To be, or not to be? That is the question –
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them?
– Shakespeare (Hamlet – Act 3, Scene1)
As an entrepreneur, this extract from Hamlet’s (oft quoted) soliloquy resonates deeply with me. Whether we chose to address a massive pain that exists, and through innovation and perseverance, solve it comes down to a matter of choice.
Far too many of us (and until last year, I counted myself among this group) choose to work for organizations wherein we may be making a difference, but remain bound by the unjust, and often times ineffective, nature of the work that such endeavor entails. Our fortunes – be they good, bad or indifferent – are tied to the fortunes of the organization and at the mercy of the people who govern it. One’s own passions often times lay discarded on the side of a road that we plod along in the name of making a living.
The choice then is do we make a living or do we make a difference. Do we choose to pursue our passions and create something of enduring value, or do we play a small part in a big machine that may solve problems that don’t resonate with our vision. Do we choose the safe path – or beat our own.
Undoubtedly these are not easy questions to address. Doing what is easy, is easy – it is the path of least resistance. Not rocking the boat, etc. Taking a risk is more difficult. It requires the courage to face your fears – which in the end is your biggest enemy. I do not want to come across as being judging or portray myself, or entrepreneurs in general, as being somehow better. There is nobility in a job – any job – being done well. And for some, that is enough. But I think there is joy – and greatness – in leaving the world in a fundamentally better state because you chose to pursue your passions and make a difference. Or at least trying your hardest to do so. And if you fail in so doing, you will have overcome your fears and learned and progressed as a human being far more than if you had stayed on the well trodden path.
We need to make the most of the opportunities that we have. Having fear prevent us from making the leap – and making a difference – is a cost we can ill afford. To emphasize, I will quote the bard again:
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
– Shakespeare (Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3)
Think about this for a moment. Internalize it. And then ask yourself the question – am I pursuing my passion and doing meaningful work that helps address my own desires and vision? Am I happy now, or will I be happier if…