Carpe Diem, Entrepreneurs!
By Kristina Campbell. The images in this article are from Kristina's ‘Carpe Diem, 2019,’ a mixed media collage Kristina created while contemplating her next career moves. Join her for Calibrating True North, Jan 1-4, 2020.
In the 17th century economist Richard Cantillon defined the term entrepreneur as a person who pays a certain price for a product and resells it at an uncertain price, willing to take on the risk and uncertainty.
In the 1930s economist Joseph Schumpeter defined an entrepreneur as someone willing and able to convert a new idea or invention into a successful innovation, resulting in new industries and combinations of currently existing inputs.
The current Oxford dictionary definition states an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
Take a moment and think about whether you have an unfulfilled project, perhaps even a secret project that you’ve never told anyone about. Something you could imagine doing that you think would give you a sense of fulfillment, of meaning for your life. Something that is particularly meaningful to you because in fact you are the perfect person to do it, you have exactly the right idea, skills or connections to accomplish this. Do you have it in mind, yes? Then skip the next paragraph.
No? Really? Has there never been something, one idea that is uniquely yours to give expression to in this world. Think back to when you were a child, about the age of 10. I’m guessing that by then you had a pretty good idea of what you were good at. By 10 you knew if you were the athlete, the scientist or the entertainment. You were pretty clear if you were sitting on the popular side of the room feeling supported or if you were struggling to make friends and feel included. You thought you knew if people were for you or against you. I’ll bet that you had a moment of day dreaming fantastically into the future where you could vividly imagine some glorious future self. What did you imagine?
In the past week have you done anything to bring this aspect of yourself into fruition? Yes? Then skip the next paragraph.
How about the past month, year, decade? I saw a fabulous quote by Earl Nightingale: Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyways. Perhaps the dream needs to be adjusted. Some dreams truly do have an expiry date on them, like being an Olympic athlete for instance. I remember meeting a woman in her 50’s who competed in the Commonwealth Games in archery fulfilling a life long dream of competing at a world class level. Even if the specific outcomes might have to shift, the feelings generated by the accomplishment of a particular goal are often transferable.
So what was your answer? Was it something that many people have done, blazing a trail through the bush in front of you with a predictable, stable course of actions and a fairly certain outcome or was it something that few people have attempted? Was it something that you were able to see accomplished by others, and therefore inspire yourself with or was it something that you had to imagine executed because it didn’t really exist yet?
So much is written to inspire us to reach for lofty goals, to stretch, work harder, smarter, faster. In the face of that, I don’t know about you, but I can pretty quickly decide that I am lazy, disorganized, distracted, and uniquely unqualified. I have an old story, “I never finish anything.” I hear my Dad’s voice ringing as I type those words. My current inside voice response (growing self-acceptance with a dollop of defensiveness) goes something like this, “Well, I can certainly see how that might be what you see! What I see is that I have a large number of projects rolling along simultaneously and that while some may take a long time to complete, I have also learned that not everything needs to be finished.” I’ve recently been reading a book called Start Finishing by Charlie Gilkey. I can guarantee I bought that book in response to my internal critic claiming that it might be helpful to me! Gilkey has a few beautiful ideas that appealed to me right off the bat:
- We thrive by doing our best work.
- Only you can do your best work.
- Your best work can be sacred, serves you and others, requires really showing up, is easily displaced by other stuff and is more than just your ‘job’.
I’ve been able to spend most of my adult life doing work that I thrive doing. My work challenges me, excites me, inspires me. I have lived the idea of “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” My work has included everything from hairdressing to fine art, serving in restaurants to growing organic fruits and vegetables, owning, renovating and building homes and rental properties, raising my children, volunteering for numerous organizations, painting, creating all sorts of videos from documentary to experimental art, and most recently facilitating workshops about personal growth, creativity and sexuality. All of this combines to create an insanely personal expression of what my best work is. Doing my best work gives meaning, fulfillment and creative expression that I delight in and benefits others. There is joy, growth and inspiration created and shared through my efforts.
None of it is easy. I am regularly being challenged to the limits of my capacity. I often throw up my hands in frustration, despairing that I cannot create what I imagine. On a near daily basis I need to remind myself what I am trying to create. And oh… my… goodness! There are days when I wish I had a straightforward job; arrive at 8:00 go home at 5:00, have a task which I am trained for and capable of, a boss who gives me clear tasks and says thank you and pays me when I do them. It’s a short-lived fantasy, hell, even if I had a job it’d still probably be a fantasy! I’m not willing to put off doing things I am passionate about to some uncertain future. I love that I have found a way to wrap all of these disparate areas of interest and unique skills into a career that I would say is my best work, and it is definitely more than my job.
David Cummings, writing about entrepreneurs, lists seven qualities that he thinks characterize successful entrepreneurs: forward-looking, hard-working, passionate, opinionated, confident, resourceful and positive. I would include diligent on that list. Anyone that I have seen successfully bring a dream to fruition has done it by relentlessly showing up again and again.
So today, on entrepreneur’s day:
- Congratulate an entrepreneur for stepping into uncharted territory.
- Consider how you can mentor or support someone’s unique journey.
- Spend your money in support of businesses created by local entrepreneurs.
And ask yourself, is there an unexpressed dream or desire that is your best work which remains unfulfilled?
Are you feeling unclear or needing to get unstuck?
Join Kristina Campbell for Calibrating True North, Jan 1-4, 2020 and kick off the new year clarifying your intentions and kindling a fire of attention to light your way forward.
"In every success story, you will find someone who has made a courageous decision." – Peter F. Drucker
About the Author
Kristina Campbell, DipHCS, is a multimedia artist who cares deeply about life and intimate connection. She delights in using creative processes to share her playful passion for living life fully.