For a few years now, I’ve called myself an “entrepreneur.”
Recently, though, I want to call myself everything but.
The term “entrepreneur” and I are no longer friends — we’re frenemies. I’ll tell you why…
I have a young friend — a good kid, recently out of college, looking for something awesome to do with his life. He’s eager to make new friends in different industries, thirsty for knowledge and experiences. He’s searching for his calling, for his dream project, for his life’s work.
When you ask him what he does for a living, he says, “I’m an entrepreneur.”
In fact, all his online profiles brandish the term proudly, too. He’s an entrepreneur, he says, but what does he do?
Cue the record scratch.
Aspiring entrepreneurs, do not be discouraged. Let’s just take a moment to put the word “entrepreneur” in its place, to discredit the power society has recently given it.
Because I’ve written about prestige before, but here’s a quick reminder:
“Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.”
— Paul Graham
Since when is being an “entrepreneur” something prestigious? Since when is being an “entrepreneur” something to lie about?
A surprise answer
For a few years now, my “business” has been websites, apps, and e-commerce. Recently, though, I was asked if I could lend a hand with something I wouldn’t usually take on as a “job”: designing a slide deck. I did a quick gut check and said, “Sure, why not?”
Surprise, surprise — it was awesome.
And yet another surprise — I went the extra mile for the project, and I didn’t mind at all.
I enjoyed pouring over the background documents that fed the presentation’s contents. I enjoyed breaking the entire presentation apart from start to finish and recommending a new outline — even if that was more than I was hired to do. I enjoyed working with my designer to bring the right look and feel to each slide. I especially loved the team meetings. (My mentor was there for a few of them, which may explain it.)
Never in a million years did I think that helping a company put together a beautiful, story-driven presentation would be something I’d enjoy so much.
What if I had said no? I could’ve stayed my course and said, “Sorry, that’s not something I do.” But I didn’t. I went out on a limb, and I ended up having so much fun.
The term “entrepreneur” is becoming increasingly idolized, and society and the media are doing their part in fueling the fire. Personally, my projects land me within the “entrepreneur” category, but I’m opting out of the term entirely. That label isn’t serving me. It’s doing quite the opposite.
Instead, I’m exploring something different. Something more creative. Something that makes me feel more alive. Something that doesn’t include chasing money. Something that allows me to follow my gut. Something that changes and flows as I do.
I’m starting by following my cravings.
Lately, this is what I’ve been craving:
- A community of makers that support and encourage each other
- Writing morning pages to get all my worries and pesky thoughts off my mind
- Creating a project using the word “canvas”, a word that’s calling to me for some reason
- Feeling more like a creative and less like a manager
- Meditating and giving my headspace some peace and serenity
At all hours of the day, I find myself yearning for some interesting conversation, for shedding my worries, for a pen and paper. When I’m driving, when I’m in a meeting, when I’m at the computer, when I’m sitting in listening to a conversation about gossip, when I’m winding down for bed.
As constant, as persistent, as vital as my pulse.
Cravings have a life of their own. All they do is wait — until we give in.
And give in I shall.
What do you crave?
Like the wind gusts of a tornado, you’re constantly changing.
One year you’re one thing, the next you’re another. One week you’re interested in one topic, the next in another. One day you feel up, the next you’re down.
As time passes and you carve the path of your identities, as you morph from one version to the next, how do you know what path is the right one to follow?
Easy — your cravings.
You might think you don’t have them, these “cravings” I speak of. But you do. Everyone does.
They’re the stirrings in the back of your mind that keep you up at night. They’re the dream you have of living in a faraway land or exploring a mountain full of greenery. They’re the journal you keep under your bed or the songs you sing only when you’re alone. They’re the childhood hobby that was stolen from you by society, by parents, by your friends. They’re what your heart yearns for, day in and day out.
Take a moment and ask yourself: what do you crave?
Your cravings are always there with you. They never leave you. They’re with you every step of the way, waiting patiently for the day you’ll pay them a sliver of attention. And once you do, once you even so much as pet them lightly on the head, they’ll pounce on you like a puppy in love. They’ll nag at you. They’ll swoon at you. They’ll become difficult to ignore.
And that’s when true change happens — when you stop ignoring the cravings and you start to give in.
Because more important than what you’re craving is whether or not you will heed their call.
As my young friend craves to be an “entrepreneur”, I crave to no longer be one. And now, it’s on each of us to walk the path of turning our cravings into reality.
Next week, I’ll share exactly how I’m doing this. Stay tuned.
For the comments: I love hearing about all the journeys occurring all over the world. I hope you’ll share with us:
What are you craving?
Wishing you awesomeness from a peaceful and chilly Nicaraguan night (a rarity, I promise you),