April 12, 2023

Roughly the thickness of the vinyl coating on a coffee can


The word entrepreneur simply means someone willing to undertake risk.

You don’t have to be a businessperson, brazen careerist, tech startup founder, or even a professional to call yourself one. There’s no official rule that says you have to start a company to qualify.

In fact, psychologists who conduct research on entrepreneurial potential explain that the core skill is a person’s willingness to commit significant resources to a project in the face of uncertainty. They have to make effective use of their risk taking ability and succeed.

Now there’s a subject every student should be required to study at a young age. Talk about a survival skill in this world. If you’re the kind of person who can put themselves on the line, that only makes you more valuable in the marketplace.

Because it’s not about the pursuit of dollars, but the specter of failure.

How often do you undertake risk? Do you consider yourself entrepreneurial?

If that skill is not quite as honed and toned as you’d like it to be, it’s not too late.

One exercise that gave me tons of practice in these endeavors is called the willies. It’s an awareness plan where you focus on your capability to do something, rather than your emotion directed toward the attainment of something.

Say you’re thinking of doing something risky. Nothing extreme like betting your life savings on roulette or mud wrestling with alligators. Can’t help you there.

But something with a significant psychological consequence. Like embarrassment in front of people you like and respect. Or dedicating two weeks of time and energy to a project that might fall flat on its face.

Those results may sound intimidating at first blush. That kind of failure may make you not want to bother in the first place. But entrepreneurial thinking keeps the longview in perspective.

First of all, if these people truly like and respect you, then the fact that you put yourself on the line and tried something psychologically scary to make the company better won’t alienate them. They’re not going to abandon you and leave you lonely and unemployed on the side of the road. Odds are, your undertaking of that risk will only make them appreciate you more.

Hell, there are some companies that hand out awards at the end of the year for the best ideas that didn’t work. That could be you. What an honor!

Second, as for the two weeks of your life that you spent on an idea that failed, do the math. Multiply the average human lifespan by the number of weeks in a year, and those fourteen days you invested on the project will amount to approximately four ten thousandths of your entire life.

Comparatively speaking, that’s roughly the thickness of the vinyl coating on a coffee can.

And so, if you fail, have you really wasted that much time in the grand scheme of things?

Ultimately, by taking this longview when you’re considering backing out, you’ll quickly realize that the risk you’re about to take has a minimal downside.

Meanwhile, your entrepreneurial muscle will only grow stronger.

Are you willing to commit significant resources to a project in the face of uncertainty?