I have often spoken about being a multi-potentialite – essentially not wanting to pigeon-hole myself or be great at just one thing. This still speaks true to me but recently I have been struggling with my journey not being the same as others – I see family and friends signing up for Masters programmes, new leadership jobs in big organisations and it got me thinking – why is my path so different?
Today I took a day off and it was really hard to make the decision to do so – it’s mid-week and there was absolutely no reason to take a day off. I just wanted one because I wanted to get my head straight with no distractions from the day-to-day or from friends wanting to talk or having to do the gardening because we are in lockdown and that’s what you do at the weekend when you can’t see people or travel – distractions that happen on non-workday’s.
It’s 10.56am, on a Wednesday, and I am still in my dressing gown – I just finished watching an incredibly inspiring documentary called ‘Unstoppable’ and it made me realise that I do have a ‘thing’.
My definition of what ‘Your thing’ is:
When, no matter how hard you try, you are continuously drawn back to it.
Bethany Hamilton, from Unstoppable, was continuously drawn back to surfing no matter the challenges thrown in front of her – losing her arm at 13 being the first major challenge she faced but she kept going.
It’s important to note that even when you know what ‘your thing’ is you will still have up’s and down’s – you will still want to quit but you won’t be able to because you are drawn back to it time and time again – sometimes I wish I didn’t have a thing, because I drive myself nuts with it, but it’s my purpose and it drives me forward.
Entrepreneurship is my thing – it always has been and I am coming to terms with the fact that it always will be. There’s no reason for it to be my thing – no-one in my family are entrepreneurs and I haven’t necessarily been pushed towards it. It’s there, ingrained in me and although there are days that I wish it wasn’t, most of the time, I love it – I love the buzz it gives me (and sometimes I hate the stress it gives me). I have tried to do what my friends have done – to fit into the corporate life but I found it really hard. I have tried to stick to a job, because I got judged for switching jobs too quickly, but I just couldn’t do it when I knew it wasn’t right for me – right for the way I am wired (and I guess how many entrepreneurial minded people are wired).
I guess I find my journey so hard because entrepreneurship is still so new – yet, ironically one of the oldest career paths. How do you think some of the longest running companies started? They had to start from one persons’ idea and that person then had to have the courage, against all odds, to build it. That’s what inspires me everyday – that courage a person finds to believe so much in something that they put everything on the line to make it happen. Not only do I personally love working in that kind of environment but I love hearing about it – I eat up content like ‘How I Built This’, regularly read books like ‘Let My People Go Surfing’ and ‘Shoe Dog’ and get a buzz every time someone says ‘I think I have an idea’. When I see someone who has wanted to start an idea, actually start it or even see entrepreneurs 5/10 years in their journey still trying to make it happen – it inspires me and feeds my addiction.
My journey started off with me making and selling jewellery to school friends, I promoted being enterprising to students whilst at university, I started my own company, bought my own company, admitted failure and went to work with one of the most incredible companies in entrepreneurship – Innocent Drinks, worked for founders, coached founders and then joined a founder to help run a company trying to make a difference – so, when I am accused again of not following the ‘correct’ path I won’t feel like crap because I am following a path and my path is entrepreneurship – and that’s ok (actually it’s really great!)
I think, like Bethany, I should share my dream which I hope gives you some inspiration to work out what ‘your thing’ is and to keep going for it. It’s not, to most, exhilarating like surfing the biggest waves but to me, it is – and therefore when you work out yours remember it doesn’t matter what others think because they don’t have to live with it everyday like you do.
I will be seen as one of the experts in entrepreneurship – I will have built and sold a business, I will change the way entrepreneurship is taught and alongside this I will have a family.
What’s ‘your thing’? If you don’t know, write down your journey to date and see if you see any trends or similarities. Or maybe you have a dream – write it down and ‘your thing’ might scream out at you.
When you find out what it is, hold onto it and don’t be ashamed of it – the hardest thing is not following the same path as everyone else – I struggle with it all the time but entrepreneurship is my thing, it’s not their’s, and that’s good because the competition at the top for me, being an expert in entrepreneurship, is much much smaller.