I left my corporate engineering job to start a business while I was young. Everyone told me I was crazy. I was. I was crazy about the possibility of building something lasting, something that would be bigger than myself, something with potential, something that made me feel alive.
I was more concerned with fighting for life than fleeing to comfort.
The best fear-inducing lie has an element of truth to it. There are elements of truth to each of the following “Yeah, but” statements:
Yeah, but… you need experience
Yeah, but… you need to pay off your student loans
Yeah, but… you need to buy a nice place and accumulate nice stuff
The half-truths in these statements are what makes them so dangerous. I could make a really good case against the fear-based lies within each one of them (with experience, pain, and even tears). Unfortunately, that won’t help you, because there will always be another objection to deal with, to dispel, to overcome. And eventually one will find the right fear button to press and hold until you give up and flee to safety.
Life isn’t about avoiding objections. A life of avoiding objections is a life lived according to negative, fear-based outside influences. Life is about being alive to self in the face of fear.
Don’t let your life be ruled by objections, by fear, by opinion. Let your life be guided by intention.
The Secret of Being Alive to Self
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” – The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, regret #1.
Forget the objections. What is the intention of your life? The true to yourself life? What adventures could be waiting for you to say “Yes!” and experience in your lifetime?
The secret of being alive to self is to let yourself have one thing you want so badly that losing all else doesn’t matter. If you have no one goal, you will grasp indiscriminately for everything else to fill that hole. And everything else will fail you.
If you think your goal is money, then you don’t know what your one thing is. You’re letting the allure of the creature comforts, the “everything else” you could buy with that money trick you. Money is nice, but money will stop motivating you when you have enough to be comfortable.
Focus on the reasons you should start a business, not the reasons you shouldn’t.
1. You Will Never Be This Fearless In Your Life Again
When fear overtakes us, our natural tendency is to either flee to comfort or to fight for what we want. The more comfortable we are with life, the more likely we are to choose flight over fight. When you are young, you have not built up creature comforts that you can flee to as a fake replacement for fighting when you should have fought for your one thing.
Business is terribly scary. Accept that now. Set yourself up to be less likely to flee when shit gets real.
There is a very real chance that your first business will be a failure. In fact, some entrepreneurs argue that you’re not really an entrepreneur until you start a new business after one fails. You’ve shown you have enough mettle to fight instead of flee.
2. The Cost of Failure is as Low as It’s Ever Going to Be
When you are running a business, the hardest tradeoff you will have to make is between paying yourself and investing in business growth. That tradeoff can be impossible if you have too many bills and mouths to feed. At almost no other time in your life are you going to have as few responsibilities as when you’re young.
You’ll need less healthcare, less rent, and often less budget for food. You probably still have the beater car you drove through high school or college. You likely haven’t become accustomed and entitled to some of the cushy stuff you might buy yourself when you get that first paycheck. You can put life on hold for a few more years and it won’t materially affect the rest of your life.
There is one myth I will debunk. “Yeah, but, you need experience.” Saying you owned a business is a lot more impressive than saying you were a financial analyst. Most corporate ladder climbers wish they had the courage to try running a business. So the fact that you did it will be particularly impressive to them.
3. Business Ownership Gives you Exhilaration and Adventure
Running a business is exhilarating. It’s harder than just about anything you’ve ever done, but it’s also an adventure of a lifetime. You can’t imagine the highs and lows that come with it until you live through them.
In all honesty, owning a business will have many moments where you say: “I hate this”. The first time you fire someone is going to be one of those. It should be. The first time you screw up and lose a customer is disheartening. The first of many times you realize you have no idea what to do and there’s nobody to tell you what to do can be debilitatingly scary.
For every crushing business disappointment, there will be an equally exhilarating business accomplishment.
The first sale you make is going to be exhilarating. The first time you make a great hire is going to impact you, your new hire, and all of your customers. The first time you have a customer thanking you with tears in their eyes can never be replaced. But most of all, seeing the thing that you built with sweat, tears, lack of sleep, and even blood, will be the greatest adventure of all.
If you’ve ever heard stories about office drama, this is why that happens. Drama is a result of people having nothing big enough in life to put the insignificance of a molehill in perspective. People need their lives to be significant, to be worth talking about. If you build a boring life, you’ll talk about nothing like it’s everything because it’s the best story you are able to tell.
Don’t Be a Sucker to Fear and Regret
I have learned to make my decisions based on which option I will likely regret less in ten years. Will I regret trying, even if I fail? Probably not. Will I regret quitting without ever trying? Probably. Most of the time the result of trying and failing is still better than never trying.
The arguments for living a life of exhilaration and intention can be applied at any age. It will be more difficult when you are older and more uncomfortable, but no less rewarding or important. You are never too late.
I can apply the same arguments to many other paths in life. If business ownership is not your path, then figure out what is and don’t flee to the comfort of doing nothing when you encounter fear.
If you are ready to start a business. Ready to try. Ready to overcome your fears. It’s time to learn, time to try, time to surround yourself with people and messages that will encourage you. One way to do that is to sign up to our mailing list for weekly encouragement.
What do you think? Do you have any fears that are stopping you from living your life? Do well-intentioned people tell you what to do based on a projection of their desires? Do you have people who believe in being alive to self more than being safe and comfortable?