A Non-Entrepreneurial Slap of Reality

My buddy – author, CEO, and consultant Peter Bregman – recently wrote a commentary for CNN.com advising people to embrace the recession as a chance to reconfigure their careers to be in line with their passions.

“Focus your time on what you’re truly passionate about,” he said. “Successful people are passionate, obsessed. And obsession isn’t motivated by money. It’s deeper than that. Find your obsession. Let it loose. …

“You’ll work at your obsession all the time because you want to. And that kind of persistence, that kind of focus, is worth a lot of money. But don’t make the mistake of chasing the money.”

The interesting thing about this article turned out not to be the article itself, but the comments about it that were posted by CNN readers. It was like people were responding to two completely different articles. Some were wildly favorable… thanking Peter for his inspiring words or saying that his philosophy can be backed up by their own experience. But others were downright hostile.

For example:

“Someone throw this guy off of the roof of Harvard Business School. People are starving to death looking for work and they’re supposed to find their inner child?”

“You are a jerk and should keep your trap shut until you learn a thing or three about hard work.”

“Is the author’s passion in life to write stupid articles? Or does he do this for the money? I’m guessing he wrote this to get a paycheck.”

“I think it’s great when people with high paying jobs and a big savings account tell us not to worry. Bite me, Peter.”

“This is (nearly) the stupidest article I have ever read on a news website. CNN is supposedly a news network, not kumbayah, feel good, ideological BS. Work isn’t necessarily fun, which is why it is called work.”

So what’s going on here? Why does the idea that work can be soul-fulfilling anger so many?

My guess is that Peter’s message will resonate with you and the other folks who read Early to Rise. If only because you’ve seen that it’s possible to make a good living online. Whether you sell industrial equipment or massage services or coaching or travel advice or radio-controlled toys or juggling equipment, you don’t think that entrepreneurship is simply “pie in the sky” talk by delusional ex-hippies or meaningless advice from the wealthy to the impoverished.

We’re entering a new phase in human history. The Internet is part of it. The unsustainability of our assault on our planet is part of it. A stirring of the soul – a wave of recognition that life is more than molecules and atoms – is part of it.

And saying it ain’t so ain’t gonna make it not so.

In my opinion, the CNN readers who decried Peter’s lack of “reality” are the ones with their heads in the sand. They’re looking at the world and saying, “This isn’t how things should be” – rather than looking at what IS and asking themselves, “What’s the opportunity here?”

Those of us who’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug know that we humans can dream a reality into being. And that if we don’t, we’re abdicating our responsibility to stand up to those who seek to minimize and disempower us. Those who want us to be good little consumers and not passionate seekers and boat-rockers.

Of course, entrepreneurs are not the only ones who understand this. But we’re the ones who get to test it out in the world of molecules and atoms. And when we succeed, our advice is sought out by others who want to follow in our footsteps.

My mentor and good friend Perry Marshall writes in defense of entrepreneurs on a regular basis. I confess, sometimes I’ve felt that he goes overboard in seeing “anti-entrepreneur” sentiment almost everywhere. But I’m reconsidering.

It’s important to recognize that the irrational anger is simply misplaced and projected fear. The fear is understandable. So don’t think I’m looking down on those caught in its grip. When I’m afraid, nothing anyone says or does matters. The fear projects its own rules upon reality, and anyone who tells me the monster isn’t real is just trying to get me killed. Hence, my anger. It’s self-preservation.

So what’s the takeaway? Here are a few contenders:

1. If you’re an entrepreneur, realize that no matter what happens to the economy, you’ll be in a better position than almost anyone to land on your feet.

2. If you’re doing well these days, keep your mouth shut. Most people will not celebrate your good fortune.

3. Don’t give advice to anyone who doesn’t ask for it. Heck, who doesn’t beg for it. The only people you’ll be able to influence are those who envy the spirit you bring to your work and life… not those who envy your money.

[Ed. Note: Howie Jacobson is an expert in using Google AdWords to create monster sales for your online business. You can master AdWords from the inside out with Howie’s book AdWords for Dummies. Get his complimentary AdWords ER Report “Why Most AdWords Campaigns Fail – and How to Make Yours Succeed” at www.AskHowie.com.

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