As I read stories of entrepreneurs whose startups were acquired by a fortune 500 company and made for themselves a profitable exit, I often pondered ” How did they do it”?
I browsed websites, blogs, forums to read and learn from people desiring what I desired : success.
The most striking finding of my search were not the answers provided, but the questions asked. There seemed to be a theme with questions such as : What company should I start? What’s the easiest business to start? What will the social network of the future look like? How do I Invest $1000.
I had asked myself the same or similar questions : what app should I build? What product should I create? What must I do to be successful?
In the consumer-digital age we live in, it was my impression that the key to success was to find the next “what”.
Then I discovered a secret. This secret is not hidden but overlooked. It is not complex but overwhelmingly simple. It has no apparent beauty but yet the concept is so enriching.
It’s not a vastly popular shared secret but it is vastly responsible for every success story you have ever read.
The secret is the following quote:
I realized that I have been asking myself the wrong question. It’s not really about “what” I must do, but “who” I must become.
A simple metaphor to illustrate this is that of caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly.
A caterpillar could spend hours asking itself the following questions : “What must I do to fly? What app can I build? What business can I start so I can fly?”.
These questions are ridiculous, I agree, but bear with me and let’s focus on the point I am trying to make.
You are the caterpillar, flying is your objective. It is what your version of “success” is. It’s unique to you. I might be a net worth of a million dollar for one, or go through chemotherapy for another.
All the questions that the caterpillar is asking are good questions and they are even relevant.
He can go to a seminary and learn the “7 habits of successful butterflies”. That will not help.
He can decide to take a course in Biology or Physics to gather as much as knowledge as needed to understand the science behind flying.
He can sit for hours listening to a motivational speaker and learn positive thinking, meditation and be electrified. I doubt that that would help him fly.
Further, he can go to a management seminar and learn goal setting and planning,
All of these things are good, and I would encourage the caterpillar to learn them but none of them will help him fly.
There is one and one thing alone that can make him fly and that is to become a butterfly.
The right question to ask is : “Who must I become in order to fly”.
Now, the caterpillar can only become a butterfly. It cannot become an eagle or a hawk. But it grows and develops until it reaches it’s potential.
I have drown so much strength in realizing this and it has completely changed my life and inspired those around me.
We tend to focus a lot of what to do, what business to start, what is the next big think. We ask ourselves what can I do, how do I become a millionaire by thirty.
I have nothing against “what-to” and “how-to” questions. I have asked myself the same questions and always will. They provide useful insights.
But here’s the thing. If I told you 15 years ago to build a social media app like Facebook before it was invented, and you had all the technical ability to do so but you were the type of person that never finishes what he started, what good would that have done you to know what to do?
You would start and would never finish and therefore never succeed even with the right idea and the right market conditions. I would venture and say even with the right amount of investment, you would still fail because of a fundamental character flaw.
See? Knowing what and how is not enough.
the real question is “who must I become”? In other words “what kind of person do I need to be”
Becoming has become my theme in the past 5 months. It has never departed my lips nor my heart. As I have continued to share this and inspire people around me, I was encouraged to put it in a book.
As I gathered a lot of my thoughts in my Evernote app, I had a lot of material that I thought would be helpful and maybe be fit for a book “Inspired to become”? Time will tell.
For now, I hope every article posted in this blog will help you become the person you need to become to achieve your own success.