If you’re going to be walking anyway (and we all have to walk), you might as well make the path worth traveling.” – Anonymous
With all our recent talk about self-guided education, today I’d like to share the mindset that tends to ensure the most useful education of all…
Whether You Know it or Not, You Are an Entrepreneur.
At Live Your Legend we talk a lot about creating things. About building things unique to our talents, skills and passions, that help the world in some way.
And in many cases, for most of our community here, that means striking out on your own and molding something from scratch, either on your own or with a small team.
In fact, according to the surveys a few thousand of you have filled out…
- 52% of you know you want to be entrepreneurs
- 37% are still undecided
- and about 20% of you already are
And regardless of the stats, as it turns out, every one of us is an entrepreneur.
Each of us is the C.E.O. of the most important and valuable brand in the world – our own.
In 1997 Tom Peters wrote a seminal article in Fast Company entitled The Brand Called You. Six years later my Entrepreneurial Marketing professor at UCSB and now friend, Jim Morouse, shared it with me. My perspective was forever changed. And I am forever grateful.
As defined by Wikipedia, a brand is the name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.
It’s everything the makes up the way people perceive you and your value to the world.
Whether you’re working your way up a 10,000 person company or you’re huddled at a table in the corner of your kitchen working at building the next Facebook, we all have the same job description…
We’re all entrepreneurs of our own life.
In Wikipedia’s words, an entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator — a generator of new ideas, and business processes.
Webster defines it as one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.
And there is no more important business to manage than the one of your own career.
Entrepreneurship is not a job title. It is a way of life.
It is a mindset – an approach to the world built upon the habit of naturally questioning the way things are, thinking for yourself and applying as much of who you are to the project at hand.
It’s a way of prioritizing creativity, creation and contrarian thinking to solve problems.
Whether we know it or not, our brand is being built, in real-time, moment-to-moment.
With every project you decide to take on (or turn down), with the level of quality and dedication you bring (or don’t bring) to your work, with the amount of compassion you show (or don’t show) to the people around you, and with the topics and subjects you choose to develop, master and leverage to help others.
All of this is being measured by the second.
It’s measured by the people around you, by Google, by your real friends as well as your ‘friends’ across social media (yes – I’d be sure you’re damn proud of the image you represent across all your platforms) and by current and future employers, employees and customers.
There’s no getting around it – The world is watching.
When you compare the Employee Mind with the Entrepreneurial Mind, I see one simple and profound difference…
An employee mindset takes orders, whereas an entrepreneurial mind questions and creates them.
An employee reads the script, while an entrepreneur writes it and then lives it full out.
An entrepreneur sees every possible action as a chance to build upon his or her potential. To lay foundation toward their dream. They know the world is watching. They know life isn’t a dress rehearsal. And because of this very clear understanding of reality, they act accordingly.
No matter your career path – corporate employee, startup founder or anything in between – you are the entrepreneur of your own career.
It’s a simple choice between a passive life and an active one.
Of learning and doing vs. watching and waiting.
There’s really only one option, because…
Traditional Job Security is Dead
I have news for you.
There is no more guarantee of having a job in ten years. There’s not even a guarantee you’ll have a job tomorrow.
Passive and blind loyalty to a cause does not create security. It might create the illusion of security. And yes, in a big corporation, loyalty might actually keep you employed.
Right up until your ass gets fired!
That’s the sad and honest reality. You have job security right up until the day you don’t. And that could change in an instant – as so many of us have unfortunately experienced first-hand in the past decade.
There is only one form of modern-day job security…
To become known as the person who works their face off (the smart way) to provide unique and life-changing value to the people around them in some specific, talented way.
If your name becomes synonymous with adding massive and meaningful value, you will always have opportunities. The world will beat your door down. Why? Because a personal brand with that level of respect is rare. Sad but true.
The only real job security is to think and live like an entrepreneur, no matter where you work.
This mindset is an ever-evolving way of life. A way of learning by doing that allows us to constantly experiment, improve, help, learn and repeat.
And I see it as the ultimate solution to the tragic state of the education system we’ve been talking about the past few weeks.
The solution is simple…
Raise You and Your Children to Be Entrepreneurs.
That is the ultimate, self-guided, life-long education.
Cameron Herald gives an amazing TED talk titled Let’s Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs. It’s one of the most practical and directly applicable talks I’ve seen. I take his approach for my own life, and I look forward to doing much of the same as Chelsea and I raise a future family.
The path you walk is different than every other person in the world.
The question is will yours be filled with adventure and admiration, or make you puke from monotony?
The best part of living your legend, is you get to decide.
To write the script or to read it, that is the question.
So… are you treating life like an employee or a founder?
I think you know our answer.
This post first appeared on Live Your Legend.
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