Is This Mic On? [Tap-Tap] Hello? Oh, Hey, There You Are … My Kinda Person: The UnFAILING Entrepreneur

Struggle to rise. Wobble. Clutch for something… anything to grab onto. Miss. Topple over.

Rinse and repeat.

Ever watch an infant learning to walk? They don’t just get up and stand on steady feet, smile, and never look back. No, it takes time. But more than that, it requires the development of muscle and skill.

On rare occasions, you might find a baby who just grabs onto the edge of a coffee table or stool, rights herself, and starts running without ever falling.

Well, no. You won’t. That never happens. Ever.

Being an entrepreneur is very much the same thing. For the beginning part of your life -no matter how young or old or in-between you are (and see yourself), most of it was spent doing what?

Crawling.

Learning the ropes, getting a handle on this thing called life, then those pesky hormone-crazed teenage years, and then the new freedoms that come with adulthood (along with those other pesky things called -dare I say it- r.e.s.p.o.n.s.i.b.i.l.i.t.i.e.s).

How often have you ever thought about your life to this point as just another form of crawling? I’ve known entrepreneurial-minded people for decades, from those aforementioned teenagers to seniors pushing 80 (and, on rare occasions, those heading rapidly into 90s territory).

It doesn’t matter. Whether you haven’t yet grabbed hold of that blessed document, that simple sheet of paper that verifies you completed a predetermined level of education to earn your high school diploma (or GED) or worked for a company your entire adult life until retirement, it has all been one long experience in crawling.

Getting a handle on life. Getting to know the rules. Observing. Watching. Waiting.

Now, though, you understand it’s time to get moving, that crawling isn’t getting you where you want to be. Or, if you somehow managed to get there, it wasn’t nearly fast enough and that cookie or toy or other item that drew your attention and determination is gone.

Someone else grabbed it.

Maybe it was another kid. A sibling. Or mom put it away. Or grandpa ate that blessed snack. Or the babysitter never thought twice about whether you’d want that soothing rattle.

All those people represent the forces in your life that have kept you away from your dreams. Yet, most of it all comes down to this: no one… and I mean no one can stop you from pursuing and achieving your dreams save one: you.

Now, what about this ‘falling down’ thing?

I’m glad you asked.

This is not my first rodeo. It’s not the first time I’ve gone down this road starting this blog and podcast venture. I’ve done it before.

However, due to certain professional limitations (working in certain government bodies and agencies, I was denied the freedom to do certain things, even on my own time), I let this go.

I toppled over. And as I was getting set to relaunch Success Crumbs, I contemplated just how many times I had focused on getting this off the ground, how many times I put in dozens and even hundreds of hours, spent thousands of dollars for various services, and more… all to simply watch it fizzle and fade.

I failed far more than I cared to admit, even to myself. It’s not a pleasant pill to swallow when you (finally) realize you’ve failed far more at something than you ever imagined was possible.

At the same time, though, it’s a blessing. Why? Because you learn as you do this, as you topple over and have to regain your bearings and then start dragging yourself back to your feet, that each time you’re getting stronger.

Most would-be entrepreneurs don’t. They fall down and stay there. They cry. They throw a tantrum. They say things like, “I can<t do this”, “It’s not possible” or, “The big, mean, rich companies or people have all the power. I don’t stand a chance!”

Nonsense. But I’ll touch on that topic in a separate blog.

Were they truly ‘entrepreneurs’?

This is a very important question. You need to ask this of yourself at times, too. If a person who desires or claims to want to be an entrepreneur stumbles and fails, but then gives up after one or two setbacks, were they truly an entrepreneur?

I won’t answer that for you. What I will say, though, if they could have been, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say they were merely dreamers?

Dreamers see the world much differently than the ones who succeed. They see the world full of possibility, but then when the going gets tough, they see the thorns and the potholes, sinkholes, and armies lined up against them.

Dreamers revert back to their dreams, don’t they? Entrepreneurs are warriors. We step on the field knowing this is a war, not simply one battle. In nearly every war that’s ever been waged for whatever reason, no side won all the battles.

They win some, they lose others, but it’s in those defeats that victory begins to be forged. It’s in those defeats that the generals, the leaders recognize where and why they failed and make adjustments. They study the battlefield, their enemy, and themselves.

