The Harvard Business Review published an insightful article likening entrepreneurship to a disease. The the articles author Jeff Stibel says “I liken entrepreneurism to a disease. Having it myself, I am not always sure it is a good thing. That so many people wish to suffer from it just tells me they don’t understand it.”
Not unlike people who are passionate about music, art, or science, he points out “Entrepreneurs are all in, all the time. Entrepreneurs love what they do and obsess over it. It is a predisposition; a path that has already been laid for you. It is a character trait, a labor of love, a zeal that cannot be trained, a condition that cannot be treated, an illness that cannot be caught. You’ve either got it or you don’t.”
Here are some questions to see if you have it:
In my opinion, these questions provide more of a context than a clue as to whether you are going to have success. If you take a shower and shave before you leave, it will not disqualify you from success. On the other hand there are many people who can answer yes to the above questions, and have not had, nor never will have the kind of success they seek.
Most people I meet want to be able to answer yes to these questions about something in their life. If it is not human nature, it is certainly a common yearning here in the U.S. to want to feel this engaged and committed to something. For some it is business, religion, painting, music, helping others. – how nice it would be if we got paid for it as well.
You really want to question whether it is in alignment with who you are? Are you wired this way? For me to announce that I am going to become a calculus professor, and to put all of my energy and resources into becoming one; while might be possible, would be a misuse of my talent, skills, and energy. Math has never been and never will be my subject. On the other hand, business, ideas, mindfulness, personal development, strategy, engage my heart and soul. I have stayed up all night, and days on end, and not answered phones when working on these projects. But so does a future rockstar willing to travel from city to city, club to club, for days on end to play in front of live audiences, as does an author at work on their next book. It is this sort of engagement that makes us feel most alive.
These are good questions for anyone considering undertaking something that requires the amount psychic and physical energy it takes to start a business, or be successful at most things. However, some times you will just need to try it and see how much committed you really are.
FOUR QUESTIONS TO CONNECT WITH WHAT INSPIRES YOU
Some time ago I read that if two people are up for a job promotion, with one of the candidates being slightly more qualified, and the other candidate more enthusiastic, 80% of the time the more enthusiastic person gets the promotion.
I could never quite label it as such, but during my time in corporate America, this is what I witnessed. As I spoke with clients, and current, and former colleagues, the majority all seem to agree that this is true.
I wanted to learn a little more about why this may be and started with a bit of research into the word enthusiasm, whose greek origins mean the God within. Some of the older defintions of enthusiasm are to be inspired. A little more obvious, the defintion of inspired is the spirit within or to breathe life into. The words have very similar meanings.
Everyone loves to be around inspiring people, and it stands to reason the most inspiring people are inspired by something or someone themselves. Inspiring people are energizing, creative, and often just being around them elicits a sense of urgency about being one’s best, fulfilling your purpose, using your talents.
This notion of feeling inspired was a catalyst in my becoming a coach. I didn’t want to settle for just okay, cool, or good. I know I am in the right profession because I feel inspired ever day to be a better coach, I , to expand my knowledge, so I can help people get out of their professional suffering and find their own inspiration. It is a natural energy that comes to me, not one that I have to force. This doesn’t mean it is without challenges, however, I hardly ever feel like I am working. Tuesday or Saturday, it’s all the same to me.
When one embarks on the path of seeking work they feel passionate about or that has meaning, it is easy to approach it as if it is a secret the universe is keeping from you. It is much simpler than that, here are some tips questions and thoughts to open it up for you.
First, for simplicity’s sake, let’s talk about inspired as when you feel most alive. When it feels like energy is surging through you, and you want to be your best.
Who is a person living or dead, that when you read about or come in contact with, you start to think and feel you want to be your best, or want to go out in the world and do great things?
Most people recognize the profundity of coming across inspiring people. Some of the most inspiring people I have encountered, I never even met in person. I have read or watched a story about them, came across something they created or had been told about them. In some cases they have been activists, entertainers, writers, coaches, entrepreneurs, young, old, male, females, from all races. I am sure there are many more for me to meet.
One quality they all seem to share is that they are committed to something bigger than themselves, which manifest in many different ways. At times it has been a musician, actor, or other entertainer, who clearly has made the committment to practicing their craft, which is evident by their masterful performance. I have been inspired by reading something, it could be the author, subject, or excellence of the writing that inspires. Social and community activists that have risked their lives, and safety for causes they believe in are very inspiring.
What are the topics that inspire you? This is not about altruism, it is not about judgement, there is no right answer. I am constantly inspired by other entrepreneurs and business people for their courage, determination and creativity. Their ability to take an idea, and manifest a business out of nothing. I have always always loved personal development, and spiritual topics. It was the recognition I could get paid for working with these subjects, that clinched my decision to become a coach.
What are the activities that when you are engaged in them, you feel most alive? When is it that you feel truly connected with the present moment? Are you playing an instrument? Writing? Sharing? Teaching? Talking? Painting? Healing? Comforting? Nurturing? Walking? Exercising? Cooking?
