As part of my recent internship project, “Entrepreneur Vignettes,” at Followgen.com, I’ve been told by some entrepreneurs that for them it was a “genetic proclivity”–written in their DNA that they would start their own business. This might be true in the same way Tiger Woods was destined to play golf. But isn’t it odd that when we meet new people we ask, “what do you do?” when what we really want to know is “who are you?” (side note: I have a friend that asks this latter, rather intrusive question when she’s drunk and meets someone at the bar. “Who are you?!” It always makes me smile. Oh, alcohol. Liquid courage? Truth serum? Maybe. Who knows.)
I suppose it comes down to a matter of perspective. Many people who haven’t yet “made it” in the way they define success hate this question at social gatherings. I’ve been one of those people. They’ll come up with some sort of euphemism for the job they are currently doing until they catch a break. “I’m a floor manager at a restaurant.” Translation: I’m a host at Applebees. “I’m an electronic sales technician.” Yes, so you work the register at Best Buy.
Is what we do really an indication of who we are? In some cases, yeah, I’ll buy that. There is probably something innate in people that have a drive to start their own business in the same way some feel compelled to create art. But reality doesn’t always allow for us to easily slide into what we really want to do with our lives. Furthermore, as successful as we might be in any chosen career, that can’t be all there is to a person. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur and an artist. Perhaps on the weekends you trade business casual for boho-chic, spread a huge blank canvas on your apartment floor and go all Jackson Pollock. Or maybe you play golf. Or both.
The next time I meet someone, I think I’ll ask, “what do you do on the weekends?”
One of my favorite entrepreneurs must have had all of this in mind when she said, “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.” – Gabrielle Coco Chanel