Most people end up settling and never follow their dreams. It’s sad, but true. What is the main reason for this? Well, there are many theories and some hard evidence, but in my opinion, the main reason people never pursue their dreams is that they are afraid of failure. Why are they afraid? I’m not sure, but it seems to be very deep-seated, as it affects almost every human being I have met. Everyone has some fear of failure, even those that claim they don’t. But the difference between those that let inertia take over and end up doing nothing and those that “go for it”, is the ability to take that first step.
Nowhere was this ever more apparent to me than in a recent trip to Central America, where my youngest son, who (I thought) was deathly afraid of heights, went with us to a ziplining adventure park, where you’re strapped onto a cable and sail through the rainforest like a bird, sometimes at heights of 300 feet plus, speeds of 40 miles per hour plus and distances of up to 1 kilometer. My previous experience with my son and heights had been trying to put him on my shoulders and having him end up crying for 15 minutes because he thought I was being mean and exposing him to grave danger, or throwing him up in the air and causing similar hysteria. I thought to myself, there is NO WAY this kid is going to do this circuit of ziplining, but to humor him, we had him strap on all the equipment, go through the orientation and go to the starting point with us.
Wow, was I wrong! He was literally the first person of thirty on the first cable, with a professional guide who did not give him even one second to react or become scared. He was literally whisked away from us before we were given the opportunity to say “good luck” or inadvertently show him the fear we felt for him — and for ourselves — let’s be real, this whole concept is crazy. As it turned out, I think he enjoyed the experience more than anyone on the trip. That trip he also rode a horse solo for the first time (in the mountains, to boot), again with the help and guidance of an experienced guide. He also climbed to the top of some amazing waterfalls, daring some pretty scary cliffs in the process. On this trip, he kind of came into his own as a member of our adventurous family. By the way, he is five years old.
Ok, now let’s transition to starting your own business, to becoming an entrepreneur and pursing your dreams. Does it feel a little like stepping off a perfectly safe platform and trying to “fly” to places where you suspect no sane person has ever gone? Does it feel a little like getting on a horse for the first time, where you don’t know if this beast is going to give you the best and most exciting and rewarding experience of your life, or throw you to your iminient death or paralysis? Is it a bit like trying to reach the most beautiful waterfalls and natural swimming pools you’ve ever seen, where few have ever visited, but in the meantime having to brave cliffs and a tortuous climb, the likes of which you have never even come close to? I would say the answers to these questions are an unequivocal yes, but then again, I took that plunge into entrepreneurship so long ago — 30 plus years now — that it’s a bit hard for me to remember. Fortunately though, I stay in touch with a lot of startup and early stage entrepreneurs, so I’m quite sure the answers to these questions are YES, YES, and YES.
So what does all this mean to you as a first time entrepreneur or even as a veteran entrepreneur? NEVER lose the spirit of adventure or the willingness to try new things. That being said, do not approach your entrepreneurial adventures in a foolhardy manner. Just as you wouldn’t climb a tough mountain without some quality planning and depending just how tough a mountain, an experienced guide and some equipment, DO NOT do so with your entrepreneurial ventures either. One article I wrote relatively recently, which is a good guide if you’re at the very beginning of your journey, trying to distinguish between ideas and real opportunities, can be found here. It includes a free tool you can use to screen your business ideas.
Pursue your dreams as an entrepreneur. You will then not have to wonder what could have been.
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Yours in entrepreneurship,