You May Not Be Human

What do you want today?  What do you want for this week?  The coming month?  This year?  If you want it, do you want it badly enough to go after it?

In a discussion with a friend of mine earlier today, I challenged him:  “You say you want something, but you never do anything to get it.  Ya know, if I said I wanted to lose weight, it’s not going to happen if I just sit on my butt all day, shoving junk food in my face.”  He replied, “It’s human nature to want something but never go after it.”  Really?  Because as I think about my friends, family members and acquaintances, I see a whole bunch of people who wanted something badly enough to go after it, including myself.

So, if there’s ever been anything you’ve wanted badly enough to work, sweat, and sacrifice for, chances are, you’re not human.  I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but I thought you should know.

I was thinking about some of my “not human” friends today.

  • At least three who’ve given up smoking in the past year, because they wanted better health.
  • Several recovering alcoholics.
  • Many, many who have lost a LOT of weight due to diligent exercise and changing their eating habits.  (One even did so well, he no longer needs insulin or other meds to manage diabetes.)
  • The countless others who have dared to pursue financial freedom through aggressive saving, debt-reduction, and wise investing.
  • Still others who are seeking financial independence through starting completely new businesses or diligently working to grow existing indie businesses.

Even animals want something enough to go after it.  Have you ever seen a lion chasing a gazelle?  The lion wants dinner, and that gazelle wants to see another sunrise.  The lion has choices – wounded wildebeest, slow zebra, less intense gazelle.  Chances are, the lion will eat.  The gazelle has two choices – run like hell or feed hungry lions.  There really is no other choice for him.

If even wild animals want something badly enough to pursue it by their very nature, then humans also, by nature, will go after what we want if we desire it badly enough.  The difference is, we have moral guidelines and societal mores to place some boundaries on what we go after.  Promotion?  Sure!  Neighbor’s husband?  Not so much.

If my friend is right and it’s not human nature to go after what we want, then I challenge you to embrace your non-humanness.  Be a gazelle.  Be intense about succeeding at what you want or failing as you go after it.  But DO IT.  And do it again.  And learn from every mistake, every miscalculation.  Don’t fail and say, “Well, I tried” and never try again.  Name the failure:  “Shoot!  I forgot to allow for that expense.”  “I didn’t work hard enough grasping that concept.”  “I messed up when I didn’t show up for work.”  Own it.  And learn from it.

Do you want the success bad enough?  Then go after it.  Do you want a better life, better health, more disposable income?  Then work for it.  You can do this!

What an Entrepreneurial Family Looks Like

It started off with me owning my own business.  It’s not a unique business or completely new; people have been using soap for thousands of years.  I do, however, have my own special niche that is unique in the industry.  My daughters and husband are willing and (sometimes) enthusiastic helpers, because they know the advantages of my business being successful.

Then last summer, my older daughter began to run her own small mowing business.  The goal at the time was to earn money to go on mission trips, but then she discovered that she really likes having money of her own.  Her business grew a little this year with the incarceration of her primary competition.  Hey, gotta seize the opportunities as they come.

Then it happened.  After six months of “any day now” and corporate postponements, my husband got laid off as part of a corporate takeover and decided to launch his own business, a dream he’s harbored for at least twenty years.  His former boss told him that he’ll be working harder the first six months than he has ever before, and his chemical supplier said that after the first one hundred customers, it gets easier.  (He seems to be getting closer to that mark every day.)

Peter is doing what I call the “entrepreneur hustle.”  The day after receiving his last paycheck – this happened to be a Saturday – he was busting butt building up his customer base.  He’ll work for several hours taking care of his customers’ lawns, then come home and make phone calls and do computer work.  My daughter went out with estimate sheets as she was working on her customer base.  I go into shops and make contacts with people via email with whom I want to have a working relationship.  Being an entrepreneur is all about doing the hustle.  (Not to be confused with hustling customers, which is a bad practice.)

I’ve gotta insert a quote by Dave Ramsey here:

“If you work like no one else now, then later you can work like no one else.”

What does that mean?  Most people are happy getting by working a 9-5, Monday-Friday job.  They make enough to pay their bills, tend to their families, save a little for vacation, hopefully put away for retirement.  They are content biding their time, ticking off the minutes until retirement, complacently working as a cog in a larger wheel.  Then there are the entrepreneurs.  These are the ones who have a dream and a passion; they happily put in at least 60 hours a week to pursue their passion, and they reap the benefits from it.  That means that they can set aside even more for their retirement nest egg and retire early, enjoying life while others are down in the coal mines of corporate America.

One day not long ago, my daughter was heading over to a neighbor’s lawn to mow.  Peter was working in the office, and I was thinking a quick nap would be nice; after all, my work wasn’t going anywhere.  I discovered that it doesn’t work that way anymore.  Having this many entrepreneurs in the household has a peer pressure-type of motivation on each of us.  With all this hustle going on, we each know that we’re not the only person working.

We also help each other.  Peter has done a lot of legwork for my business.  He’s made initial contacts with potential customers, he’s picked up oils for me, and he’s helped with manufacturing.  Both of my daughters have helped wrap soaps and have helped make them.  They often accompany me on deliveries and customer visits.  My younger daughter and husband help the older daughter with her lawns when she needs a break.  And we’re all helping Peter with his new business venture.

I spent part of Sunday night hand-addressing envelopes. The curse of having the best penmanship in the family.
I spent part of Sunday night hand-addressing envelopes. The curse of having the best penmanship in the family.

This was how I spent Sunday night.  I had a stack of envelopes that I’d told Peter I’d address for him.  I sat in the living room at my parents’ house (we’d gone up for a funeral) while they watched a Chuck Norris series from the early 90s, and Dad and I ruthlessly critiqued the commercials, all aimed at the elderly and gullible.  I’d discovered that the handwritten note goes a long way towards making customers feel special.  Peter had over 60 letters in this stack alone, and no way were we handwriting that many letters!  This is time-sensitive, though we did personalize the mail merge, and one of my former soccer families got a personal greeting at the bottom of their letter.  Each was hand-signed, as well.

Whether or not they’re all working on the same business, the entrepreneurial family shares some characteristics.

  1. Entrepreneurial families help each other out.  People go into business to make money, and usually that money is to help the family in some way, which creates a common goal.  Helping each other is a way to ensure that everyone meets his/her goals.
  2. Entrepreneurial families encourage each other.  “Ohhh…  That soap is gorgeous!”  “Her lawn looks good!”  “You’ve got this!”  And one I texted today:  “Yea!  But this is getting so commonplace now :D,” upon learning that Peter had sold another account.  Frequent encouragement keeps each other energized and confident about the next step.
  3. Entrepreneurial families motivate each other.  “What do you mean you’re going to sleep for two hours this afternoon?  Get your butt up and get working!”  “Hey…  I need to use the desktop this afternoon.  Why don’t you go ahead and get your computer work done while I’m in the workshop?”  When you’ve been working all week on a new business and the weekend rolls around, the last thing you want to do is work more, no matter what the work load looks like.  Motivating each other helps keep the work flow going and ensures they meet each next small or large goal.

I never dreamed we’d have so many entrepreneurs in one family!  It’s an adjustment for sure, but we’re all feeling calmer, more confident, and way more excited about what lies ahead.