Plato said: “The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile.”
Self-mastery is one of the most important goals that we can adopt for ourselves. Without it, we won't have the integrity, work ethic, or perseverance to accomplish anything worthwhile in this life. It's a simple concept but it isn't an easy one. It takes a lifetime of dedication and refinement, striving each day to make yourself better. The mastery has so many levels - it can work on a moral level, a knowledge/learning level, but rarely, if ever, comes without a conscious, focus effort in order to become master of something.
One of the goals that I have for myself is to use the free time that I have for more important purposes. I would like to use more of my free time to read books that will 1) fire up my imagination, or 2) help me think in different ways and with various perspectives. This week we learned that time the true currency that we spend. How often do I spend that precious currency on insubstantial, sometimes even worthless, things. I desire also do develop other hobbies in my life that will allow me to grow as a person. Today, on Memorial Day, my wife and I plan to beautify our yard by growing plants and flowers in it. It's our first time really trying to garden. We may fail miserably, but that's part of mastery that I think is essential. We all want to become masters of something, but don't want to pay the price of failure to get there. Failure needs to have the negative connotation removed from it in our minds. Failure is the learning process. Watching my 1 year old daughter, I recognize that. She will try walking, but fall down. She doesn't lay there saying, "Well, I tried that walking thing, didn't work out. Guess I'll just crawl the rest of my life." No matter how many times she stumbles, she just keeps going. We must continue to get up, brush ourselves off, and move forward if we want to become the masters of anything worthwhile.
This week, we examined a case study that gave us a glimpse into the decision on whether to have a business follow a slow growth pattern or move it at a faster pace. Personally, I chose slow growth and the reason comes down to one of the other reading that we had this week.
In an experience given by Jeff Sandefer, he spoke of sitting in front of a group of entrepreneurs to ask them about what contributed to their success. Among the many things that were born out of that conversation, the one the stood out most to me was the reason many begin their entrepreneurial ventures. Here is the excerpt that really had me thinking:
The used car tycoon agreed, “Entrepreneurial success isn’t about money; it’s about freedom. The goal isn’t to make more than you need, it’s to spend less than you make. Because that way your free time belongs to you.”
Whether I knew it or not, this was the reason that becoming an entrepreneur has become so enticing to me. I've been going to school for 4 years now and have worked the entire time, minus one semester. As my wife and I started our family, I felt sad when I would have to leave them for large chunks of the day only to see them for a half hour or so before leaving for work that evening. I imagine a life where I'm working full time for a company and imagine either being so pressed for time, that I can't see my family grow, or being so drained by the soul sucking work that can so often take over lives, that I wouldn't be able to enjoy the time that I do have with them. In contrast to this grim reality that I paint in my head, the freedom of entrepreneurship excites me.
"Do what you love. You'll be better at it" -Francis Ford Coppola
Out of all the things that we've been learning this past week, this might be one of the most influential to me. Now, there are things that we just can't do as a career that we love because there is no market for it. However, when we are looking for our life's work, it is important to find something we love. That love provides us with the motivation to weather the storms that will inevitably come to us in our working lives. If we love what we do, we will work harder, sacrifice more, and expend more energy driving it toward success than if we simply find something we're good at, but don't like it so much.
Don't think that those unmarketable skills can't be beneficial in your life as well. For about 10 years now, I've been heavily involved in fantasy football (I even have a Twitter account where I talk about it @FantasyOutlaw). Now, it may seem like a strange thing to love, but it really has given a lot of perspective of things that excite me. Through pondering about why fantasy football appeals to me so much, I have found that I'm a big fan of evaluating individual players and forming them into a team. From this, I have gathered that building a team of individuals, whether in a company or in my own entrepreneurial venture, is something that I feel I have competence in and a strong desire to be successful. It appeals to me. It makes me feel successful when I find an individual or player that no one expected to be successful to find success as a member of my team.
Later, I found a man online who had an interesting exercise for finding your passion. He said to list your 3 favorite movies (mine are Silverado, Moneyball, and The Avengers), then to look for themes within the movies that could explain why they appeal to you so much. Within all 3 of these movies, I see a team being built to overcome a large scale problem. Just as I found with my fantasy football love, I would thrive in an area where I'm able to build a team in order to solve a problem.
Having love as the basis for setting your career path is one that I see many people debate. But this is one of the most compelling arguments as to why doing what your love is one of the best things we can do when looking for our career.
When we think of entrepreneurs, we think of things such as businesses, sales, profits, hard work, motivation, and such other things. We think of our past experiences with such people, the enthusiastic knife salesman that wants to show us a knife that will literally cut through anything (why do I need my knife to be able to cut through a penny?), or the quick talking used car salesman with the plaid suit and the bad comb-over, who has "just the deal" for you. Many times, we have a negative connotation with such professions, maybe for good reason, maybe not.
This weeks material made me think a lot about what I would want to do/be as a entrepreneur. Without getting into specific strategies, or without even knowing what kind of business I would have, I know that one of the most important things that I could have is the foundation of my integrity. Doing the right thing for the right reason at the right time is the perfect formula for establishing a successful business. Now, do dishonest entrepreneurs/businesses succeed? Sure they do. Do honest/hard working entrepreneurs/businesses fail? Sure they do. But, this comes down to more than just profits. This is about creating something that you can be proud of, something that you can put your name behind.
Zig Ziglar is one of my favorite people to listen to in this arena of sales/business. He has a quote that I think is particularly appropriate for this situation. He says that we need to develop in our lives the things money can't buy. Money can't buy integrity. But with integrity, you can use the money you do receive in your life as a means to build a highly fulfilling life. Zig continues and says, "Money can buy you a house, but it won't buy you a home. It can buy you a bed, but it won't buy you a good night's sleep. It can buy you a companion, but it won't buy you a friend." If we are desirous to have joy in our lives, we must find balance as people. For me, I find money to be a personality reflector. If you are a good, honest person, having a large amount of money won't change that, but will enhance the good you're able to do with it. A large amount of money to someone who doesn't have integrity or a plan will enhance a underdeveloped understanding into selfishness, greed, and self-indulgence.
Bottom line, what does it matter if you gain the whole world, but lose your soul?
'I think.' Its a phrase we hear often, and one that many view as a weak basis of evidence, citing it as only an opinion. Well, I've spent this past week thinking about what I want as my "star" (an idea/goal that I want toward the end of my life). I can tell you - thinking has a lot of power.
My "star" centers around my family. I want to be able to reflect and claim that the majority of my time and energy was spend in talking, playing, discussing, crying, laughing, reaching, failing, succeeding, and many more things with my wife and children. Part of this reflection came as completing one of our assignments, to create a list of 50 bucket list items that we want to accomplish before we die. My top goals focus on creating a life and home that will cultivate love in our family and help us all explore and spend time building hobbies and exploring who we are as individuals and as a family unit.
One of my top goals, and one that really points me into an entrepreneurial career is creating a family camp. One thing missing in our society is real recreation time. We get so caught up with our careers and leisure (something that I believe is different than recreation, a type of pseudo-recreation), that we become unfulfilled balls of stress. I want to contribute to the de-stressing of society through allowing people to leave behind the cubicle and have pure fun and excitement with the ones they love the most. I find a potential calling in this, to help shift people's perspective back to the fact that time and energy is one of the most honorable use of our time we could ever hope to spend.
These are important steps for me to understand the big picture so that I may be able to begin to take the steps that will lead to this end.
My name is Brian and I have a voice and something valuable to say. I'm on a quest to discover myself and the world around me. Join me and together we can do good in the world.