If You’re an Entrepreneur At Heart, You Need to Take the Leap and Work for Yourself
By Dan Dowling
The idea of working for other people else always seemed ridiculous to me; repulsive, even. I just knew it was the worst idea in the world. So when I worked the normal jobs I was expected to, I was never really there. I couldn’t get into something that I had a fundamental abhorrence for, let alone excel. I didn’t know how to work for myself.
So I always burned out and quit my jobs or got fired. No shocker there.
Yeah, it sucked that I didn’t have money; but worse was the toll it took on my confidence. Each time my square-peg self tried to fit into a round hole, I identified more and more as a failure. That’s not exactly the attitude you need if you were born to be an entrepreneur like I was (and maybe like you are).
After about eight failures-to-launch — leaving home again, coming back; leaving home again, crawling back — I was a 24-year-old locked in existential crisis, succumbing to panic attacks up to 10 times per day, wondering what I was on this planet for if all I could do was fail. And my options were clear:
Learn how to work for myself–follow my own path. Or go insane and die of a stress-induced heart attack before age 30.
That’s when becoming an entrepreneur became my only path.
From that rock bottom I had to build my confidence, tear down my old limiting dialogue (which was a herculean effort in itself) and relearn how to be me. That process took two years, and luckily I had my parents to support me, or I would have been homeless. But all the while I was orienting myself day by day to become what I always knew I could be: a difference maker. And I decided to do that through writing.
Two years into my self-improvement journey, I was fully supporting myself by writing what I wanted to write, on my own time, for myself, and making my work appealing to big markets. It was a dream, finally being a functioning member of society. But more than that, I was finally doing it on my own terms. That’s what made the experience magic and the impossible-seeming efforts of self-starting and self-improvement worth it.
Then I made even more money coaching others who read my articles how to rapidly and massively change their life, and how to break into their own work, too. Those entrepreneurial spirits make up about 10 percent of the population, I’ve found. And it’s funny…because when I started out, they all made 5-10 times more money than I did. But they didn’t care. They actually conceded that I was much farther along because I was doing what I wanted, when I wanted, irrespective of the desires of others, helping the people I felt called to help, and making money working for myself.
I was 26; they were 40. I made $30,000 a year; they made $200,000. But they hated their lives because they were square pegs in round holes, too — albeit in a much more comfortable existence than I had. And that’s when I realized that my poverty and total lack of early success was an enormous advantage. I was too uncomfortable to be anything other than who and what I was meant to be.
When will you follow your calling and work for yourself?
So now I’m asking you, how much more can you take? How much longer will you follow orders of people who don’t care about you or your family or your ambitions? How much longer will you say to yourself, “Working for others is the dumbest idea in the history of the universe,” only to put in half-assed efforts, earn half-assed results and feel less than half-ass of a human being?
How much longer will you dream about working for yourself?
If you like working for other people, I’m not talking to you. If you’re even okay with working for other people, I’m still not talking to you. Every individual has a purpose and a role in this world. And guess what? 90% of people are 100%, A-OK with working for others. They like it. They like being the go-to men and women for other people. They have ideas and passions and dreams, for sure, but when it comes to their work, they give a rat’s left nut (so to speak) about how their money is made, just so long as they make it. They want a comfortable home life with a spouse and a couple kids. They want leisure activities and expertise in hobbies like golf and tennis. These people must exist because the world needs businesses to thrive, and businesses need people to function. Plain and simple.
Then there are the other people. People like me. People like you, if you’ve read this far.
We were not designed to work for others, because we have skills and talents and desires that only suit us to the self-employed life–which is how we will make the biggest difference, create the most jobs and feel best about ourselves.
We, when given the choice, would literally rather cut our own hand off with a dull spoon à la Aron Ralston (you know, the guy who the film 127 Hours was based on–and it wasn’t actually a spoon; it was a very dull knife) than be forced to work for anyone but ourselves for the rest of our lives. We are talented and inspired individuals who either “succeeded” but felt empty because we didn’t succeed at being ourselves, or we were ignominious, barely-functional-to-non-functional disasters like I was.
Either way, we know that working for others defies our constitution and makes our lives miserable, no matter how many creature comforts we do or do not have. And we each have a choice.
We can choose to be ourselves and be happy, taking the obvious risks of failure, but having faith in our destiny and our ability to succeed. Or, we can choose to be a walking existential crisis and to continue obeying orders from people who don’t give a s#!% about us, then die knowing that we never actually lived.
It’s your choice.
So, to the employees of the world, I love you. You are my mother and father, brothers and sisters, friends and caretakers. But to the entrepreneurial spirits, to the square pegs that never could shave off their edges, to the people whose cries for meaning and passion were never answered at the behest of an employer, it’s time to get to work. Stop abusing yourself. Stop being okay with what you’ve been doing. Start working for yourself.
Come make the leap with me and the rest of the entrepreneurial tribe. Make plans for your distinct purpose and follow through with them every day until you are not only capable of supporting yourself through your passion and on your own, but are making the biggest difference you can to the most people you can.
That’s your road. Will you walk it?