The map is not the territory

The rules are just lines on a map. They’re made up. Someone else drew them. Rules aren’t made to be broken, but it’s worth remembering that they’re always approximations. Rules are what someone else wants you to do. But they don’t limit what’s possible. Opportunity lies outside the lines and off the map. Opportunity is in the wilderness.

Breaking through

Your barriers aren’t physical, they’re mental. We’re limited by the stories we tell ourselves. But stories are made up. You can change yours. Write your own. What are the stories you’ve told yourself so many times you no longer realize you’re listening? Uncover those and you’ll uncover the assumptions holding you back.

Business is Art

What’s is art? You’ve heard the question before, and if you’re like me you think it’s stupid. “I know art when I see it,” I thought. Art is a good painting, a song, a sculpture. Unlike me, critics, philosophers, and poor students have written hundreds, maybe thousands of books to answer this age-old question. What is art? It would seem nobody knows.

Well let’s start with what we do know. We know art takes creativity. We know art is something that comes from nothing. And we know art is appreciated. It has an impact. Good business and entrepreneurship has all of those qualities.

“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art," Andy Warhol famously said. "Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” Andy is right.

And what’s worse than art? Bad art. The product nobody needs. The clueless corporation, or the mediocre restaurant. In order to make a good business we must bring all of our skill and creativity to bear and rise above mediocrity and conformity. To make something remarkable. To be an artist and make our best art.

We’re all meant to be entrepreneurs

Humans have always been problem solvers. The human spirit is the entrepreneurial spirit, and we’ve been contributing by creating for thousands of years. Our potential lies somewhere beyond us, driven by our limitations and the possibility of exceeding them. But we’ve been brainwashed to think otherwise. Brainwashed by school, by our parents, by our boss. We’ve learned to accept less because of our fears. Because it’s safe. Because we’re told to.

Tension is felt when we’re told to do things and how to do them. We know when we do the work our boss will give us more, and more of the same. The boss gets better at pushing and we get better at resisting. We learn to do the bare minimum and it stifles us.

But that’s not who we are. When given the space and opportunity our creativity is unleashed. Economists point out that most jobs come from new firms not existing firms, from small business not big business. The world is best served by you learning to be your own boss, to solve interesting problems, to do it your own way. To learn to be a leader and start your own endeavor.

We’re all meant to be entrepreneurs.

Listen

It takes patience to listen. It takes empathy. But most importantly it takes silence. You need space to absorb, and time to reflect. Finding the right moment to act requires waiting for it. You must listen and wait to choose the battle worth fighting.

You can’t take it with you

Remember you can’t take anything with you. All you have is how you feel about yourself. Avoid regret by seizing your opportunities. Eliminate guilt by treating people well, and making amends for any harm you cause. Avoid disappointment by doing your best, and be grateful for the good that’s come your way.

Make something every day

We get better by doing. So make something every day, no matter how small. As we get better at making we’re able to make greater things. We’ll never reach a point where it’s easy, but we’ll learn to face our fears and live with them. That’s critical, because we can’t create without uncertainty, rejection, and failure. Accept fear and push forward.

Ripening

Buddhists point out that we don’t know when karma will ripen and we will reap its fruit (or poison). Everything we do, no matter how small, has an effect. It’s easy to forget this because we often aren’t around for the results of our actions. Just as one small drop can make a ripple, our actions as individuals can have far-reaching effects.

So take care in what you do. You don’t know when the details will matter.

Garbage in, garbage out

Programmers have a saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” It means poor quality inputs produce poor quality results. It’s the same with our mind. What we fill our heads with influences our thoughts, creations, and solutions. Feed your brain junk and your thoughts will consist of junk.

Ask yourself if the podcast, book, news, or whatever is nutritious brain food. If not, go focus on something else.

New frontiers

It’s easy to ignore what’s right in front you when looking to apply yourself. But there’s so much value you can add today with what you already have, and what you’re already doing. Before seeking new frontiers invest in where you are. Have you done everything you can with your work? Your relationships? Yourself?