage both the wins and the loses. You realize over time that this is who you are -- you are an entrepreneur. You are not crazy and must accept that this is who you are, and thats its ok to want to build your own castle as opposed to living in someone else's. You must also understand that this is not an overnight process. You will climb the mountain and run out of energy, resources, spirit, etc, -- many, many times; most call this failure.
Entrepreneurship is a life decision. A commitment to live your life the way you want to. And for others that means being an accountant, doctor, police officer, etc, etc - and thats perfectly fine. For this whole thing called life and society to work, it requires everyone fitting into the role that they are passionate about. Yet, for you people like us, this is a life full of ups and downs. And just as in all growth processes, over time you become accustomed to these changes and although "failure" will always sting, wisdom is achieved and your spirit becomes stronger and less penetrable.
Happiness and Balance
My friend Steli Efti Founder and CEO of Elastic Sales, talks a lot about being a happy entrepreneur. I couldn't agree more. Look its tough; very tough. Yet that cant allow you to become a bitter cynical person when things dont work out the way to planned they would. Entrepreneurship is a journey as is life. And although I am incapable of explaining to you why horrible things happen in life on a daily basis, I can assure you that focusing on these awful things doesn't help anyone. And in business, you should learn from your mistakes and difficult moments and make the decision to chalk them up as a opportunities for growth. Focus on the good that has occurred even if its hard sometimes to see it. You must fight for this clarity. After my previous startup failed, I was so depressed and discouraged that I could not see the good that it had brought. Today I am so thankful for having gone through that experience. Each venture grows your network, teaches you valuable lessons, and makes you that much more ready to run a successful company and be a good leader.
Steli also spoke about adding meditation to his life and not working himself to complete exhaustion. I also agree with this. I too used to work myself to the point that my brain would just shut off. And although, doing a startup requires an immense amount of dedication and time spent working, it's important to focus on the things that matter and know when your effort needs to be redirected. I believe that in order to be at your best, make sound decisions, and be a great leader, you need to be able to develop the discipline needed to know when you need a break for personal development and nurturing. If you think about it, what does it all matter if you have destroyed your health, both mental and physical, in the process? -- Since I have committed to working equally as hard on my personal development including physically, mentally, and spiritually, I have not only become a better person yet have seen my career improve 10x.
Opportunities for Growth or Growth Moments
Lastly, I want to talk to you about what I call growth moments. These are challenging moments in our lives where things might be going terribly wrong. Whether its in our personal lives or with our startup, these are moments where our character and spirit is put to the test and many times knock us down to the floor barely hanging on. Does this sound familiar? -- If It does I am here to say that you have made it through ok. And if you are currently dealing with this, I can assure you that this too shall pass. These are what I call opportunities for growth or growth moments. The caveat is that we have to make the decision to be open to growth. Whether you have lost an important business deal, cant seem to raise capital, or experienced a startup failing, these are all opportunities to grow. Now, Im not saying its gonna be easy. Most growth comes with a little and sometimes a lot of resistance, yet I can assure you that this is merely part of your journey. Its part of the process that we all must go through as entrepreneurs. Accept it now and move forward.
So for now, take a deep breath and enjoy the journey. This is a bumpy yet road amazing road we are on NOW and what lies ahead will come in due time...