It always amazes me, looking back on my life as an entrepreneur, that I did my worst work when I was at the top of my game. That’s right; I also did my best when I was at my worst. Back then I thought that I was just lazy when I was comfortable, but the day came that I understood this as a source of power and success.
If everything were running smoothly and resources were in abundance, I lost all motivation. For the longest time I thought that only under desperation could I find creativity and motivation. If you bankrupted me and locked me inside of a cockroach-infested, crappy apartment, with nothing more than a cell phone, laptop, Internet connection, and 13 cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli without a can opener, you would be absolutely amazed at what I can make happen. I would figure out how to open the ravioli with my cell phone, and within a week deposits would start appearing in my PayPal account. I thought this was simply my survival mechanism kicking in. As it turned out, I was neither lazy nor motivated by primitive survival instincts. It is actually a personality trait that few have and even fewer understand.
This isn’t about being able to get stuff done when times are tough. I will spare you that speech, because lots of people have written about that topic already. What I am talking about is where a person gets their motivation from. Is it generated from internal or external validation? That is the million dollar question. The mark of a true entrepreneur is that all motivation is a result of internal validation.
A normal person is motivated by external validation. Most people without resources have nothing to draw validation from and they cannot get excited enough to accomplish starting a business. Simply put, they cannot find the motivation to figure out how to build something out of nothing. Give that person a large office, nice business cards, and an important title and they tend to get moving and behave in a way that is congruent with that external validation. The biggest problem occurs when external validation is given to them, rather than earned by them. They then boss people around without actually knowing what they are talking about, resulting in the business falling apart under misdirection. This is why an average person fails at starting a business. They either can’t find the motivation to start from scratch or, if they get lucky and have some resources fall into their lap, they never learn how to build resources, which is what entrepreneurship is all about. The most common thing I see when non-entrepreneurs try to start companies is that money gets squandered to buy stuff that gives them external validation. These are the people who go bankrupt paying for huge office space that they do not need. The only thing they succeed at is building nothing out of something as they exhaust their resources without building mechanisms for profit. The funniest thing to me is that as the business fails, all of their external validation starts to disappear and with it their power at the very time they need it most. Their need for external validation guarantees their failure.
Then there exists a rare breed, the entrepreneur. This is the kind of person who truly can build something out of nothing. The entrepreneur gets his motivation from internal validation. It makes no difference to his self value if he is running things from a one-room apartment or the top floor of a skyscraper. He will be called arrogant and egotistical because he sees his value only inside of himself; he considers his circumstances and assets irrelevant. He believes that he has the power to create money out of nothing and his motivation for success is showing that belief to be true. For him, it’s not what he has; it is what he can do, and once that is done, he can have anything.
Now that you understand that a true entrepreneur is motivated by his internal validation, I will explain what people see as laziness, loss of interest, and lack of motivation once their businesses get going. The entrepreneur gets excited about being able to do what more than 99% of the people on this planet cannot do, create something out of nothing. True entrepreneurs lose interest when the process turns into building something out of something because they see that as a goal anyone could accomplish, so it doesn’t feed their ego in the same way. They are excited only by the difficult things that only they can pull off. The true entrepreneur is a fire starter. After things get going, they hand it off to the management they put in place and leave to start another business. They start that new business with nothing. They understand the power in doing this and know that the man who needs “no thing” has “no thing” holding him back. He gets his validation internally. That internal validation gets satisfaction from being able to create things out of “no thing” – that is the magic!
Consider for a moment that the game of life is won not by getting more, but by being more. Focus on being more and you will see that making silly amounts of money and dating ridiculously attractive women comes easy.
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