Curse of The Entrepreneur
Joel Eschenbach • June 04, 2017
As I’m writing today, I’m bored. I mean really bored. Why? Because I’m right smack in the middle.
Let me explain…
A few years ago, I started setting quarterly goals. I pick one thing every quarter to focus on and then I try to orient my daily and weekly tasks towards that goal (this quarter it happens to be improving the marketing strategy of my business). If I left it at that, you might say, “Way to make the most of your time” or “Good for you!”, but that’s only half of the story because I always get to where I am now. It’s what Michael Hyatt refers to as The Messy Middle and it sucks!
I come up with an idea about how I can improve my personal life or business, I set a goal, I make it halfway through, and then I start losing interest. It's too easy to think of a thousand more exciting ideas I could chase after or put my focus on than this stupid quarterly goal I set a month ago!
We Don't Need New Ideas
You know what they say about Belly Buttons and opinions? Well, the same could be said about ideas… everybody’s got one.
I’m in the idea business. In fact, it’s the actual name of our company, so I’m all about new ideas and hearing the latest concept that’s going to turn the world upside down, make a boatload of money, or revolutionize the way we do everything… except I’m not. I’m just not that interested in new ideas right now. Honestly, I could go quite some time without hearing any.
Why? I call it “The Curse of The Entrepreneur” (which sounds way more epic than it actually is). Everybody wants to come up with the next big thing. I sit across from amazing starters and creatives all the time who have great ideas but by the time we even reach the end of our conversation, they’ve already moved on to the next one.
I get it, I do it too. It’s way more exciting to conjure up brilliant new ideas than to focus on the boring next step that’s right in front of you. The thing is, you and I don’t need more ideas. We need to stay focused on the first idea we already had. I call this “The Curse of The Entrepreneur” because every entrepreneur, small business owner, or creative person I work with deals with this problem at some time or another. It’s like an addiction to new ideas.
What’s more amazing than a new idea (and way less glamorous), is a person that can stay focused long enough to follow-through, get traction, and successfully implement an idea. It doesn’t matter whether that idea fails or succeeds. What matters is whether they gave it their all and didn't get distracted by the latest shiny new object that might make a few bucks.
MLMs (Multi-Level Marketing) businesses thrive on this curse by motivating starters to run after shiny new ways to make money or be successful quickly. But at the end of the day, the road to success is paved with some boredom and behind the scenes work.
Ok, you get it… no new ideas, we’re all distracted, now what?
Forgetting For The Sake of Focus
I have a small Shih Tzu. She’s still a puppy, so she’s wild and jumpy. Every time she hears a noise, she jumps up and runs after it.
I am her.
The prevailing message I heard growing up was “You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do” which ended up translating in my pre-adolescent brain as, “you can be EVERYTHING you want to do and do EVERYTHING you want to do.” See the difference? After saying yes to almost everything for about a decade, I started realizing that I was stressed, over-committed all the time, and not really accomplishing much on a daily basis. So, I had to start learning one of the most simple but difficult words of my life… “No”.
Setting up boundaries, saying no, letting go of all of the other possibilities and options in lieu of focusing on one thing, is way easier said than done. But that’s the secret of focus, forgetting other ideas and options, even if only for a season. It’s about choosing not to think about what could be and moving forward with what is.
There’s a somewhat well-known acronym for the word FOCUS that’s actually pretty good:
Follow One Course Until Success
While this is true and exactly what I’m harping on, it isn’t enough for me.
On the “course”, I tend to get sidetracked by other racers that are faster than me, or I get this great idea about how I could more efficiently use my energy, or I think of about 20 ways that the course could be improved, or how the entire race itself is antiquated and needs to be updated! So for me, it’s become less about focusing on one thing, and more about letting myself forget and let go of the thousand other things.
While that may sound like the same thing, for me it was kind of a big deal. When I started allowing myself to say no (or maybe later) to all of the other distractions and ideas, I instinctively starting following one course of action. It’s like auto-pilot kicked in because there was suddenly only one way to go.
So here’s my revised acronym:
Forget Other Concepts Until Successful
While I might be tempted to chase after a more exciting idea or goal today, I’m going to forget my other options and keep following the course ahead of me, because sometimes it’s about letting go of the best idea you’ve ever had to take up the boring (but better) task that’s right in front of you.