Entrepreneurship, risk-taking, can be a very emotional process and taxing process. Facing risk and the shear enormity of building ones vision can feel absolutely overwhelming, when thought of in its largeness. It may feel invigorating and exciting at first, but as the reality of what lies before us, in building our visions, begins to be better understood, stress, panic and fear can blind us.
Entrepreneurship is very much like the Hero Journey, which is a story structure that is all about overcoming obstacles and facing terrible burdens—only to eventually weather the storms and tribulations and come out the other end, better, stronger and more able because of having done so.
The American Dream is about voluntarily experiencing temporary discomfort and even outright suffering, in order to carve out a better life for oneself and ones future.
Fallback plans can absolutely be death to the prospective entrepreneur. In the average entrepreneur’s process, there comes a time, like in the Hero Journey, one finds oneself feeling as though life has absolutely devoured them. This feeling is symbolized in the Hero Journey as being in the “Belly of the Beast”. When the beast has swallowed you, there is very little light to be found, if any at all.
But we must remember that almost every Hero Journey (or adventurer) has experienced this necessary stage and that innumerable heroes of the past have come out of the belly of the beast, emerging as stronger and more able, albeit sometimes scarred or even symbolically killed in the process—with those killed, emerging from the belly of the beast, “re-born”.
Some, at the thought of such intense discomfort or suffering, give up. They throw up their hands and say, “This is too much for me. This is too hard”. Those are the people who never realize their potential and consequently, never come to know what they are capable of, and what they might become.
Life is hard. Buddhists say, “Life is suffering”. So, why not just accept that and do, as the mythologist Joseph Campbell says (who popularized the notion of the Hero Journey) to “Choose to live joyfully, within the sorrows of the world”. Such thinking gets one away from a victim-role playing mentality and, instead, enables one to be, for themselves, a lightning rod for inspiration and personal empowerment.
How was the Great Wall of China built? Brick by brick. Many suffered in that process. Today, we look at the vastness of that human accomplishment, mindful of the toll in human life and suffering it demanded. Few can look at this wonder of the world and not simply marvel and feel awe.
Kill your fallback plan, for in the tempest that inevitably awaits you on your adventure, it is far too easy, when things become too uncomfortable, too unbearable, when there seems to be no light at all, to simply “fall back”.
Keep going forward. In the words of Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” and I would add, is completed with another and another and another.