Entrepreneurs: Show Me Your (Black Lace) Thong & Tell Your Story Like You Mean It

IN: Business 101, Confidence

I have many beliefs.

Like black lace, for one.

Or a perfectly timed comeback.

Or that no matter where I am in the world, coffee will always taste better through a straw. (I’m even inclined to call this more fact than belief.)

You know, the important stuff in life.

But there’s one belief in particular, one belief that has served to inform every aspect of my life, from dawn until dusk, til death do us PART. (Likely the only time I’ll be uttering those words, mind you.)

While dogmatism isn’t usually very becoming, standing for something is.

For me, that something is this:

“There is no agony like bearing
an untold story inside of you.”
-Maya Angelou

This is one of my deepest beliefs–no pun intended, of course–and I know that you, fellow entrepreneurs, small business owners, independents and creatives, I know that you believe this, too.

It’s why you do what you do.

Each and every one of us has got our own untold story, and it is through our work that we slowly but surely begin to tell that story.  It is through our sweat, through our tears, through our uncertainty, and through our determinedness despite it all…that we tell that story.

Our work is who we are.

And we become entrepreneurs not only because we want to, but because we must. We have no choice in the matter.  We must tell our stories.

Unfortunately, most traditional careers don’t allow us to tell our stories; rather, we’re too busy trying to tell the greater story of our company.  And there’s something deeply unsatisfying about that on many different levels.

While most choose to ignore that dissatisfaction in favor of perceived stability, there’s something different about s/he who elects to strike it out on his/her own, and I believe that difference is this:

We all have an untold story begging to be told.  But it’s the entrepreneur who figures out how to tell it.

They often say that entrepreneurs have many personality traits in common–nonconformity, curiosity, willingness to take risks, and persistence, to name a few.

But I think it’s more than that–I think it’s about what those traits lend themselves to, for example, the concept of divergent thinking.  Essentially, divergent thinking is the ability to see multiple answers to a question.  In the case of an entrepreneur, the question to be answered is what constitutes the meaning of work?

But rather than define work by standard norms, the entrepreneur has a higher than normal propensity for divergent thinking, and recognizes that there are many more definitions beyond the standard, and that it is up to him or her to define those ways.

And this is a very real key to success.

Sir Ken Robinson gives an EXCELLENT talk on the concept of divergent thinking and how it relates to education; specifically, he mentions a study that shows that 98% of kindergarteners are considered to be at a genius level for divergent thinking.  However, as those same children progress through the education system, spending 10 years in school being told there’s one answer, and it’s in the back, they progressively score less and less for divergent thinking.  Not a big surprise.

Last year I discussed a similar concept in a post titled, “Education & Wage Slavery:  Hand in Hand?” which likened our current education system to an oversize factory, with humans acting as factors of production, designed solely to serve our capitalistic interests.  Robinson makes a similar argument, and you really should watch the video (below), because the illustration of the school-as-factory really serves to drive the point home.

While Robinson makes the case for divergent thinking in education, I’d like to extend his argument and make the case for divergent thinking as a path to greater fulfillment for all, and mostly, for those seeking entrepreneurial success.

As we focus on uncovering + seeking out new ways of doing things, specifically as it applies to work + lifestyle, we are continually giving ourselves new ways to tell our stories.

Not only our story as we know it, but the opportunity to define our story in the future.  It’s about writing the story that you wish to be told, rather than having someone else tell it for you.

And that’s truly what it means to be an entrepreneur.

That’s truly what it means to be free.

And that’s also what it means to talk about black lace in public and get paid for it.

Not like I would ever do anything like that.