I have a friend who started a business because he felt called. This unintentional entrepreneur was not following a career but responding to an inner knowing – a calling.
What’s the difference? He was not ignited by the desire for a paycheck or because of responsibility. When he dreamed, dollar signs and luxury vehicles did not twinkle in his peripheral sight. His definition of success was spurred by something bigger – an opportunity to make a difference while following his heart. A chance to do work that both lights him up & inspires growth in others.
Not all entrepreneurs are driven by a calling. Some are driven by a paycheck; others by freedom. Some simply know they are not wired to follow well. But this breed of entrepreneur who is inspired by a desire to make a difference is part of a fascinating tribe. They are driven by reasons bigger than themselves, and they see a better way for the world. Notice these people. They are the lighthouses. They are the change makers.
Fortunately for the world, there are people like my friend who know what inspires them and who also have the courage to follow the dream with action. They are seed planters; knowing full well that growing a company from the seed of an idea is hard. There is no moment of combustion when your vision simply explodes into reality. It is through long hours, financial risk, and personal sacrifice that you nurture a business from an idea to a fully functioning entity that produces fruit.
My friend took the plunge 5 years ago. He quit his job, poured his retirement savings and energy into a start-up, and then worked tirelessly to bring life to his vision.
I wish I could tell you his story ended with wild success; transforming a community while creating the financial results required to sustain the flywheel. But it didn’t. His business drained his bank account, strained his marriage, and siphoned his energy. On paper, he fits the statistical profile of most start-ups. Launch, experience some wins and losses, and then ultimately, crash land. And ask any entrepreneur who has experienced this start-up lifecycle, “crash landing” is a fairly soft way of explaining the demise.
And so in the world that measures success with binary judgement, his endeavor is labeled as failure. But is it? Can putting yourself out there and following your heart be failure? Can taking a chance on yourself be failure? Isn’t failure just part of the success process? So I know, that while licking his wounds now, my friend will be back. It may take 6 months or 6 years, but once you wake up to a calling, it doesn’t go away simply because of a red number on an income statement. A calling doesn’t die because you ran out of cash. And so, as long as he stays awake at the wheel of his life, his calling will wait until he’s ready again. And it will manifest in a different form, different geography, and hopefully, different financial story. As long as he doesn’t allow this failure to numb him out and put him to sleep. As Rumi says; “Once you wake up, don’t go back to sleep. Don’t go back to sleep. Don’t go back to sleep.”