re·sil·ience (noun) – ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like;
I was on the “golden boy” path. The one that every mother understands and is proud to tell the world her son is on. I got good grades in school, got into a great college, continued to work hard, got several job offers prior to graduating, and landed an impressive job. At 22 my path seemed pretty certain: continue to work hard at job, get MBA, rise up through company (or jump from company to company) to VP level, retire.
There really wasn’t much getting in my way. Sure, I had the occasional hard class or boneheaded project partner, but every single road block could always be overcome by hard work. I knew if I worked harder than everyone else (which, by the way, isn’t very hard) I’d almost always rise to the top and get the best opportunities. Nothing really got in my way.
Entrepreneurs are such a tight click because we learn true resolve through our business experiences. We can identify with each other in ways other people can’t. The problems and the pressure are at a whole different level, mostly because if something goes wrong there is no one else but you left to clean up the mess. You learn quickly that crazy things can and will happen to you and your company, and many times your optimism, persistence, and passion are all that keeps your company alive.
This past week alone, we’ve had to deal with: George and I being sick, George’s laptop dying, Detailed Image being down for a day because of server issues, and the heater in our warehouse failing (still no solution here….hopefully Monday – the temp is ~40 degrees in there now, but if it goes below freezing our products are in trouble). For a four person company, those things happening in one week’s time can crumble you if you’re not careful. Thankfully – assuming the heater gets fixed soon – we’ll have dodged several bullets at once and lived to fight another day.
For me, veering off the “golden boy” path has tested my character above and beyond anything else I can imagine experiencing. It has forced me to regularly ask “am I happy?”, “do I really want to do this?”, and “am I using my precious time here on earth doing something that gives me meaning and purpose?”.
Being forced into thinking about tough questions like that enables me to live a more satisfied and peaceful life (even when I’m working long hours and paying myself nothing). Whenever the answer to one of those questions is “no” I am able to make a change for the better. The resiliency I’ve learned from embarking on this entrepreneurial journey will help me when life throws other roadblocks at me. I feel like so many people go through life without learning how to deal with true adversity, that when real problems do arise they are unable to deal with them appropriately and start panicking and searching for the easy way out. Or – even worse – they realize they’ve chosen the wrong path but don’t know how to get off of it.
I’m not saying that you can’t learn resolve from athletics or being in the military or about a million other things. In my situation, however, entrepreneurship has been far and away the best experience for testing my faith, my character, and my resolve.