Writing this piece about inspiration and inspiring people is inspiring for me. The notion, that it might serve as one small step in a journey that helps someone else find their inspiration gets my juices flowing. What could be a better mission, than helping individuals discover and connect with their own inspiration? After all the world definitely could use more inspired people.
Where do you feel your best? Is it in a museum? Which museum? Is it in nature, the woods, beach, or snow capped mountains? Is it the bustling energy of a major city, or the cracking of ocean waves? Go wherever it is you feel most inspired, and think about what/who else inspires you?
It’s easy to understand why enthusiastic people get hired. Inspiration is the fuel for greatness, it is energy and committment that cannot be bought. It is contagious you cannot force yourself or someone else to be inspired, but you can inspire them.
Keep an eye out, as we delve more into inspiration in moving forward, with more discussion, and profiles and interviews with truly inspiring people.
Please post who/what/where inspires you here. We want to know.
Don’t watch this video now. Save it for when you feel like you can’t get out of bed in the morning to start your day.
Meet Nick Vujicic:
Career Freedom in it’s most basic form is exercising your power to choose, what you do, when you do it, and how you go about doing it. Many like to take the position that they do not have a choice when it comes to their career, that they are some sort of trap because of financial, family or other reasons. They are still making a choice to put whatever it is over the choice concern their work. The key to freedom here is being aware of where you have choices that you previously did not see, and perhaps making different choices.
Career like almost any other endeavor in life, can be looked at as a game. Most people are in career games they did not consciously choose ,or chose for the wrong reasons. Everyone in their family is a doctor, so they became one; or they chose if because it was lucrative, or for one of many other reasons.
They are playing the game of wealth, status, and prestige. A game that has been handed to them. Unfortunately this is a game that relatively few people win. If everyone could win that wouldn’t be very much fun. It is no surprise that so many people suffer from work related stress illness, ranging from discontentment to hatred ,or even depression over their work.
People feel trapped to some degree; they don’t see they can make the decision to start playing a different game. Choosing the game you are in, and what you are playing for is a huge responsibility, it would mean freedom. Pursuing what you want, not what your parents want for you, teachers think is best for you, or the media suggests you should want. In the end this is the only type of game worth playing, a game whose outcome is intrinsically important to the individual playing it.
As in traditional games, not only does winning have to be important to you, but playing well does too. While winning is much more fun, you can still do really well, play great, and not have the highest score. I wouldn’t mind the payout the losing team at the Super Bowl or World Series receives.
Playing to win requires perseverance, courage, and heart, which you can only sustain when something is intrinsically important to you, it connects to who you are at your essence;
So how does one figure this out. I have had clients that figured it out in a couple of weeks and others have taken longer. The process of discovering can be played like a game as well. Before you can even name the game, consider what winning looks like? If you were looking back one year from now, and your situation was perfect what would it be like? What would it feel like? How would you know that you were winning your career game?
What would have to happen for you to win?
Taking this on is not for everyone. It requires a strong commitment and can be challenging at times. After all it were too easy, that wouldn’t be a game worth playing. If you take this path, there will be lots of distractions and pressure to play a game someone else thinks you should play, a game that seems like it has an easy pay off, although it will be on someone else’s terms.
Consider this quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 18th Century German Poet: “Concerning acts of initiative there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic in it.”
In a feature that aired on CBS News “Sunday Morning” they point out:
The copy machine was invented in 1937, but the idea was rejected by the likes of GE and IBM. It would be 10 years before Xerox’s machine would make its debut. John Grisham’s first novel was rejected by a dozen publishing houses … and Henry Ford went bankrupt 5 times.
Feeling a little low on your capabilities or self-confidence? This kid in this short video has the best attitude.
TED started as an invitation only conference in the 1980’s; bringing together the most innovative minds from Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It continues today, with selected guests invited to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. While these talks were initially only heard by those in attendance, the evolution of the web sparked the creation of Ted Talks, a video archive of these presentations. They have graciously made them available to the public.
These speakers are not just leaders in their fields, they are the trailblazers knocking down the walls of conformity. They are using their position, gifts, talent, resources and knowledge to make the world a better place.
The talks are classified in categories that you don’t ordinarily see on other sites. They include “most jaw-dropping” which is led by Blaise Aguera Y Arcas, co-creator of Photosynth a monumental piece of software capable of assembling statis photos into a synergy of zoomable navigatable spaces.
Deborah Scranton who tops the “most courageous” category shows clips and discusses her film “The War Tapes” which documents putting cameras in the hands of a unit of The New Hampshire National Guard for one year while in Iraq
The “most inspiring” category includes Richard St. John who spent more than a decade researching the secrets of success — and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book; Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich: Spike’s Guide to Success
There is a dose of inspiration here for anyone and everyone.
