On Entrepreneurship

You live in a city on the ocean. Your fellow citizens are generally part of two groups: normal people and people who have won medals. The people with medals are accorded higher honors and have access to the best things in life. You, of course, want a medal.

The problem is, the only way to get a medal is to swim across the ocean. Everyone who makes it across gets a medal. You even get free transportation back to the city.

Swimming across that ocean sounds pretty tempting. It’s just a swim, right? It’s only a few miles. You can do it. You’ve been training.

You decide today’s the day. You go down to the beach and look out over the ocean. Hey, the sun’s even shining. This will be easy!

You jump in and as you start swimming across, to your horror you find hands grabbing your ankles trying to pull you under! You start kicking and fighting, but you’re not prepared for this. You’re dragged under.

Somehow you find you can breathe, but now you’re stuck at the bottom of the ocean with a bunch of sad and angry people. They tell you the only way back to the city from here is to pull down some other poor soul who’s trying to swim across. If you can grab them, you’ll be let go.

Eventually you manage to grab an ankle and get out of the ocean. But then you’re back to the city. Those people with medals are even more aggravating—how did they make it across? What’s so special about them? You can do this!

You spend more time training, you even join a gym and find some like-minded people. You figure if enough of you swim together in a group, you can kick off the grabbing hands, avoid the jagged rocks, and make it to the island. You have a plan. It’s going to work.

You all go down to the beach. You get in your formation and dive in. You feel the hands grabbing your ankles but your plan is working! Your team is swimming across and making headway.

Halfway across people start getting tired. It turns out a few miles is pretty far to swim! You’re still kicking away those grabbing hands and that’s never getting easier. Plus you’re getting hungry.

Sometimes (right now), that’s what entrepreneurship is like. You’re fighting as hard as you can to get to that island and be a success. There are pitfalls—jagged rocks, people trying to drag you down—at every moment. The goal is in plain view (when waves don’t crash on you and obscure your vision), but it’s a long way across. The only motivators are your fellow swimmers and the knowledge that others have done it, and not all of them have big fancy boats to ferry them across.

The rewards are real, the dangers are real, and the crossing is exhilarating.

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