What Are You Missing
There is something that I have loved about being an entrepreneur and it literally has nothing to do with outcomes or accomplishments, money or success. It has more to do with discovery and the thrill that so often is a companion when being surprised by a different perspective on the world. Something that is I think, the reason that being an entrepreneur has called out to me.
It reminds me of the first time many years ago, that I flew a small airplane a few thousand feet above Cape Cod while I was learning how to fly. Something about that unexpected shift in how things look from that birds eye view of the earth, tended to give me insight into just how much more there is than I could have imagined when I was standing on the ground.
So, it has been in the early stages of those risky adventures called businesses that I have started. It has been the discovery and insights that accompanied my new perspectives that have made me feel significant, rather than any sort of measurement or mastery of anything.
While many people are in a hurry to get things organized and systematic in their new business, I wonder about what is lost as that part of the process takes over from the feelings of intensity and possibility experienced in the early stages of the new venture.
In his book, Brave Companions Portraits in History, David McCullough has a chapter called Long-Distance Vision where he starts off saying:
In the mid-1920’s, in several parts of the world, a number of brave, skilled young men and women began taking to the air at the controls of a variety of aircraft, most of which, by today’s standards, were unenviably small, fragile, and poorly equipped.
Small, fragile, and poorly equipped – sounds a lot like my entrepreneurial adventures.
He talks about people like: Charles Lindbergh; Amelia Earhart, Beryl Markham and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry among others. He writes
Though of different nationalities and differing abilities as pilots, these aviator authors were alike in their love of the freedom of the profession, their love for the still unspoiled, distant corners of the Earth and their affection for their fellow pilots.
The reason I am mentioning the particular challenge and bravery that these people demonstrated is because of concerns that they had about the impact of technological advancement on flying – or more particularly on the experience of flying.
They knew, too, that whether they as individuals survived the next flight, or the next, the pioneering age they were part of was certain to be short-lived, that with the steady advance of aircraft and instruments, their kind of flying would soon be a thing of the past.
I have some of those same concerns for entrepreneurs today.
I feel that the value of that risky phase of a new business, or new adventure of any kind, doesn’t lie in the finished highly profitable future business or achievement, but in the profound insights that the experience of embarking on something new provides. With today’s programs for entrepreneurs so focused on controlling risk and focusing on reward, I wonder if new entrepreneurs aren’t cheated out of the most fundamental opportunity that has them taking the leap in the first place – the opportunity to discover the expansiveness of their own nature.
There is in my opinion, a rush to the illusion of the security of the known, rather than losing oneself in the mystery of the transformative experience of an intuitively guided new adventure. With that illusion of safety and security, our nature seems veiled and forgotten.
In the introduction to his wife’s book Listen! The Wind, Charles Lindbergh foresaw the day when passengers flying the Atlantic would have no more contact with the elements or the water below or any of the beauties of the earth’s surface than if they were riding a train through a tunnel.
Beryl Markham used the word religion and wrote of seeing things for the first time in proper proportion: “I saw the alchemy of perspective reduce my world, and all my other life, to grains in a cup.
The miracle of the airplane, wrote Saint-Exupéry, is that it plunges us “into the heart of the mystery.”