A friend of mine signed up for hockey lessons last week. She’s 45 and, by her own account, not much of an athlete. When she told me, I raised an eyebrow.
“Hockey lessons? You?”
She shrugged and said, “Seems like fun.”
She went on to explain that while she was watching her kids skate at LA Kings Ice at Pickwick Gardens in Burbank, California, she thought, “I should learn how to play hockey.”
The thought filled her with happiness, so she texted a group of her mom-friends.
“Anyone want to sign up for hockey lessons? To be clear, this is for us. The kids can join us, but they aren’t mandatory.”
The responses came pouring in:
- “Hell. Yes.”
- “Definitely. I need to get some aggression out. Question … can I knock down the seven-year-olds during practice?”
- “I’m SOOO in. Curious … do I need to know how to skate?”
Six of her friends agreed to take lessons with her. They start next month.
My friend still has never put on a pair of hockey skates. When I told her she was in for a big surprise—the transition from ice skates to hockey skates is difficult—she was nonchalant.
“I don’t know how to skate in figure skates either, so I imagine it will work out okay. My goal is to be able to play a game by the time I’m 50.”
There’s a French word for this throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude. It’s entrepreneur, and the loose translation is: Had an idea. Did it.
Not surprisingly, my 45-year-old, soon-to-be hockey player is an entrepreneur, and her story tells us a little bit about the inner workings of an entrepreneur’s journey.
1. Entrepreneurs take action when the spirit moves them to do so.
Much has been written about the difference between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs. The popular notion is that entrepreneurs take action when they have an idea.
This is not entirely true. Over the course of the year, entrepreneurs come up with hundreds of ideas, but most of them are not worth exploring. Most of the time, entrepreneurs do not take action. The ideas are discarded or, at a minimum, shelved.
Once in a blue moon, though, they have an idea that is worth exploring, and they know this to be the case because they can feel it. Before their conscious, logical minds have the chance to evaluate their ideas, excitement takes over. They feel the need to take action immediately.
It bears noting that I don’t believe in magic. Perhaps this intense feeling is actually their subconscious minds at work, but I have had this feeling. The best I can describe it is to say that it is cosmic, as though the universe is working on our behalf to point us in the right direction.
The voice is not taciturn; it is screaming: Yes! Yes! This one will stick!
Writers say that they have the same feeling when they land on an idea for a story. They might wrestle with various possibilities for months when suddenly, while they are getting their car oil changed or filling out their taxes, an idea will pop into their heads: Yes! Yes! That’s the one!
I believe it is true that all of us have those feelings. Entrepreneurs believe that those feelings, albeit mysterious, are evidence that we should pursue an idea
2. They often don’t have patience, but they have persistence.
While it is true that the spirit moves entrepreneurs to take action, and they do so quickly, entrepreneurs also understand that they will not slap on a pair of hockey skates and bar down on Day One.
All new ideas take time to implement. Entrepreneurs will work those long days during the quiet hours when everyone else is sleeping. They realize that it might take months or even years to bring an idea to life. Some of them have day jobs. Some of them have steep learning curves. Some of them have no idea how to implement that idea.
They do know that when an idea screams out, they should hold tight until the end. The idea is a lifeforce, and entrepreneurs persist so that it can unfold, grow, and manifest.
3. They understand that it is almost never the “how.” It’s almost always the “who.”
Rare are the entrepreneurs who can implement every aspect of their idea on their own and then take it to market. Almost always, an idea requires many other players, people willing to say, “Hell, yes. Sign me up.”
These people are not simply there for moral support (though it helps). They are there because they add a piece to the puzzle.
Too often, people get stuck on the “how,” and because they do not have all of the answers, they are defeated. A better approach is to ask: Who can help me with this? Usually, people in your existing network can help you, or they can send someone your way.
4. They can tolerate discomfort.
A huge correlation exists between the willingness to try something wildly outside of your comfort zone, and the ability to succeed at a new venture.
In anything new, you will fall down—and often. You will get bruised up, pretty badly, and you will have to decide whether you want to keep going back for more.
Beyond that, you will have to learn a new language. The joke in hockey is that players are bilingual. They know their native tongue, and they know profanity. But there’s another language in there, too—a language with terms like chirper, deking, and biscuit. Beyond that, hockey has its own culture, as does everything.
It can be uncomfortable not knowing, feeling ignorant, and being surrounded by a language and culture you do not yet understand. Entrepreneurs are okay with this. In fact, some of them don’t even bat an eye when faced with something they don’t understand. Enthusiasm for their idea is so high that curiosity replaces shyness.
They stick it out (pun intended), despite the discomfort, and they learn the language.