Dreamers bask in the glow of make-believe victory, of unicorns and leprechauns ready to hand out gold for simply showing up.

Don’t misunderstand me, though. Dreamers are vital. You are a dreamer. You don’t step on the battlefield as an entrepreneur without a dream of something better, something that’s truly yours.

The difference, though, is that while you started this journey based on a dream, you have the fortitude to press on. And that’s where I want to go with this blog: pressing on.

What does it mean to ‘press on’?

If you ever have kids (had them) or know someone with a baby who hasn’t yet learned to walk, take an opportunity to watch them, if you can. Notice how their legs shake and rattle while they learn to steady themselves.

All those dozens of muscles and tendons and joints growing stronger with each effort to stand up straight and take those first tepid steps.

Watch what happens when the baby falls down. Hopefully, they’re on a relatively soft surface, but babies generally have quite a bit more body fat than we have (or should) as adults. Built-in cushioning, my friend, because they are genetically designed to survive these challenges.

Sometimes the baby will cry, but mostly only if he or she is hurt as a result. Most of the time the baby will merely look around, roll and try to get her legs back under her, then find something to pull himself back up with, like a coffee table or chair.

And they’ll do it all over again.

There’s no quit in a baby who wants to walk. Sure, they may get tired or cranky after a while, but neither mom nor dad nor any other caregiver will be able to keep that baby from learning to walk. And the most amazing thing? They don’t have to teach the infant how to do it: they just go and learn as they fail and succeed.

That’s really the best definition of pressing on.

About 2,000 years ago, a young teacher named Jesus gathered around Himself children. His disciples attempted to rebuke the children and usher them away, perhaps worried that they would just weary an already tired man who spent most of His days healing and teaching men and women throughout the land. Instead, Jesus drew the children to Himself and said, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to these little ones.’

Why?

Did He mean that only children were getting into Heaven? No. He meant that it was necessary to come with childlike faith, to let go of your adult perceptions and prejudices.

We can learn a great deal by observing children. Kids who aren’t taught to hate others because of their skin tone, gender, where they live, what kind of car their parents drive, or any other factors will play with just about anyone. They will be friends with every kid if they could.

Hate is taught. So is giving up.

Think about it: what are some of the reasons a child will stop trying to do something? Because mom or dad tells them to. Maybe they see danger where the child sees opportunity. Maybe they focus on the risks instead of the rewards. Maybe they don’t want to help anymore but want to rest after a long day of work.

Children can get frustrated, no doubt about that, but if they are encouraged, they tend to keep trying at something. They press on to learn how to climb the slide, hit the ball, or win at tag.

An infant will press on to learn how to maintain balance on their feet, then move those feet, one after the other. They will press on when trying to run, even though they’ll fall down again and again.

Did you know that the average child will fall down about two THOUSAND times while learning to walk and run? Two thousand!

If there’s ever been a reason to call it quits after so many failures, that would be it!

But that doesn’t happen. Why? Because that infant, that child knows what they want. They know they’ll get there if they simply keep getting up.

In truth, babies learn to fall before they learn to walk, and there is a reason for this idea, yes?

This is my ‘one more time’ get-up moment.

I could simply pack everything up from Success Crumbs and my podcast and go home. But I’m an entrepreneur at heart. This is who I am.

I can’t give up. I can’t let it go.

Now, thankfully, I have a few gigs that provide me with the freedom to do this the right way. I’ve learned so much along the way, and you will, too, so long as you don’t give up.

As an entrepreneur, you will stumble, lose your balance and your footing, and topple over. It’s probably already happened plenty.

If you give up, then were you really an entrepreneur? Or a dreamer?

Being an entrepreneur is a way of life. It’s something that’s a part of your being, your essence, the person you are. It’s nothing something you want to be … you’re either one … or not.

Like an infant who will learn to fall, before they learn to walk and then run, you won’t be able to stop success from finding you. Or, more accurately, you won’t be able to rest until you’ve made it.

Success isn’t a lavish meal. Not for most. It’s a bunch of crumbs that you gather along the way, tasting each one and getting nourishment, and value from each one.

You’re an entrepreneur. I am, too. Together, we can strengthen one another on this journey.

Are you ready? Great. Grab hold of that coffee table or chair or stool or whatever you can, and let’s stand again.

Together.

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