Failing is scary, but wasting your life is dangerous. The thing is – how do you know if you’re wasting your life? Entrepreneurship and business ownership can suck you in and keep you there, so it’s super important to audit yourself: Are you happy? Are you progressing? Are you achieving the goals you’ve set out? Is your family happy? Are you healthy? These are the questions I ask myself every single day. My answers to those questions tell me whether I should try harder at something or walk away.
Many entrepreneurs and business owners find themselves in a position where they feel stuck or are living within an illusion of what they think their reality is because they are mistaking their emotions with true passion. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is “wishful thinking”. They want something to be true even if it isn’t, so they ignore reality because it’s not what they want to believe. This is a very difficult trap to avoid and it all comes down to self-awareness.
Self-awareness is a super power as a business owner and entrepreneur. One of my mentors, Marc Randolph (Co-Founder and first CEO of Netflix), once told me:
The most valuable thing you have is your time. At some point, even the best of us run out of ideas, and that’s when you know it’s time to move on. But it’s a complicated question and not simple or obvious what the real thing to do is.
It’s such a valid statement.
Due to its complexity, this topic deserves much attention and care, or you might just find yourself going down a rabbit hole, sitting in your bed at 90 thinking, “where did I go wrong?”. You want to limit the potential for regret and the only way to do that is by removing (or having total control of) emotions and acknowledging the truths. And the only way to acknowledge the truth is by encouraging smart, quick failure. More people need to understand the difference between a failure that drives learning and a failure of execution. The first gives you valuable data, while the second wastes your time. So, you need to fail fast, fail smart and fail forward! If you’re in the same spot you were last year, you are most likely wasting your time. And I don’t want to undermine your grit, it’s something I prioritize, but with limits. As an entrepreneur you need to be passionate, persistent and persevere, but you need to be smart about it. You need to be passionate, persistent and preserve for things that matter, things that are moving the needle – the things that go above and beyond checking the boxes. You need to create a life that is fulfilling.
Most failures to adapt, grow and progress in life and business are the result of a person’s failure to let go of what has made him/her successful or happy in the past. The best leaders become experts at letting go, understanding that life changes, and there is a need to be agile and open minded. The truth is we can’t control the timeline of things, but we can control the outcome. If you wholeheartedly believe this, it will allow you to move, never underestimating motion (one of our core values). This is a sure way to not waste your life.
In the end, life and business is about moving relentlessly, decisively forward, because if you’re not, you’re most likely waiting around on the sidelines wasting your most sacred resource – time. Don’t wait, make a decision and move forward.