I am competitive. Okay, really competitive. I am driven to excel and have always compared my success to the success of my peers. But I've found this isn't a rewarding or fulfilling way to live. It leads to feelings of failure and self doubt. It took me a while to realize this, and continues to be a constant battle, but a fulfilling life requires the pursuit of meaningful work that doesn't jeopardize your values, hobbies, relationships, or health over the long-term.
How do I keep my ambitious entrepreneurial pursuits in check with my life goals and my values? Simple. I measure my goals and achievements by my own yardstick. This mentality lead me to the most important realization I have come to as an entrepreneur...
It's OKAY to not be a big-time entrepreneur.
Really, it is! That's a tough pill to swallow for most entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are highly ambitious go-getters hardwired to grind, hustle, and beat their way to the top. They are inherently driven to win, no matter what it takes. The common mantra embodied by many ambitious entrepreneurs is that 'bigger is better'. More customers. More capital. More media. More profits.
But this all-or-nothing approach can lead to a lot of disappointment if you measure your success against the yardstick of multi-billion dollar start-up valuations, IPO grand slams, and hundred-million-plus user bases.
Richard Branson, chair of the Virgin Group, has overseen about 500 companies in his career. Consider for a second all of the headaches, failures, and missed time with family and friends that come with running 500 companies. For most entrepreneurs (myself included) this would be hell! There is a lot more to succeeding in entrepreneurship than gracing the cover of Success magazine.
It's worth repeating: DON'T aspire to live SOMEONE ELSE'S definition of success. When you measure your success by the expectations and achievements of others, you set the stage for massive failure.
While it is okay to not be a big-time entrepreneur, it is not okay to pursue something that will not bring you happiness nor allow you to live your definition of success. The great Earl Nightingale defined success as "the progressive realization of a worthy ideal." I love this definition because it labels anybody who persistently pursues a goal that is meaningful to them as a success. Nightingale understood that we all have different ambitions, goals, and passions in life and must measure success accordingly. A man who opens a sandwich shop on the corner because he aspired to do so since he was young is a success. A mother who stays at home and cares for her kids because she loves being a mom is a success. A college dropout who builds a multi-million dollar app because he loves programming and has no regard for the status quo is also a success, but no more of a success than the former two examples.
BUT, if you believe going BIG aligns with your life's purpose, then do it.
Although it isn't for the faint of heart, going big might actually be the right move for you. If you want the universe to feel your dent because that's what you want to do, then more power to you. Hugely successful entrepreneurs are not driven by fame or fortune, they are driven by a desire to make a dent in the world, to fulfill their potential and make a great impact doing work that is meaningful to them. If making your dent requires you to go big, and at the end of the day you wouldn't have it any other way, then get out there and make it happen.
For me, true happiness in life comes from balance.
I have realized that a balanced life is a huge priority for me. I don't want to be really successful in my entrepreneurial pursuits by jeopardizing my relationships, ignoring my hobbies, or compromising my values. I want to be good at many things and live a balanced life surrounded by close friends and family. I love coaching entrepreneurs, spending my evenings in the gym, giving back to my community, exploring the great outdoors, surrounding myself with my amazing friends and family, and crushing drum solos...all while keeping my businesses moving forward at full throttle.
TAKE MASSIVE ACTION NOW
Here are two action steps to get you on the right path to becoming a wildly successful entrepreneur while leading a happy, fulfilled life. I suggest you take out a paper and pen and really give these questions some thought. You deserve it!
ACTION STEP 1: You have to audit yourself. What drives you to pursue entrepreneurship? Are you pursuing a business that you can find serious joy in? Write your list of objectives for your business. Are they realistic?
ACTION STEP 2: The real joy of being an entrepreneur is not the destination, it is the journey. Will you enjoy the journey? Will you have the time and energy necessary to maintain your health, relationships, and hobbies?
Please be sure to download, print, and complete the PDF version (found here: MASSIVE ACTION WORKSHEET) to stick somewhere you will see it often (on your refrigerator, mirror, desk...).
Thanks for reading!
Here's to your success,