At the time I’m writing this, my soon-to-be 16-year-old grandson is struggling to finish his service project to earn his Eagle Scout award. This project has been tough for him. He had computer issues and lost all his notes not once, but twice. This has been a tough lesson for him in not downloading stuff that contains viruses. He has watched friends obtain their Eagle award with projects that were much less rigorous than his, and where adults were more involved in the planning and preparation. To him, this has been unfair. He has wanted to quit – not just the project but abandoning the whole process of earning his Eagle award. Frustration has boiled over and turned into indifference. We continue to encourage and support him and by the time school starts he will be finished . . . we hope.
My overarching message to our grandson has not been how important it is to earn the coveted Eagle Scout award – he wonders if it really is all that coveted. No, the primary message has been to finish what you start. Do not quit. I have explained in the strongest terms that quitting at this early age sets a pattern for the rest of his life. Quit now and it will be easier the next time to quit then.
Watching our grandson’s trials and tribulations reminds me of the many parallels with the entrepreneurial world. There are two primary elements that emerge from our grandson’s Eagle project experience for which entrepreneurs should take to heart. The first is quitting. And the second is playing the victim.
The entrepreneurial game is a rough and tumble experience. We entrepreneurs get kicked in the teeth (and elsewhere!) every single day. There are times when we wonder if it’s all worth it. The constant slog; getting beaten up by customers, vendors, team members, and investors; losing more than winning; and taking two steps forward and three steps backward. Maybe it would just be easy to throw in the towel and go do something else. But we don’t. We develop thick skin and great resilience. We persevere and continue to get off the ground and get back on the horse – over and over and over again. Why? Because we know that eventually we’ll figure out a way to succeed. As the years go by, we become smarter at our game and don’t rely so much on “muscling through” the tough times. I know there were times as a child that I wanted to quit something. Fortunately, my parents would not let me just as I’m not going to allow my grandson to quit. For those who have children, it’s critically important to help your son or daughter develop the stick-to-it mindset that will serve him or her well as an adult.
The other element I mentioned is that of playing the victim. During one of my rah-rah speeches, I told our grandson that he need not worry about how others are playing the game. It’s the same speech I give to any entrepreneur who wishes to listen. Life is unfair – it always has been and always will be. When we focus on how someone else is being treated and perceive that we’re getting the short end of the stick, we lose the focus that we need to succeed. We are buying into a sort of victim mentality. In the long run, I’ve always found that doing things the right way with integrity is always rewarded. It’s sad to say that too many people in society today seem to be fixated on how others are winning rather than figuring out for themselves how to succeed.
Successful entrepreneurs are not quitters. Their focus is on what it will take to accomplish their goals and objectives without comparing their circumstances to those of others.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.