Is Entrepreneurship A Disease?
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:
- Do you wake up before your alarm goes off, hop out of bed excited to go to work? (good)
- Do you race to the car, forgetting breakfast, your morning coffee, and the paper? (better)
- Halfway to work, do you look down, realize you forgot to shower, shave, or get dressed? (great)
- Do you pause for a second, and then decide–what the hell–and head to work anyways? (diagnosis: entrepreneurialism; cure unknown)
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.