Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. Or an influencer. Or a life-expert (whatever the fuck that means).
But can everyone actually be an entrepreneur? To me, that’s like saying everyone can (and should) be an architect, or a cook, or a dancer.
Entrepreneurship is just another profession — the one that has become extremely popular over the last decade. Just like being an athlete or an “MC” used to be some 10–20 years ago. It’s simply another trend. And just like in that ancient fable, this too, shall pass.
With all the media, content and GaryVee, a lot of young kids get confused. They think they want to be entrepreneurs, influencers and life-coaches. They think they have what it takes. And they think they are actually “meant” to be ones.
But that simply may not be the case.
“Yeah, I agree with you, Sergey, but I am REALLY an entrepreneur. I wanted to be that all my life.”
Oh yeah? Tell me then: what’s motivating you? What’s your driving force? Be honest.
“Well…I like the lifestyle, the money, and I want to be in Forbes’ ’30 under 30' list!”
Now that’s your problem — right there. Loving the result is not the same as being passionate about something. And it’s probably an indicator that you are mistaken in your choice of a profession.
With all the talk going around (especially in the life-coaching realm) about the importance of “choosing your path”, your “passion” and “finding your calling” — people get stuck. We are pressured to choose (and do it NOW), to know what we want to do early in life — and we quickly pick what’s easy: what’s popular.
We love the image. We love the status. We love the word “CEO” next to our name on a business card and the words “investor, professional trainer, expert in XYZ” in our Instagram bios. And we think that it’s should look like.
But the reality is that we confuse the image of success with actually loving the process (the grind) of building our way to that success. We confuse being somebody with doing something.
Here is how doing is different from trying to “be someone”.
You don’t want to call yourself names
When you truly found your “thing”, you don’t need it.
You don’t need labels, status, Instagram bio description edited and Facebook status updated. You are busy working.
A great test to figuring out if your passion actually is your “thing” is to ask yourself, whether you want to be called that by other people. I believe that if you stumbled upon your real “calling” (or whatever you call it) you don’t want to be called names. You just want to do whatever you are doing — as much as possible, every second.
You don’t have time, energy or desire to contemplate on how others perceive your Instagram profile. You don’t need cheap external validation — you are focused on the work and extract pleasure from the craft itself, from the doing.
On the other hand, people who want to “be someone” are all about calling themselves names. Everyone has a friend (and if you don’t, maybe it’s you? :) ) who changes their Instagram profile description every week, trying hard to describe themselves and then live up to that definition.
As for me, I like writing and I want to write. It brings me great pleasure to communicate my ideas in a structured written form. And as I look back on my childhood, I realize that I’ve been doing it all my life — in Moleskines, in Evernote, even on napkins on some occasions. But I get goosebumps on my chest from even thinking that someone could call me a “writer” (fuck!). I feel that it’s so unnecessary, so cheap to label myself anything — I don’t care, I should just write.
But that’s not the case with entrepreneurship. I am actually one of the kids who thought all their life that they are meant to be an “entrepreneur”. I loved the idea of being like Steve Jobs, of building great companies, of being like my dad.
But you want to know the truth?
I don’t like it. I don’t like working with people, with teams, building processes and actually being focused on money per se. I like building great ideas more than building great businesses. And this kind of (painful) realization made me start this blog and made me focus more of what I do best and what potentially can be my “thing”.
Make sure that your mind is operating with verbs, not with nouns. As love is a verb, not a noun, so is your life’s work.
You want to write, not be a writer.
You want to build businesses, not be an entrepreneur.
You want to teach people, not be a teacher.
If that’s yet not the case, don’t give up, keep looking. Like Steve Jobs said: “…as with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
You are focused on the process
…and on getting better at this process.
When you found “your thing”, when you care about doing something more than being somebody, you are not focused on the milestones. In fact, keeping track of these milestones is what you push yourself to do. Your natural instinct is to do, to get better, but you remind yourself that keeping track, promoting yourself and doing the external stuff is also important.
When all you care is being somebody, the only thing that keeps you going, is watching for these milestones. You hate the process (and confuse it with hardship) and you behave like a kid in class: watching the clock tick and feeling that 5 minutes is an eternity. Achieving is what keep you going forward.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to achieve. But when you are doing something that you love, time flows by and getting somewhere just stops to matter that much. You enjoy driving the route more than getting from A to B.
That’s also why doing what you love is a great general strategy in life. The best case scenario: you’ll have it all: internally and externally. The worst case? You’ll spend your life doing what you love, enjoying the process.
It’s your ego talking
Appearance is not the same as really being. Often we fall in love with an image of what success looks like. The number of stars on your shoulder or the nature of your appointment or its location could easily be confused as a proxy for real accomplishment. For other people, it’s their job title, the business school they went to, the number of assistants they have, the location of their parking space, the grants they earn, their access to the CEO, the size of their paycheck, or the number of fans they have. Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive. Being is different from doing.
Recognition, falling in love with the image and focusing too much on how other people might perceive you and your work are all signs of ego.
I believe that great work can be done only in the egoless environment: the one, where you are focused on the work and the work only. The opposite of ego, as Ryan says, is humility and confidence. And what do people with humility and confidence do? They work quietly in the corner and worry less about the appearance. And more on getting things done.
Doing something is about humility and confidence.
Being somebody is your ego talking.
Make the world a better place
I believe that if young folks took the time to really think it through and not buy in to the trends, we would have way less “entrepreneurs” and way more professional diversity.
So if you are still looking for the thing where you could do more than be, keep looking. Continue to be on your journey. Don’t take the easy path and follow the trends. Because you’d only be able to do great work if you truly love what you do.
If we all sought to do more than to be, the world would be, as they say in Silicon Valley, a better place.
To be or to do — life is a constant roll call.