If I’m honest, I’m writing this because I’ve not had a particularly good week. And I’m writing this post more to remind myself of my core philosophies than to preach to anybody. But if anybody else gets anything out of this, then I’m very glad to help. We all have a rough and negative patch from time to time. And during those times, it’s important not to lose focus. To keep our eyes on the prize, so to speak. To keep the faith.
And neither was Microsoft, Virgin, Facebook or anybody else’s dream. And the chances are that yours won’t be either. But, as the old saying continues, “they laid bricks every hour”. Those who get the things they want in their lives are the people who don’t quit. The people who won’t take no for an answer. On a time line long enough, if you work smart, almost anything is inevitable. Persistence usually pays off.
I discovered quite a long time ago that if you’re going to pursue a goal that is deemed unconventional, then you’re going to have to get used to some people thinking you are mad, naive, delusional. Whatever. If I had a pound for every time my mother has told me to ‘grow up’, I’d have a Ferrari parked on my driveway.
People – even people very close to you – are going to say lots of negative things about you and what you are trying to achieve. And if you listen to them, you’ll almost definitely end up giving up. So, if it’s not helpful, ignore it. I’ve chosen the word helpful very carefully.
Notice, I don’t say “If it’s not optimistic, ignore it” or “If it’s not positive, ignore it.” Criticism can be negative but the critic may have a point. So while it sounds negative, it might still be helpful.
But somebody presenting problems and road blocks without solutions, and often no evidence or logic for their negativity, can and should be ignored.
We all have elements of ourselves we’re a bit insecure about it. Whether you think you’re too short, or not well enough connected, or not well funded enough, or whatever it is – if you can’t control it, ignore it.
Because there’s no possible advantage to focusing your energy on the apparent unfairnesses of your situation which you have no control over. Instead, figure out what you CAN control, and work towards making those factors favourable to you.
One of the major problems with Asian culture, I believe, is the way we think about failure. It is not well tolerated. Even though virtually every entrepreneur who has been successful has had a hundred or more failures first.
This is one of the reasons I think that professional jobs like doctor, dentist, pharmacist and accountant are favoured and encouraged. Because as long as you pass your exams at university, your job, the resulting income and the resulting Mercedes, is a virtual dead-cert.
But for those of us who desire something different, success if normally preceded by a string of failures – if that’s what you want to call them.
Your career, my career, every career, is a work in progress.
There’s an old phrase you hear banded around, “I’ll give it a year”. A year isn’t long enough. And very few people ‘make it’ – whatever ‘it’ might be – within a year. The average J curve of a business (a technical term referring to the number of years it takes a company to reach a point at which it can begin delivering a return on investment for its financiers) is 7 years. Now clearly it depends on the type of company, but a year clearly isn’t long enough.
A reasonable person usually accepts the status quo. They accept whatever ‘the done thing’ is. It is an unreasonable person that decides they are not going to do what everybody else is doing; that they are going to create or innovate or invent. Therefore, the world is only ever changed by unreasonable people.
You’re lucky to have a dream. Even though sometimes it can feel like a curse. Because your dream means something very deep. It means that you know who you are. And not everybody does. Many people (I’ve heard) go through life with only a vague idea of what they want out of it. And when you put it like that, I know which camp I’d rather be in.
Do not ignore it. Chase it with all the energy and passion that you have. You are changing the world.
Because absolutely everything that exists, every building, every gadget, every movie, every song, every pioneering leap in science and technology, everything that has ever been created by anybody, started out as a dream.
Cue cheesy inspirational music…
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