According to an entrepreneur there are two types of people in the world – Entrepreneurs and ‘The Others’, and the problem with ‘The Others’ is this:
“Into the dream you came, and across the soft carpet of my reverie you walked. With hobnail boots…”
This may resonate with an entrepreneur who has been misunderstood or maligned, because ‘The Others’ may accuse an entrepreneur of being selfish, obsessive, geeky, ever so slightly weird and focused to the point of ruthlessness.
The term ‘The Others’ came from a conversation I had with a dedicated friend and entrepreneur who, like most entrepreneurial men and women, believe its ‘The Others’ who need to ‘get with the programme’.
Entrepreneurs are able to make huge sacrifices to achieve their objectives and compartmentalize chunks of their lives while an idea has gripped them by the throat, in their quest to become creative trailblazers at the cutting edge. Inevitably they frequently leave lesser mortals standing in their wake and are the driving force behind enterprise and innovation.
Now this could lead to some challenging conversations, especially if a significant person in your life happens to be an entrepreneur. And I know because my Dad was one. My mother’s life in consequence was occasionally desperate, sometimes challenging, frequently very glamorous but never boring.
Unique and incomparable, an entrepreneur can overcome massive setbacks and “press on regardless”. They are made of a special kind of metal; steel tempered in the flame which is cool to the touch, but to ‘the others’ is red hot. So don’t get too close or you’ll get your fingers burnt.
The entrepreneurial mind never really sleeps; hardly rests and even if it does it’s alert for another idea, another opportunity which for the average person could be exhausting. An entrepreneur ‘sees’ opportunities other people can’t. They ‘believe’ in ideas and concepts with a fervent enthusiasm which is baffling to the average Joe Soap. For example, they will be the ones scribbling some notes on a napkin in a restaurant then hot-foot it back to HQ to put another blueprint into action, before the person with them has had time to tuck into their cheese and biscuits.
Occasionally an entrepreneur may appear to drift off and not be paying attention, until you’re forced to ask “have you even listened to a word I’ve said?!” It’s nothing personal – they are sometimes literally on another planet.
My father’s entrepreneurial streak was always close by. I have memories of the whole family travelling half way across the country just to eat a picnic on a piece of land my dad had earmarked for a commercial development. He even once left me and my four kid sisters in a playground in Lisbon to amuse ourselves so he could attend a meeting.
He was insatiably curious about everything, which was taken to extremes. He had a telephone extension installed in every room of our house (even the downstairs cloakroom), so he wouldn’t miss a call.
Entrepreneurs define their lives according to their own code and frequently ignore advice. To them a mistake is a ‘learning experience’. They lavish admiration on anyone whose achievements outshine theirs, and seek to emulate the movers and shakers in their industry on a never ending quest to improve and advance.
They eagerly await the next experience, and soon tire of the predictable and the pedestrian. The more progress they make, the bigger their ambition and ability to live their life on their own terms becomes.
Their strength and inner resourcefulness is inspirational to the enlightened beings who exist on the perimeter, but to ‘The Others’ e.g. anyone with no drive, ambition or courage at all, this could be perceived as selfish neglect. An entrepreneur is not prepared to assign the direction of their life into anyone else’s hands. To them life is always a question of “let’s make it happen!” or “what if??” or “how does that work?” and are prepared to wake up, step up and demand more.
Sometimes the entrepreneurial gene can lie dormant for years and is only activated through adversity – so you don’t have to be born like it.
It’s also the ultimate weapon of self preservation, which is why a HUGE number of entrepreneurs were dyslexic underachievers at school – but still won through in the end. It can also become a positive channel for delinquent energy, which otherwise might lead to a prison sentence or self destruction.
So, if you’re in close proximity to an entrepreneur – here’s a suggestion – don’t trample on, or pour cold water over, their ideas. They are a force of nature – a tidal wave – so catch the energy, enjoy the experience or get out of the way…