Guest commentary: Because it sucks. I’ve finally taken the leap and am now a full time entrepreneur focused on a new direction in my life. This was not always the case – for like 5 years – I lived a double life; as a Fitness Professional (my reality) and as a founder of a web startup (my fantasy).
I say fantasy because we really didn’t acheive what we set out to achieve, so it remained as my “side project” and thus my fantasy. I hated that s@#%. I hated making the excuses like “we just launched, we’ll see what happens.” And: “It’s our test market, so we are just keeping it under wraps until we get some good user feedback.”
The fact is that I approached it with the conventional wisdom of starting something on the side while remaining at my full time job to keep a stable income. Most of the time THIS DOESN’T WORK since anything extraordinary requires the extra – or its just remains ordinary.
For those of you standing on both sides of the fence, with one foot on the side of your passion/dream/vision and the other side remaining on the reality/job/paying bills, here are some thoughts to help you take the leap.
50/50 does not equal 100
When you find yourself split between two major life directions, say starting a company or high level athletic performance and your day job, you are in a tough spot. Because the two directions require effort, attention, and energy, there is only so much you can give to each one.
Since you only have 100 percent of yourself to give (there is no such thing as 110 percent), you will have to compromise the quality of effort you put in each just to keep up. You will end up failing to achieve the level of performance necessary to be GREAT. People don’t pay for Average. They pay for Greatness.
Being great at anything will require EVERYTHING you have, not just half of it. Founders or athletes take note: whatever is holding you back from fully working towards your vision, let it go… and only focus on the ONE thing in which you want to be great.
Psychologically you get lost
Who are you? What do you do? What are you working on? Where are you going? When these questions were asked of me, I didn’t know how to respond. I’m Nick…. the trainer, I work in health and fitness. I’m Nick, an entrepreneur. I recently founded a startup, Loyaltize.
I didn’t really know what to say, which really started to mess with my head. The craziest thing about success, failure and the long slog in between is how much it messes with your psyche.
When you are attempting to develop or achieve anything extraordinary on the side and with partial commitment, you are at the risk of losing your sense of self. The Who and the Why of you are not aligned with the What of you as a person and a professional. This will have extremely damaging effects on your self esteem.
You will start to not want to talk about your pursuits with others because you really haven’t achieved anything since the last time you spoke with them. You are afraid they will think less of you. You will then start to ask yourself if you are supposed to be pursuing it in the first place.
Champions don’t think this way. Champions fully commit. I am pretty sure Steve Jobs fully committed to his dream. I am also pretty sure Phillip Day Lewis didn’t. If you don’t know who that is… right, neither do I. Being half good at anything – sucks. And it will take its toll.
Things will always work out
When making the leap, you will find life starts to become very crazy and quite uncomfortable. But things tend to work themselves out, as they always do.
When sitting on both sides of the fence, it’s better to ask yourself this question: If I don’t change, will anything ever be different? The answer is an obvious NO, yet it is fascinating how many people keep complaining while doing what they have always done. They change nothing, yet expect different results.
Yes, when you quit your job to pursue a dream, some unexpected things might happen. You might not pay your cell phone bill on time. Groceries might be a little tight for a few months. Filling up the car requires keeping an eye on the pump to stop at half full. Going on a date and using Groupons to pay for dinners.
Visiting the parents more often so you can save on a dinner or two. Or.. since you have 100 percent of yourself to devote to your dream, people might start discovering your talent. Users start downloading your app. You start winning races.
Your bank account actually starts growing because people are paying you for your Greatness, not your average. Indeed, when you take the leap, something will happen. You just need to determine if you want something to happen or not.
Nick Hughes is a (now full time) entrepreneur who lives in Seattle. You can read his blog, So Entrepreneurial, here.