I am on a plane to Malaysia as I write this article. It’s going to be a long trip. There’s a brief meeting bookended by two long flights. When I arrive, I’ve scheduled a couple of calls with clients back home. Late night calls on my end, early morning calls on theirs. Sleep is often fleeting; my stress level is high. I struggle to find the time for exercise and lack the rituals needed to support a healthy weight. Yet, I’ve never been happier and more fulfilled in my life, weird huh?
The life of an entrepreneur is anything but easy. It’s hard work and it’s an undertaking that is somewhat contrary to normal behavior. Many, like myself, were taught that the route to success is education followed by a long, safe career working for a stable company. Yet, we didn’t follow the map. We veered off the freeway, stuck it into 4-wheel drive and took the road less traveled.
The question is why? Why did we veer off? The answer is different for everyone, but you’d better know that answer. It will be what sustains you in the dark moments of doubt, fear, and frustration. It will also be what allows you to see the beauty in the journey and to feel like the luckiest person on earth to be doing what you do.
We spend a lot of our time on the mechanics of our businesses. We are focused on growing revenue, raising money, and building a team. Our heads are down, and we just push forward. What happens when we hit that obstacle or when things get a little tough? Too often, that’s when we begin to question what we’re doing, why we’ve chosen something that’s so damn hard.
At that moment, it’s hard to see or remember our “why”. Instead, we often get sucked in by the forces of fear, doubt, and self-criticism. That’s a dangerous moment and it can be an inflection point. Too many of those moments of darkness in the absence of a clear “why” are what causes us to quit, to get back on the freeway and resume the easy route. We figure why not just follow the GPS like everyone else?
I’ve been there, racked by doubt, worry, and fear. With my internal narrative urging me to be a good husband and father and get back on the well-worn path. It’s the safe thing to do. But it’s not. Is it not better to bet on one’s self than to bet on others?
Will you do something for me? Will you please take some time and write down your “why”? If you keep it close to you, it can comfort you when darkness sets in. It can help you remain resolute and allow you to better experience the joy that is the journey.
Why do I do what I do? I do it because I want to make a meaningful difference. I want to help passionate people with great products succeed. I do it because I am excited to play a small part in changing the way we feed the world. I’d also like my adult kids to see that they can blaze their own trail. Lastly, it allows me to build real relationships with those whom I work to support, blurring the lines between client and friend.
On this long flight to Malaysia, my clients/friends take up the rest of the row. Although we’ll be dog tired by the time we return, the conversations and laughs we’re sure to have along the way are well worth the journey.