Being an Entrepreneur

The Secret to Staying Sane in a Crazed World

Egg1I am supposed to blog at least once a week, but I don’t.

I am supposed to have lots of “rich media” on my LinkedIn profile—videos of my work, podcasts—but I don’t.

I should join Dropbox because it makes sense to store my important stuff in the Cloud, giving others easy access to my work. But you know what?  When I signed up, a Get Started guide popped up on my screen, letting me know I need a tutorial on how to navigate Dropbox.  That’s fine, but I don’t have time!  I save the guide, planning to read it “soon.”

So, I have a Dropbox account, but I don’t.

As an entrepreneur, I am pulled in so many directions.  This week I was asked to contribute a 1500 word essay for a book—a fantastic opportunity. My mind exploded with juicy topic ideas I genuinely care about. I became giddy at the prospect of being part of a cool project that would positively impact others and grow my business.  Then I noticed my heart began to pound, and my upper lip broke out in a sweat. A voice inside my head chirped: If I say yes to one more thing, I will ride off the rails.

I went for a walk to calm myself down and realized what’s most important to me:  I want to be sane. That matters to me more than being part of a book, than being the go-to career consultant  for  local  news, than landing in the next  TED talk line-up. Though I will not recoil from  those opportunities when they come knockin’,  I want to stop chasing them with an avidity bordering on greed.

I thought about my recent conversation with my grounded, sane handyman, Robin. Here’s what he said, “I could expand my business, gain a partner and accept bigger jobs. I could make a lot more money. Everyone tells me this. But I don’t.  I’ve made the same money more or less for years. I like my independence. I don’t need more things. I don’t need more stuff and I like my life.  I have enough.”

My initial reaction was, But Robin, more money, more freedom. He smiled, but didn’t agree with me. Whenever Robin doesn’t agree with me, it lingers in my mind.   What a statement that is, “I have enough.” Who says that, these days? Not many of us, I realized.

When I first launched my career consulting business, I received a request from a large career consulting firm’s CEO to have a conversation to “share information.”  I was excited at the prospect of a joint project with him. Instead, the conversation proceeded in a whole different direction. He immediately told me that his high powered clients who all earned  annual salaries of $100,000+, had job offers within 7 weeks. He also told me he optimizes their LinkedIn profiles in such a way that they receive 1000 LinkedIn connection requests per week.  He didn’t see me as a potential partner; he wanted to intimidate me and run me out of Dodge.  He fascinated me! I asked him why he had two LinkedIn profiles, and he said it’s because he maxed out his first account at 30,000 connections. In that instant I understood him. I recognized  his—and I have this part of me too—insatiable hunger, a belief that I don’t have enough, I’m not enough. That night I sent him this poem by Kurt Vonnegut.


True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.

I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22′
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in peace!”

My intent in sending him the poem was to nudge him into an alternate, saner point of view. It didn’t invite further conversation with him, as I’d hoped.

This past week, in all the tributes to Joan Rivers, the line that stood out most was this. She said “A mafia guy in Vegas gave me this advice: Run your own race, put on your blinders.” When I look at my business from my perspective–and tune out the glut of  marketing strategies promising to make my business explode–I’m doing great. Every week I gain a more solid foothold in a field I love, and reach more people whom I can impact in a positive way. I also know there are a hundred better choices I can make to grow my business faster, bigger, to monetize so I make money in my sleep.  I love this quote by Brian Tracy: “Set peace of mind as your highest goal and organize your life around it.” You know what? Peace of mind. That’s enough.

image: © /kikkerdirk