Sure, there are many different types of people in the world, but when you really get down to the basics, there are merely three: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what just happened.
It’s an old joke, but it pertains directly to the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s what truly separates those energetic people who pursue their own dreams, who dive into unknown (and often unclear) waters because they believe and have hope from those who go along with the flow, who honestly believe they’re better off just working for someone else.
The vast majority of people in this world fall into the category of those who watch things happen. These are your dedicated, lazy, or even timid individuals. It could be the mid-level manager at a major corporation who arrives at the office at 8 am sharp every day, puts in his 10 hours, then heads home through another nightmare mess of rush hour traffic. It could be the entry-level data clerk who has aspirations of climbing the ladder of success, working her way up to the top to one day become an executive in the company. It could be the person busting tables at a local diner because he doesn’t have the ambition to do much else.
These are the people who take the table scraps someone else tosses down to them. They are limited in their potential.
But wait, you might be saying, what about the person who becomes a high-level executive? What about them? They’re making more than table scraps!
Perhaps. And that just might be fine for them, but they will have always worked for someone else. They are beholden to the company their entire life. We’ve seen it time and time again in recent years how companies hide debts, use deceptive practices to make it appear as though they’re better off than they are, and then boom … the bottom drops out and all those pensions –those retirement pensions- are obliterated, leaving everyone, including that executive, with nothing.
Does it happen all the time? No, of course not, but it’s happening more and more lately.
Those are the people who watch things happen. They may work hard, they may be motivated and driven, but they are working for someone else’s gain. Their creativity and potential are limited.
Not you. You want something more. You want to be the person who makes things happen.
You want to take charge of your own life. You want to set your own working hours. You want to decide the course of your future at every turn.
You’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit.
What Is the Entrepreneurial Spirit?
The word ‘entrepreneur’ means a person who organizes and operates a business, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
You’re going to be taking on tremendous financial risks, but that leads to greater potential for reward in the future. The entrepreneurial spirit is what drives you. It’s what beckons you in the middle of the night, telling you that idea you’ve had kicking around in your head for the past few years is worth it.
It’s the patient whisper urging you to start your own business, break away from the chains of the 9 to 5 workday, to take complete control of your future and your potential.
The entrepreneurial spirit is usually sparked with a small idea. It blossoms and grows over time until it’s either snuffed out or coaxed into a full-blown fire.
What can snuff out the flames? People telling you to not even think about it. Those friends, family members, or coworkers who mean well when they say, “What are you thinking about?”
What are you thinking about?
Trying to come up with an answer to that question often deters people from pursuing those dreams. We’re often instilled with an idea from early on in life that those around us, our family and friends, know what’s best and we should listen to their ‘voices of reason.’
Think about it. When you were a child and your mother didn’t want you doing something because you’d get hurt and you did it anyway (and got hurt), what did she say? “I told you so. Didn’t I warn you? When are you going to listen to me?”
Taking chances in life is often directly correlated to being reckless. It’s a dangerous world and you should just play it safe. Go the college, spend the first couple of years taking electives and experimenting, trying to figure out what you enjoy, and then pick a major. Graduate and work for a company, one that offers you an opportunity for growth.
One that’s safe.
Sure, then wake up one day in your 40s or 50s and realize how unhappy you are and how quickly life is passing you by.
Whether you’re in your teens, 20s, 40s, 60s, or any other age, it’s never too early or late to grasp onto that entrepreneurial spirit.
It is within you. All the time. You just need to be willing and able to listen to and hear it. Also, realize you’re not alone!
That’s right. You are not alone in what you’re feeling, whether it’s hope, fear, excitement, trepidation, motivation, anxiety … every single entrepreneur went through the same mixing bowl of emotions.
And you know what else? Most of them failed. Believe it or not, the vast majority of today’s most successful entrepreneurs have failed … more than once. It’s estimated that Thomas Edison failed to make a working light bulb thousands of times before he got it right.
He didn’t see those attempts as failures, though. He saw them as finding other ways to not do it.
Colonel Harland David Sanders … ever heard of him? Sure you have. He founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. He didn’t just jump up out of bed one day and walk to his brand new successful restaurant. He was a steam engine stoker (hot, sweaty, back-breaking work), an insurance salesman, and even a filling station operator (a gas jockey). Then one day he began selling fried chicken at a roadside stand during the Great Depression.
What was he thinking? Would anyone in their right mind even think that would be a good idea? What do you think his family told him?
“Go back to pumping gas. At least it’s a paycheck!”
I’m sure it does. But no, he wasn’t content with a paycheck. Those things are everywhere. He was driven by something deep within, something you can shake free from. That, my friends, is the entrepreneurial spirit.
So what are the keys that drive the entrepreneur?
There are several.
Do you have to possess all of these keys? Maybe, maybe not, but you’d better have most.
This is arguably the most important factor that drives an entrepreneur. You have to possess a solid desire to be successful on your own. Maybe you have an idea for a product. Perhaps you believe you can offer a great service to those around you.
Whatever it is, that desire will begin to grow within you. Without desire, there’s no point pursuing the dream.
Desire is an insatiable thirst to become something more, to do something greater, and to be successful in life on your own terms.
Is that you?
Far too many ambitious but misguided entrepreneurs believe that following trends is the way to success. It’s not.
You need to have a true passion for what you do. While you may believe pushing the latest energy drink is the way to go or establishing a new type of fitness gym will help you achieve success, if you’re not passionate about it, you’re going to fall short.
There are going to be long days and nights without much apparent success and when you don’t possess passion for what you’re doing, you’ll skip the work, put it off until later, and then be more inclined to procrastinate again.
That never leads to success.
You need passion for what you do.
When you’re sick, worn out, or exhausted, you could probably call in sick to your regular job. You can’t do that when you’re an entrepreneur.
Every minute of every day matters to your short and long-term goals. You absolutely must remain persistent, even in the face of criticism, questions, mocking, and failure.
You are going to fail. Accept that fact right now. The trick is to learn from those failures, make adjustments, and become stronger in the end.
That persistence will pay off. It’s often the entrepreneurs who are the most persistent who ultimately succeed.
Determination is the long focus aspect of hard work. It extends beyond persistence. When you’re determined, you’re not going to allow failures to stop you. The determined entrepreneur is going to push forth because he believes in himself, she knows exactly what she’s doing, they understand the end goals.
There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that states: when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
Well, when the entrepreneur is ready, the mentor will appear.
Everyone needs a teacher, a coach, a mentor. Even entrepreneurs. These are the people who’ve been there, done that. When you’re ready to take advantage of this new opportunity, envelope yourself in the wisdom of others. Surround yourself with successful people.
And you will find strength from them to take those first, tepid, unknown steps.
Isn’t it exciting?
Joseph is a senior advisor at the Senate of Canada. Joseph enjoys writing, blogging and teaching. You can follow Joseph via Twitter @josephsoares.