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If Your Work Doesn't Inspire You, Nothing Will

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I was just reading an article that made an argument for why smart people make lousy entrepreneurs. I couldn’t help but wonder what Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and Warren Buffett might have to say about that. Just a thought.

While there are plenty of ways to measure intelligence, I can’t think of a single successful entrepreneur I’ve known over the decades – and I’ve known plenty – that didn’t have a lot more going on under the hood than most. And I mean a lot more.   

If you follow my posts you know I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur, but I do run a small business that’s done pretty well for the past 11 years or so. And while I am known for a lot of things, I’m pretty sure that being dumb is not one of them.

Now, I might have found that article to be uninspiring or even offensive but I didn’t, not in the least. I bet nobody I referenced above would have and I’ll tell you why. We’re not thin-skinned balls of insecurity in desperate need of reinforcement. OK, maybe a little when we were young, but not anymore and with good reason.

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We’ve all seen our fair share of successes and failures. We have plenty of notches under our belts. And we’re relatively confident in our abilities and aware of our weaknesses. In other words, we know what we’re made of and what we’re not. We’re grounded in reality. And that makes us solid, for lack of a better term.

And yet so many people seem to be in constant need of inspiration these days. You can tell by the sheer number of articles, posts, tweets, and comments along those lines. They seem to be bottomless pits of need – Swiss cheese people just full of holes that need to be filled and refilled on a daily basis.

Look, I don’t mean to be critical. I’m just trying to help.

If you find yourself to be overly reactive to what people say or write, in frequent need of inspiration, or lacking a sense of purpose and always wondering if you’re on the right path, let me explain where that comes from and why accomplished people never seem to have those sorts of problems.

For one thing, we’re inspired by our work. That’s one thing we all have in common. That’s what enables us to stay positive when we’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it in. That’s what drives us to keep charging ahead in spite of enormous challenges.

We all draw inspiration from what we love. Our families, our friends, and, yes, our work. It’s not just what we love to do, day in, day out. It’s also what fills us with a sense of purpose and motivates us to achieve what many would never even attempt. It’s how we stay focused on the destination and absorb all the bumps in the road.

But you know what? We weren’t always that way. We all had to find ourselves. We all started out a little lost, immature, in need of short-term reinforcement. But experience changed all that.

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In time we found what we loved to do and that gave us purpose. We gained confidence from our successes and humility from our failures. Facing adversity and learning lessons the hard way gave us strength and wisdom. And facing our demons taught us we could do great things, not just in spite of our issues, but in some ways because of them.  

In time, our skin got thicker and we stopped taking ourselves so seriously. We came to realize the world is a very big place with a lot going on and everything isn’t always about us. We began to feel comfortable in our own skin. And we learned to appreciate what we have rather than always needing more of what we don’t have.

In other words, finding what we love to do helped us achieve a level of fulfillment, maturity, and dare I say happiness. It’s our work that inspires us and gives us a sense of purpose. It’s what inspires me and fills me with purpose to this day, every day.

If you’re in constant need of reinforcement and inspiration and unsure of the path you’re on, that’s a sure sign that you haven’t found what you love to do yet. It’s a sign that you should get out and about, experience the world, and search for your place in it. That’s what we all did. And we all found it … in our work. 

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