From Chapter 7, “Tolerating Risk: Being a Doer, Not a Dreamer” in Ingredients of Outliers
Sense of Humor/ Humility
Another essential quality the successful entrepreneur must have is a sense of humor. Things will go wrong, often at the most unexpected and inopportune times. The customer who came to my hot dog stand and announced to all within earshot that I was the doctor who’d treated him in the emergency department a week earlier is a case in point. An embarrassing moment? You bet it was! But I still laugh every time I think about it.
A sense of humor is what keeps an entrepreneur sane. Failing to see the humor in all the crazy things you’ll experience will make the ride much less enjoyable.
In healthcare, a lack of sense of humor can be your undoing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked around an exam room for the Candid Camera film crew, believing that the only explanation for what a patient just said was that I must be getting “punked.” (“Wait, you were standing on a bridge huffing paint and then you fell off the bridge and only broke your ankle, and then stood up and were struck by a truck?”)
Ethel Barrymore, legendary actress of the early twentieth century, once commented: “You grow up the day you have the first real laugh—at yourself.” And the late inspirational writer and poet William Arthur Ward expressed that same idea: “To be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.”
To be able to laugh at oneself not only demonstrates maturity but also humility. The proud and the arrogant can never laugh off a mistake or an embarrassment. It would be an admission that they aren’t quite as perfect as they’d like people to believe.
The challenge with arrogance is twofold. Everyone loves to see arrogant people fail and will often go out of their way to not help an arrogant person. Arrogant people are usually deeply insecure and, as such, will never take a risk that could result in them being viewed as failures. The most competent people I know are also the most humble.
The goal of any entrepreneur is to make a contribution and to be paid a fair price at some time for the business. However, the most important advice I can offer is this:
While the payout is great, the fun is in the ride, not arriving at the destination. Or as Steve Jobs remarked, “The reward is the journey.”
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
• Here’s the “takeaway” message: Most things work out; if they don’t—I hope you’ll learn something, perhaps get a good story out of it, and, possibly, never make the mistake again. So, what’s not to like?
• If you want to grow, you have to risk.
IN OTHER WORDS
Entrepreneurs average 3.8 failures before final success. What sets the successful ones apart is their amazing persistence.
~ Lisa M. Amos
The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.
~ Peter F. Drucker
The entrepreneur in us sees opportunities everywhere we look, but many people see only problems everywhere they look. The entrepreneur in us is more concerned with discriminating between opportunities than he or she is with failing to see the opportunities.
~ Michael Gerber
I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
~ Steve Jobs
Entrepreneurs are risk takers, willing to roll the dice with their money or reputation on the line in support of an idea or enterprise. They willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets.
~ Victor Kiam
Going into business for yourself, becoming an entrepreneur, is the modern-day equivalent of pioneering on the old frontier.
~ Paula Nelson
The cover-your-butt mentality of the workplace will get you only so far. The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go.
~ Bill Rancic
Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.
~ Ronald Reagan
Emphasize a strong commitment to reinvention and self- renewal to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive. It encourages innovation.
~ Howard Schulz
Entrepreneurs have to figure out how to morph themselves into something better. You can’t sit on your laurels on any component of your business life.
~ Charles Schwab
The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and an actualizer. He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it, he sees exactly how to make it happen. ~ Robert L. Schwartz
Entrepreneurs are risk takers, willing to roll the dice with their money or reputations on the line in support of an idea or enterprise.
~ Victoria Claflin Woodhull