“The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do.”
“Take the attitude of a student. Never be too big to ask questions. Never know too much to learn something new.”
“People who say it can’t be done should stop interrupting those of us who are doing it.”
A can-do attitude is at the core of personal development.
My last several posts have focused on why its important to maintain your new direction in life. Once you’ve named your purpose, you have to stay pointed towards it, taking massive action on a daily basis to bring yourself closer to achieving your goal. This can take years. Mastery in any field often requires 10,000 hours, or less, of deliberate practice. As such, knowing how to maintain your new direction is also important. Key principles, like having a can-do attitude, acting before you are ready, investing in yourself, being flexible, and managing your perspective will help you stay pointed towards your goal. More importantly, these principles will help you maintain your enthusiasm and drive in the face of obstacles that will undoubtably arise. These are the same principles that make up the entrepreneurship development code.
The Entrepreneurship Development Code
The word “entrepreneur” wears a diaper and walks with a cane. It’s retired. It’s lost its power. The man who quits his job without a concrete goal and without taking action towards anything new calls himself an entrepreneur. The woman who collects an unemployment check and posts her deep thoughts on Facebook calls herself an entrepreneur. The college dropout who lives with his parents and blogs about the top 1% holding him back calls himself an entrepreneur. Everyone is an entrepreneur. As a result, entrepreneurship development no longer holds the same meaning. Its identity has been diluted and contorted, shifting shapes from code to catchphrase to cliché.
The true meaning of entrepreneurship development lives on. Entrepreneurship used to stand for something. There was a responsibility attached to it. The men and women who called themselves entrepreneurs also held themselves accountable to a certain code. Once accepted, this code was followed for life, transforming the entrepreneur’s mindset and elevating his or her standards forever. The problem is that this code has been violated so many times that most people have a completely warped view of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is more than social networking. It’s more than quitting your day job, having your own website, or cashing out on a successful startup. Real entrepreneurs want to build something that lasts. They do whatever it takes to put a dent in the universe. Most importantly, they resist today’s fad-like misconceptions of entrepreneurship development. It’s one thing to want to look like an entrepreneur, it’s another thing to really be an entrepreneur. Real entrepreneurship relies on action, and you can’t disguise action.
The Entrepreneur Event Horizon
The idea that entrepreneurs are an elite class of well-connected people that have it all figured out and calmly carry out proven recipes for success is a misconception. Likewise, the idea that all entrepreneurs are lone wolves who fire their bosses and swim upstream because it’s cool is foolish. Real entrepreneurs don’t fit into any mold. This is because entrepreneurs are individuals. More importantly, real entrepreneurs value individuality. Above all else, they know that each person has a unique gift to share. They also know that every entrepreneur will have to work her ass off to make a living sharing that gift. The union between passion and paycheck is always the goal. It’s an entrepreneur’s event horizon – the point beyond which he no longer has to worry about making money to survive. In other words, it’s when he gets paid sufficiently, or excessively, to do what he loves. On a deeper level, it’s the marriage of achievement and fulfillment; the ability to generate influence while enjoying life. To this end, a real entrepreneur operates under a simple code: maintain a relentless can-do attitude, worship action, invest in yourself, stay flexible, manage your perspective, make a difference, and do whatever it takes to fulfill your true purpose in life.
Can-Do Versus Carry-On
My mentor walked over to my lab bench and looked down at me while I pipetted cells into a test tube.
“What do you think about doing a set of proliferation assays on your cells?” he said.
“Great, let’s do it.” I replied.
“No, no, slow down, I asked you what you thought about it.”
Confused, I said, “I think it’s a great idea, let’s do it. I’ll set up the assay today.”
“That’s your biggest problem, a can-do attitude doesn’t fit in academia. Science requires a more thoughtful keep calm and carry-on attitude.”
This is the kind of advice I received throughout Graduate school. Calm down. Slow down. Sit down. Tone yourself down. Ask permission. Follow directions. Keep calm and carry-on. These bland, soul sucking slogans are kryptonite to your entrepreneurship development. In particular, keep calm and carry-on (originally a moral boosting poster for the British during World War II) is a recipe for mediocrity. Now, this slogan encourages people to act like mindless sheep rather than self-directed lions. Don’t ask questions. Color within the lines. Mind the herd. People who have this mindset will indeed move forward, like lemmings over a cliff.
Run through walls, not around them. A keep calm and carry-on attitude preaches obligation and passivity. Conversely, a can-do attitude preaches enthusiasm and initiative. The latter mindset is one of bold, creative action. Someone with a can-do attitude is positive, willing, go-getting, upbeat, confident, keen, and ambitious. A can-do person runs towards obstacles, enjoying each challenge and learning from each failure. A can-do person strives to increase happiness, generate influence, and improve self-confidence on a daily basis. This kind of mental outlook is absolutely required for your own entrepreneurship development. A can-do mindset will not only enhance your performance, it will improve your personal wellbeing. Relying on yourself and your own resourcefulness is like running on jet fuel. Few things in life are more empowering than the consistent practice of initiating positive and productive events.
Patience Is A Vice
Just f*cking do it. Fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, aim. Repeat. Give a real entrepreneur a six-shooter and five of the bullets will be gone before the average person has finished aiming his first shot. Understand: no plan survives contact with reality. Reading books and writing plans are great ways to build references, maintain focus, and enhance perspective, but experience is the best and fastest teacher. One real world experience is worth the knowledge of a thousand books. This is because experience requires action, and action requires visceral contact with reality.
Waiting is wasting. When it comes to fulfilling your purpose in life and your pursuit of mastery, act before you are ready. Prolonged study, deliberation, and planning are often signs of weakness and insecurity, not wisdom and patience. The reason that most people set planning as their default state is because planning is safe. Plans are cheap. Experience is costly. Taking action in the real world involves risk, which is why most people procrastinate obsessively. Waiting around for the right moment or the right person is foolish. No one is coming to pave you a safe path to success. No one is going to magically appear and pick you for greatness. Fairy godmothers don’t exist. Stop waiting. Pick yourself. Make something happen right now. Be your own big break. In my next post, I will show you how to maintain your new direction in life by managing your perspective.