Life is Yours to Waste

20 under 40 headshot - 2013It seems about once a year, a great video shows up in my inbox and challenges me to STOP and take a moment to make sure my juevos are intact.

This video, called “This is Water” narrated by David Foster Wallace, reminded me that we all have a choice with how we perceive the world around us. The only variable is whether we have the guts to make the choice to be happy.

As a serial entrepreneur, I have learned a lot about myself and people in general over the years. The first thing I tell someone who’s interested in starting a business is DON’T! If that doesn’t deter them, I ask them WHY they want to start a business. The answers astound me sometimes.

“I want to open a sandwich shop,” a good friend said. My reply: “If you’re great at making sandwiches, then make sandwiches for your friends and family on a nice Saturday afternoon – don’t open a sandwich shop!” Owning a successful sandwich shop has VERY LITTLE to do with whether you make good sandwiches. You have to find a location, negotiate a lease, borrow money for equipment, hire and train staff (or work 18 hours per day), advertise, buy produce, deal with spoiled produce, deal with the health department, get a point of sale system…and you haven’t made a single sandwich yet!

There’s nothing wrong with working for someone else – some people get paid to taste ice cream all day! If in second grade someone asked what they wanted to be when they grow up, and the answer was “ice cream taster,” everyone would have laughed. Who got the last laugh?

My brother said it best to me, “Alex, the difference between you and most people is your capacity for pain.” It took me a minute to appreciate this compliment (at least I think it was a compliment), but he’s right. I thrive on multitasking, I love to build things. I enjoy putting ‘systems’ in place to grow a business. I not only LIKE the pain of running a business, I REQUIRE it to be happy. I know this about myself, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Life is YOURS TO WASTE. Yes, you have a choice – and that choice should be based on what will give you joy in life, not on being afraid.

I’ve screwed up many times in my life, more than I care to admit, but even during those tough times, I took comfort in the fact that I tried my best and gave it hell. No regrets. I challenge you to do the same.

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