60 Minutes did a segment on Happiness.
Here is a 12 minute excerpt, followed by some highlights from this episode and some additional perspectives on how to be happy.
Denmark tops the list of the happiest country in the world. The segment takes a look at what makes Danes so happy. As one of the researchers puts it, this may be due to the Danes modest expectations. It may also have to do with the fact that college students get paid to go to school, a dad gets paid for 6 months to stay home and care for his child, free healthcare for all, subsidized child care, and 6 weeks vacation. As one of the Danish college students interviewed for the segment “we are secured from the day we are born.” The average tax rate though is about 50%.Some Danish college students state what is important to them, work they enjoy, time with their families, low stress, and one of the students offers advice to Americans “don’t depend too much on the American Dream, you might get disappointed.” I don’t agree with the notion not to attempt something because you could fail.U.S. comes in as the 23rd happiest country. Dont worry we come in ahead of Iraq.Tal Ben Shahar a professor and researcher at Harvard University teaches the “most popular course on campus; “Positive Psychology”. He is also the author of the recently released “Happier”. He suggests Americans would not be willing to pay a 50% tax rate for the lifestyle the Danes have. Americans have higher expectations a “want it all” mentality focused on material things, which does not make one happier. He loosely defines happy as the intersection between doing something that has meaning to us and which gives us pleasure.Ben Shahar offers 5 easy steps to happiness:
Shahar goes on to say that the number one predictor of well-being is close friendships and relationships in general.
60 Minutes is not the only media outlet covering happiness as of late.
Good Morning America and 20/20 both did stories just last month on Happiness. GMA Interviewed UC Riverside Professor and Sonja Lyubomirsky; author of the recently released “The How of Happiness.”
Her research shows “If we observe genuinely happy people, we shall find that they do not just sit around being contented. They make things happen. They pursue new understandings, seek new achievements, and control their thoughts and feelings. In sum, our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are, over and above the effects of our set points and the circumstances in which we find oursselves.” Based on her findings she offers 12 scientific strategies for happiness. ABC News has an excerpt of her book available.
This academic and scientific research on happiness stems from Positive Psychology, founded by Dr. Martin Seligman; Director of the Positive Psychology Center at The University of Pennsylvania. On their Authentic Happiness Website there are free questionaires which will measure different degrees of happiness, character, and other related areas.
I have great respect for the area of positive psychology. It serves as part of the foundation for the Life Coaching that I am trained in. While the academic research and findings are quite interesting, this look at Happiness would not be complete without mentioning “The Art Of The Happiness” by The Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard Cutler. The book is a dialogue between the two authors. While not free of modern science and research, the core premises of this book are steeped in Buddhism.
These premises are:
Gretchen Rubin is a New York City based author an fellow blogger, currently working on a book called “ The Happiness Project”. It states on her blog that it will be “a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier.”
So while there are a number of different perspectives and the subject of happiness is on a lot of people’s minds, with varying conclusions. One take-away for me is that so much of it has to do with our own attitude. The way that we choose to see things. The glass half-full or half-empty perspective. Do you need to have what you want, or want what you already have to be happy?
In 1945 Gunder Hagg of Sweden set the world record for running the fastest mile at just over 4:01. The record remaining static for almost 9 years, purpotrating a myth that it may just be impossible for a human to run a mile in less than 4 minutes.
It is evident that not everyone believed it was impossible, as there were a number of runners feverishly competing to be the first run a mile in less than 4 minutes. One of these runners, Roger Bannister set the world record in 1954 by running a mile in 3:59:04. Interestingly, almost 2 months later John Landy beat Bannister’s record. Later Bannister bested his own and Landy’s record in a race with Landy who also set a new personal record. Was this just a coincidence?
This story illustrates how important it is to question our own self-limiting beliefs, and the constraints that others may attempt to place on us. There may have been an almost famous runner who decided not to attempt a 4 minute mile because he bought into the idea it was not possible Regardless, of how ingrained a belief may be in our minds, culture, community, or society it is worth challenging these beliefs.
If all believed that a 4 minute mile was impossible, Bannister nor anyone else may have never set that record. It is interesting to note that once he broke this barrier, other runners followed suit. His achievment opened up the idea that it was possible for others as well. The current record is just under 3:45 having been set in 1999.
What do you believe is impossible? What would happen if you believed it was possible?
Fast Company published 18 of the most innovative business minds of the past year. There are some familiar names on the list and some new. Regardless of the industry you are in, chances are you will find someone on this list who inspires you.
Included is Timothy Ferris; Author of The Four Hour Work Week.
Ferriss is a Princeton University guest lecturer in High-Tech Entrepreneurship, the first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango, a national Chinese kickboxing champion, and even a MTV breakdancer in Taiwan. But, what he’s most known for is his 80-20 principle, suggesting that people outsource everyday tasks. He adds, “I’m asking some important and long-avoided questions that make people uncomfortable.”
Follow this link for the other honorees;