Entrepreneur. "A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks to do so." Is that what the word means to you? Admittedly, that's the dictionary definition, so it's very black and white, and in the world we live in, everything's a little more colorful. So it's likely that "entrepreneur" means something different to you. Maybe it's your life's message. Maybe it's an untapped dream you have. Maybe you just think of someone you know who is an entrepreneur. I play many roles in life -- daughter, friend, teacher, sister -- but one that many people identify me as is "entrepreneur." My journey has had its ups and downs, but no matter what is happening with my business, I always find a way to connect back to what fueled me at the beginning of my journey and what continue to inspire me now. I hope these 5 quotes can offer you the same fuel on your entrepreneurial path:
1. "Talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it." -- Maya Angelou
This quote is a good reminder that sometimes overanalyzing a situation or idea can send you spinning in circles, or worse, at a total standstill. I like to call it "analysis paralysis". Some things speak to your instincts and your gut, and you just know which direction you should go, even if the decision isn't easy. As a business owner, I've followed my gut in situations like hiring the motivated, funky undergrad instead of the candidate with a bigger resume and more experience. Or sometimes I connect with a relative stranger, we have lunch together, and before you know it, we're collaborating on a project. Talent is like electricity, and when you access it, it can begin to illuminate things from both within and around you. Just remember to be mindful of your talent usage, just as we do our electricity costs; you don't want to let yourself burn out too quickly!
2. "Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired." -- Robert Strauss
I love this saying. It embraces stamina, will-power, and acknowledges that working towards a specific goal or dream can be incredibly challenging (both mentally and physically). With my writing background and second book coming out this year, I find myself constantly researching the backstory of other writers and their struggles or triumphs in breaking into the business. One that has always stood out to me is that of J.K. Rowling. Yes, we know her as the woman whose stories about a young wizard named Harry Potter snowballed into a worldwide phenomenon, giving her fame and fortune of royalty (moreso even!) But what strikes me more than her success is her struggle. Rowling says that the idea for Harry Potter came to her on a train to London...and she didn't even have a pen! (link to source) But it wasn't until several years later after a time of divorce, the tragic death of her mother, taking on single-motherhood, and no money that Rowling returned to Harry. She had nothing, so she had nothing to lose. She threw herself into the world of Harry Potter. And now look where we are! In this instance, the obstacles in her life grew and grew into an angry gorilla, which I'm sure we can all relate to. Perseverance really does count. It can build strength of mind, body, and spirit, which in turn make it easier to be resilient. And after battling whatever gorilla is in your life, you'll be grateful that you spent the time to build the resilience muscles we so often ignore.
3. "If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito." - Dalai Lama, XIV
And as a 5-foot woman, you can imagine that this isn't the most motivating of thoughts to have! Although it's a bit of a silly phrase, it holds true. That tiny mosquito can majorly affect a human being more than 1000 times its size. Wow! What's interesting is that the mosquito doesn't have to do anything more than it's capable of. What it offers is enough to affect change. And the same is true of you. Who you already are is a person who is strong enough to affect change. Own it. One idea can change the world. I often think of the line from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that says "sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast" Take a cue from Alice and move forward with even just one of the six impossible things that occur to you; you might surprise yourself.
4. "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
It's easy to think about the benefits of certain actions you take. But how often do you consider the "costs" of doing nothing? This quote puts that into perspective. Sometimes we think avoiding a risk costs nothing in the long term because we took the safe route and protected ourselves (or our business!), but that's not true. Avoiding risk because of fear or doubt can lead to missed opportunity or missed learning experience. I'm not saying we should live recklessly and take risks blindly day in and day out, but the game of life is not without risks. Successful businesses encounter risks all the time: a risky conversation with a colleague, approaching a new deal that could make or break your reputation, pitching a re-branding, etc. And without a doubt, some of those risks snowballed into unrivalled success, Facebook, anyone?
5. "Say Thank You" - Rupa Mehta, Connect To Your One
This message comes from my first book, Connect To Your One, and I include it here because it truly has been a fundamental principle in my entrepreneurial path. Saying thank you is the easiest (and most inexpensive!) way to effectively "pay it forward". The words "thank you" can have such an impact on your confidence, connections, and inner peace, both when you are giving thanks and receiving them. Words do matter. You'd be amazed how as a businesswoman or man, giving thanks opens up the door to success and opportunity. My clients may thank me for giving them a great workout in class, but I have to stop and thank them just for coming in and sharing their day with me.
Saying thank you forces you to be aware of a moment and of your surroundings. So often we can get focused on an endgame and long-term planning, which can make us lose sight of what's currently happening around us. Create an environment of confidence and gratitude -- it's contagious! -- so acknowledge your crew, your clients, your partners. "Say Thank You" keeps you present and forces you to realize that you can't do it all on your own (nor should you!).
Talent. Persistence. Belief. Risk. Gratitude. These are the essence of the passages above and the essentials of an entrepreneurial spirit. It's up to you to keep that spirit alive and well and embrace that everyone is an entrepreneur in one way or another, it's just a matter of how you embody it. We're all entrepreneurs of our own lives, the CEOs of us, and it's our job to find the little ways to keep our operations functioning and driving towards success.