When people ask about my entrepreneurial streak, I typically describe myself as being both blessed and cursed with a brain that is always coming up with new business ideas. The blessing being that I have the ideas. The curse being that I never acted on them.
I spent a decade ignoring all the entrepreneurial zingers that entered my brain in favour of playing Call of Duty. Every time I did, this lesson reared its head, and became progressively more painful over time:
“If you’ve got a great idea, and you ignore it only to see someone else doing it and being super successful in the future, it’s going to hurt. A lot.”
Some of the ideas I’ve ignored over the years:
You know those scooters which you see around town with billboards on the back? “I thought of that about 5 years earlier! It’s a multi-million dollar industry now!” I declared proudly to my friends.
You know how real estate agents now all use flat screens in their windows with flashy presentations about their available properties, instead of a piece of paper? “Hey! I thought of that about three years earlier when the price for flat screens started to drop. It’s a multi-million dollar industry now,” I told my girlfriend at the time, frustrated about another missed opportunity.
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Have you ever heard of Navdy? It’s a heads-up-display for your car which projects your navigation directions right onto your windscreen, a bit like a teleprompter. “It’s been dubbed ‘Google Glass for Your Car’ and raised twenty million dollars in funding,” I regretfully told my wife. “I thought of that years ago when in-car navigation was starting to become mainstream!”
She responded with a soothing “I know sweetie, you’re very clever,” in the same tone one would use on a child who’s just come last in a running race.
The Navdy thing was the point where shame kicked in because that’s when I finally realised the real reason why I’ve never taken action on any of these ideas. It’s because I’ve been afraid.
And, just as Master Yoda predicted “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Which leads to this kind of conversation with myself:
“What are you some kind of moron? How many more opportunities are you going to waste before you grow some balls and do something? Your friends and family must think you’re pretty lame with all these ideas you never execute. Either that or they think you’re just a liar trying to sound like clever.”
Getting kicked up the bum is never pleasant; especially when you’re doing it to yourself. Especially when deep down, you know you deserve it.
It was a difficult conversation to have with myself, and though painful it was ultimately productive. It crystalised in my mind the fact that the next time I had a big idea, I would act on it no matter how afraid of failure I might be.
The power to begin ultimately came because I realised that if I lay on my death bed without taking a shot at any of the big ideas I’d had in my life, the self-hatred I would experience would be far worse than any defeat I could suffer in business.
The freedom that comes with this?
Have you got many big ideas? What’s holding you back?