I met a 70-year-old entrepreneur yesterday. Over the past 45 years, he built a business that services some of the top celebrities in the world. He changed how celebrities look at themselves but back in 2008 his business crashed. Since then he invested millions back in the business to make it work again, even though he didn’t need the money nor the clients. Why? That is the question. What is it that is so deep inside of us that drives us to compete, to need to win, to take the next hill, and in many cases, at all costs?
As an entrepreneur, I know the high you can get from creating something successful. I know the passion that comes with it, the juice that you get from closing that last deal, from hiring that killer sales rep from your competitor. But why? Why do we spend so much of our lives trying to build businesses? Why do we invest our hearts, souls, and so much more, at the expense of everything else in order to prove that we can build a successful business?
Building a successful business becomes a part of our identity. How we define ourselves in our culture is so tied to what we do, rather than who we are. Our need for an identity – that package that tells the world how “successful” we are when inside we’re all the same. I’ve had the pleasure to meet thousands of entrepreneurs and business leaders over the past 30 years. Each one of them has an individual drive that is unique. Each person’s drive comes from someplace deep down inside, but why are we so determined to succeed?
I believe there are many factors, but what if the main reason is our own insecurity and our lack of personal identity. Who would we be if we weren’t our business? Who would we be if we weren’t able to be defined by the way we make a living? Centuries ago do you think people cared as much about what they did? I believe most people were still in real survival mode, trying to provide food, water and shelter. Today that isn’t the case for so many “successful” business owners and entrepreneurs. So what is the drive?
Since the time of the Greek philosophers we have asked the question “why are we here?” Today, most entrepreneurs and business leaders that I meet believe that we are here to create and build more, but to what end? What is the purpose and how do we do it in a conscious manner?
Who are you?