Last night a good friend of mine said the following: “Dave, some people may feel that they are entrepreneurs but when they read about people saying that you are either born an entrepreneur or you aren’t, they automatically discount themselves from entrepreneurship and begin to feel that entrepreneurship isn’t for them because they don’t feel that they are natural born leaders; which is something that all entrepreneurs must possess.”
After some debating and discussing this issue with my friend, I started to agree with her that there must be a large population on young entrepreneurs who are stuck in this gray area of not knowing if they are entrepreneurs or not.
Thinking that way caused me to rethink my own perception of entrepreneurship: “you either have it or you don’t.” To a large degree, I am still a proponent of that – possibly overly pragmatic – school of thought.
But I can’t help but begin to consider the “potential” entrepreneurs out there who may have what it takes to become a great leader and to become a great entrepreneur, but simply don’t have the courage or capability (for whatever reason) to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit within them.
A friend once told me the story about the Frog and the Scorpion. There was a forest fire and the only chance of survival for the frog and scorpion was to swim across the river to safety. Obviously the scorpion couldn’t swim, but the frog could.
The Scorpion stated: “Listen Frog, let me ride on your back across the river so we can both survive.”
Frog replied: “No, you’ll sting me and I’ll die.”
Scorpion: “Why would I do that, we’d both die. I can’t swim, remember…”
Frog: “Hmm… ok, as long as you promise.”
Scorpion: “I promise, now let’s go.”
Can you guess what happened next? Halfway across the river the scorpion stings the Frog.
To which the Frog responded: “Why did you do that? Now we’re both going to die.”
Scorpion: “I did it because that’s just what I do.”
That’s how I’ve always thought about entrepreneurship: we are who we are in life and if we’re natural born leaders, we’ll go onto lead and potentially become great entrepreneurs. If we’re not, then we just won’t.
But that begs the question: If leadership can potentially be cultivated within someone and if leadership is the number one prerequisite to entrepreneurship, then logically speaking… you can will yourself to become an entrepreneur.
And therein lies the grayscale of entrepreneurship. The area where people may not have been born natural leaders; they may have been shy, not sociable, “nerdy,” reclusive, etc… but have the potential to become great entrepreneurs once they allow themselves to. Once they believe that they can and will.
The more and more I think about this theory, the more it becomes clear to me that there are in fact many people who fall into this category. People who are stuck in that entrepreneurial limbo or possible don’t even know that they are in that gray area – just waiting for someone to push them in the right direction.
Think about the typical situation of the shy and reclusive, but very intelligent student who sits at home all day working on next big website that goes onto change the world. Now this kid wasn’t a natural born leader; he was picked on in school; ostracized from society because he was “weird,” and now here he is, 10 years later, running one of the most successful websites in the country and is looked up to by thousands of other entrepreneurs.
So is person considered an entrepreneur? I would say so. He’s proven that he is. And was this person a natural born leader? I’m not sure. He may have had leadership qualities and they never materialized or he may have cultivated those leadership qualities over the years to compensate for what he lacked when born. Only that person will know. Not me.
So ask yourself:
- Are you a part of the grayscale?
- Are you stuck in the middle?
- If so, how can I breakout?
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