Removing The Layers Between You And Success

Dan Sullivan

There’s a universe of activity going on in the marketplace, but we have to earn a place in that universe if we want to live out there.

For most people, the prospect of being directly involved in the marketplace is unthinkable, and they separate it from themselves so they don’t have to be exposed to the uncertainty, unpredictability, and mysteriousness of it. They move backwards and create layers of separation like:

  • “I’m going to work for a large organization.”
  • “I’m going to have recognized credentials for my job.”
  • “I’m going to have status within my part of the organization.”
  • “I’m going to be unionized so I’m protected by union rules.”

Their justification for these choices is the security they receive, but that security comes at the price of having no multipliers.

I’m not making judgments about anyone’s decisions. We all come from different places and have different goals for what we’re trying to achieve. No one can really know what another person’s history or context is.

It’s just that every time you introduce another layer between yourself and the marketplace, you lose the multipliers in life. If you want more multipliers, you have to get closer to the marketplace.

It’s certainly not for everybody, but my feeling is that it shouldn’t actually be any more incomprehensible living out in that universe than it is living in the middle of some large organization.

I’ve spent my career helping individuals create all sorts of structures to make this into a comprehensible, structured, and, to a certain extent, predictable way of living one’s life. I call it “Successful, Sane, and Satisfying”:

  • Successful: You should be able, as an entrepreneur, to live a life that is continually more successful.
  • Sane: You should be sane as you do this. In other words, you feel cool, calm, and collected—and it’s fun.
  • Satisfying: You get an enormous amount of enjoyment and reward—psychological and emotional, in addition to financial—from what you’re doing.

The thing you have to give up as an entrepreneur is all the other frameworks for thinking about the world that most people use to make things understandable for themselves. In exchange for giving that up, you get the opportunity to invent life on your terms and have it be exceptional.

I look at the world, and I think it’s a wonderful place. Other people look at it, and they think it’s a scary place, it’s getting worse, it’s dangerous. That’s strictly a function of the frameworks they have for looking at the world. My frameworks say that things are getting better but that you have to be smart about how you live your life in order to be able to take advantage of it.

It’s all a personal choice—but I think my framework has a better shelf life.

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