Entrepreneurs are at the forefront of the 21st century. Look back 50 years at the cultural heroes who made the cover of Time magazine or any of the other periodicals, and you’ll see military or political leaders, artists, or scientists. Today, they’re people like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs.
So there’s a growing awareness that entrepreneurs are driving the world’s progress, but what is it that really motivates people like you to go off on your own with no guarantee of success or even income?
It isn’t what most people think. It’s not money, and it’s not status. It’s freedom. This freedom comes in four different varieties, and when you become conscious of them, it has a tremendously clarifying effect on your thinking:
- Freedom of Time. You want to spend your working life doing what you really enjoy doing, and you also want the freedom to spend time not working too, so you can have a full life and pursue your other interests.
- Freedom of Money. You don’t want a ceiling on how much money you can make for doing a great job, for coming up with valuable new solutions or inventions. And if your efforts generate money, you don’t want anyone dictating how much of that money you can keep.
- Freedom of Relationship. There are certain people you love working with—both inside and outside your business—and you want to spend more and more of your time surrounded just by these people you click with, whom you appreciate and who appreciate you.
- Freedom of Purpose. This entrepreneurial company you’ve created is not just a job or a career; it’s actually a vehicle to all sorts of things that relate to your fundamental values and ideals in life. This allows you to have a tremendous sense of purpose for being on this planet. Entrepreneurs are the greatest contributors of money, opportunity, and capability to communities all over the world, in every field of human activity.
When you lose sight of these four freedoms, that’s when you start to hit barriers and encounter complexity. At any time, though, you can bring your focus back to expanding these freedoms and find that your life immediately gets simpler; your decisions, actions, and communication become clearer; and you experience continual growth.
Illustration by Hamish MacDonald.