One of my huge pet peeves is when someone is in a difficult situation and they whine and complain about it, but proceed to do nothing to change the situation. Usually this comes in two flavors – relationships and jobs – although it really can apply to anything. It drives me nuts. If you don’t like a situation in life get off your ass and do something about it.
When it comes to starting your own business, everyone has a tendency to talk a big game. You might succeed, you might fail, but to me it’s unacceptable to talk about changing the world without even trying. In most cases, “failure” leads to success at some other point down the road…even if it means you just laid the groundwork for someone else to come along and succeed.
The other day I saw this index card over on Indexed, one of my favorite blogs:
No arguments from me on the sex side of things 🙂
But I started to really think about the “changing the world” portion of the card. And you know what? Yea, I’d say that’s what most people do. But that’s not what I do. Or – more appropriately – that’s not what we do.
My definition of “changing the world” – an action that improves the life of one or more people.
I don’t agree that the only events that can “change the world” are curing cancer or eliminating poverty. I think that mentality makes it too easy to give up and walk through life feeling like you can’t make a difference. That just simply isn’t true. You might not be able to cure cancer, but you can brighten the day of a little kid with cancer down at your local hospital. You might not be able to end poverty, but you can pick up some extra groceries for your local food pantry. I look at this blog, SportsLizard, iPrioritize, Detailed Image, Music-Alerts, etc and I know that each one has “changed the world” in it’s own minor-but-relevant way because I’ve seen hundreds of emails from people expressing their gratitude for the work we’ve done.
What if I didn’t decide to start this blog back in 2005? What if I gave up on SportsLizard after the first few tough months? What if George and Greg didn’t take initiative on the opportunity that they saw to start an auto detailing site focused around great customer service and educating car owners? What if I gave up on my search for an album release date service and didn’t start Music-Alerts?
The obvious answer to me is that we wouldn’t have changed the world.
All of those emails from satisfied users/customers would seize to exist. To me that’s more important than any dollar amount in my pocket. That’s why I continue to try to change the collectibles industry with SportsLizard even if it accounts for (and probably will always account for) a tiny percentage of our revenues. If I can make enough money to live and I know my work is making the world a better place, I will be wholly satisfied with myself.
You might contest my definition of changing the world. That’s fine, it’s certainly debatable. I’ll tell you one thing that isn’t debatable: no one has ever changed the world by just talking about changing the world. Talk without action will get you nowhere.