Potpourri: bin Laden – SEALS – and rising to a challenge: Starting a business
Since the death of Osama bin Laden there’s been considerable interest in Navy SEALS from whose ranks the commandos who killed him came. Most everyone knows that precious few can endure SEAL physical training and meet the standards for emotional stability, attention to detail, and team-above-self. Surprisingly, as SEAL Lt. Cmdr. Eric Grietens wrote in The Wall Street Journal, some who qualify “seemed impossibly weak” at the beginning, “were skinny and short and whose teeth chattered just looking at the ocean… were visibly afraid, sometimes to the point of shaking.”
When I read the above, I thought how hard it is to predict inner strength and commitment, especially our own. We rarely know what we”re made of unless we overcome severe adversity or go far outside comfort zones.
Those who take the leap to start their first business don’t risk their lives like SEALs, but in their own way do put their well-being on the line. They often temporarily jeopardize the security of their families and their futures to create something out of nothing. It isn’t battle but it is frightening, a very real kind of “do or die.” If they don’t generate sufficient cash flow, they fail. There’s no place to hide and they must answer for the consequences.
I might be overreaching by bridging from Special Forces to would-be entrepreneurs, but fear is fear and countless individuals throughout our country, at this moment, are putting their “lives” at risk to pump life into business ideas they dreamed up. Sometimes, they lie awake at night wondering whether they’ve lost their minds. Some are calculating how much longer they can last before they must throw in the towel. A year? Six months? Three?
Acquaintances and family know they have taken this gamble and they can’t fathom how they will show their faces if they do not succeed. They might look at their children, their spouses, even their pets, and worry whether they are letting them down while they anxiously wait for the next sale as they network and prospect wherever two or more are gathered.
They draw strength from sayings like, “At least once in life, you should jump off a cliff and build your wings on the way down.” When seriously challenged they might recite the 23rd Psalm. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow…”
And yet, if they are dogged, provide a product or service the marketplace values, have high energy, are people-oriented, and, lucky, they will one day notice they emerged from a tunnel in which they spent months, perhaps years. The air is crisp, the sky blue, and all looks somehow different. The business works! We did it! The dream came true.
Occasionally they look back and wonder how they endured. How did they swallow so much anxiety and prevail? They weren’t certain they had the fortitude. They only knew they wanted badly, BADLY, to succeed.
Successful first-time business creators are not remotely Navy SEALS, but they do have an inkling, a slight, very slight but genuine, appreciation for what it feels like to put it all out there and, in spite of self-doubt, doubts of others, and fear, triumph.