What it Means to be a Self-Reliant Entrepreneur
I’m working on a new book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business, coming out in October 2019. I’ll be talking more about it in the coming months, but I wanted to give you a preview now, because it’s a decidedly different book for me.
It’s one I felt I needed to write. Owning a business and being an entrepreneur has shaped so much of who I am. I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned along the way with others on a similar journey; this book is meant to inspire more than anything else.
The title comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay, “Self-Reliance,” published during the Transcendentalist period, which represented the first spirited counter-culture in America.
The book will include readings from Emerson and his contemporaries, such as Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Margaret Fuller, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Walt Whitman, and others. There will be 366 readings, one for each day of the year, and each reading will be followed by my thoughts on the topic at hand, particularly as it applies to the entrepreneurial life.
These thoughts are meant to guide you and help you study more deeply. Plus, I end each day with a challenge question, aimed at inspiring you to reflect on how the reading applies to your own life and business.
The Transcendentalists posed thoughts that were radical at the time. They felt that it was more important to follow your own beliefs than to follow the well-worn track of others. That life was about producing value rather than accruing things. That the essence of success is found through individual experience and self-examination, rather than through following a prescribed doctrine. They also felt that nature provided the most perfect example of how to live, and that inner peace was a goal worthy of diligent pursuit. Awareness of the present moment, they thought, was the secret to lasting joy; and the essence of life is to explore how all things are connected.
Some of their thinking and writing takes on a spiritual bent, which you do see in the book, but the larger theme is about how entrepreneurs often have that longing to become self-reliant and independent. Knowing yourself, understanding the connection between your own mind, body, and spirit, is a great deal of what goes into being an entrepreneur. Once someone finds their unique point of view, they can find freedom in any decision they make. And that’s true for anyone, not just entrepreneurs.
I’d like to end by sharing a sample reading from the book. This is the March 13 entry, entitled Duty Bound.
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson – Self-Reliance (1841)
Duty is a word often used to entrap people into doing the work that others think should be done. As a self-reliant entrepreneur you only duty is to do what YOU must do.
A phrase like this one attributed to Robert E. Lee, “Do your duty, you cannot do more; you should never wish to do less,” can be applied as metaphorical shackles to keep people from striving for something that only they understand.
You can and should do your duty—that’s not a bad word, but you get to define what your duty is.
Serving other through your entrepreneurial vision may be your duty, but so too may your greatness reside in tending to your own personal growth and health.
Raising two kids and paying a mortgage is a huge obligation and loving duty, but it may not be the complete duty. What you are committed to do can make room for what else you must do.
Challenge Question: What sense of duty is keeping you from chasing what you know you must do?
I’m excited to share more in the coming months. In the meantime, follow The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur on Medium for more readings and thoughts. Plus, send any feedback, questions, or suggestions you might have. I’d love to invite you to come on the journey; we’re going to build a community around the self-reliant entrepreneur and hope to see you there.
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