The Secret Sauce

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Many times over my entreprenuial career I’ve been asked what the secret to success is, and most often my response would be…”you need to work hard, work smart, leverage your time…” or some other lame arse answer.  Although all of that may have something to do with it, for me, I think what has allowed me to be successful is a combination of the following, among other things.

Risk Perception – No one in my family had ever graduated from High School, much less college.  It wasn’t something anyone talked about.  Frankly, had I not played baseball at an above average level, I would have most likely never went to college.  I sold candy out of a backpack in Junior High, cut lawns in High School, and started my first business when I was a sophmore in College.  I never thought that any of this was abnormal.  It wasn’t until several years later as I started to become more worldly did I discover that my course was a bit different than most.  However, it would also be fair to say that my risk perception was primarily due to ignorance rather than fearlessness; at least earlier in my career.  The point is that I never perceived any risk to any of my initial endevours; I didn’t know any better or any different.  Thank God!

Failure – Fear of failure is what prevents most people from taking action.  For me, experiencing failure is what has allowed me to survive and thrive.  Failure is part of learning.  No one has ever been great at anything the first time they’ve tried.  Failing in business can certainly carry a heavy stigma, especially if bankruptcy is involved, however, life goes on.  I don’t like to fail, but having experienced it many times, makes it a bit easier to accept, learn from it, and move on.  I’m grateful for my failed experiences.

Narcissism – Earlier this year I was ordered to be evaluated by a pshycologist.  The results indicated that I am slightly narcissistic.  For someone who has spent a considerable amount of time aspiring to be a servant leader, and who values humility above all other human qualities, this was a bit difficult to learn.  I plan to dive down into this more in another blog, or possibly in the book, but for now let’s just say that I am coming to terms with the fact that there may be some truth to the doctor’s opinion.  I am not admitting nor denying, just keeping an open mind.  There’s no doubt I have always had a lot of confidence, which should never be confused with self worth.  I have an average IQ (115,) but although never tested, I would say that I have an above average EQ and SQ.  Put all this together, and you may have a narcissit, or just a healthy balance of confidence and intellegence.  I’m hoping for the latter.

Timing – I responded to a late night infomercial to become an independent Internet consultant when I was 19 years old.  I managed to spread the $3k sign up fee over 3 credit cards and 90 days later the company was bankrupt.  I had sold only one web site, which the company I was selling for was going to build.  Considering the fact that they were now out of busienss, I had to make other arrangements.  I taught myself HTML and managed to put together a website for my customer on my own.  Three years later, I had 100 employees, and was the president of a company I helped take public and had built thousands of websites.  Timing is everything.

Action – I have an attitude of action and a high sense of urgency.  Paralysis of analysis can be fatal.  The guy that cuts my hair is a brilliant entrepreneur that has never owned a business.  I encourage him all the time to stop talking about it, and do something.  Taking action can be difficult, but you can’t steal second with your foot on first.  Do something.

Long before I knew the value of people, system and processes, sustainable financial models, culture, brand building, etc., I could only do one thing, and that was to take action.  If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, or want to be a world champion bobsledder, you must take action.  No one is going to do it for you, and unfortunately, there is NO SECRET SAUCE.

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