The Quote That Helped This Entrepreneur Stop Questioning Himself
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Many of my friends are entrepreneurs. And when they used to tell me about their challenges, I would always think, I can never take those risks and face those obstacles. I liked to play things a little safer and found comfort in familiarity; it’s why I stayed in one job for six years straight. I wasn’t unambitious. I just wasn’t one to throw caution to the wind.
Eventually I did switch jobs, but the move wasn’t right. I spent a lot of time feeling angry, upset and trapped. Around that time, I started reading Stoic philosophy, thanks to Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss. This quote from Seneca jumped out at me: “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” It made me step back from my emotions and be more rational. I thought, All right, today I’m super stressed and worried. But why? I felt the same way yesterday, and yesterday turned out fine. So I printed out the quote, framed it and hung it on the wall across from my bed. That way, I’d see it each night as I went to sleep and first thing in the morning when I woke up.
Over time, that quote changed how I thought about myself and what I was capable of. Being in a job I wasn’t completely happy with made me question my very core: Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Maybe I deserve to be this unhappy. But what if I am smart and capable? What if I’m forcing myself to be in a role I don’t enjoy simply because I’m too scared to change? I knew I needed to take a chance -- to either confirm I was as good as I thought or discover that I really did deserve to feel bad.
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Four years ago, I quit my full-time job and formed my own company, Epic Signal, a social media agency. I pushed myself to pursue clients, accounts and business that challenged me. Then I sold the company to Mekanism, an award-winning creative agency, but stayed on to run it.
Do I feel a sense of impostor syndrome sometimes? Sure. I’ll always be adjusting to this new me. But like Seneca suggests, I need to look at reality instead of my imagination. And the reality is, I have a team of more than 30 employees generating eight figures in annual revenue.
I have since moved apartments, and that framed Seneca quote moved with me. It now hangs on the wall across from my new bed. I don’t actually read it every day like I used to. But I like that it’s there, just in case I need it.