2 Replies to “Q&A on entrepreneurship and life from my brother-in-law”

  1. Dear Brian,

    I love your comments and the way you have reflected on your life. In fact, great analytical remarks. However, I´ve got a question for you: you say that you used to equate success and failure to love and isolation.

    What are really “success and failure” for you nowadays? How would you define a successful person and a loser? Aren´t we determined to be sucessful or losers depending on our inborn capacities and abilites and the place where we were born? Are we really free to choose all our steps in life?

    Thanks a lot.

    1. Laura –

      Sorry that it has taken me a little while to reply to this! I’m still getting used to the comment system here. Anyways, I’ll do my best to answer your question. I think the best way to address my old thinking of success and failure is that they were extrinsically motivated. That is, I determined both success and failure based upon external factors, such as people’s opinions. That extended to feelings of love as well. Love used to be something that I sought from the outside, but now I realize that you must first love yourself, then love others. That’s all the love that you can control. Whether they love you back is out of your control. To put it another way, you cannot be abundant in anything – not love, money, prestige, friends – unless you are first grateful for that which you already have.

      Therein lies my current concept of success: it is intrinsically motivated. You can only decide if your are successful. A job title, dollar amount, car, award, or even a spouse can’t deem you a success. It’s only you that can decide that for yourself. People live their entire lives striving to become a success, but that means that they are simply looking for that which they don’t have. If you’re always looking at your neighbor’s yard, you’ll never notice the flowers growing in your own. To define success the way that I see it today, it’s living a life that expresses the person who you are, expresses your personal gifts to the world, and makes the world a better place for you having done so.

      Regarding freedom of choice, I don’t agree that there is a predetermination of our life or opportunity based upon where we are born or “inborn capacities.” Self limiting thoughts like that are the thoughts that, to me, define a “loser’s” mentality. First and foremost, thoughts are not things. Labels are not things. The people around you may act as though they are, but you don’t need to accept their labels and limitations. If you’re always told “no one from this town ever does anything with their lives; we’re all losers,” you can choose to believe that and make it a reality for you. It isn’t a universal truth that everyone from that town is a loser. It’s just your truth, if you chose to believe it. But you don’t need to do that.

      A great, perspective on this that uses modern-day applications can be found in Steven Kotler’s book “The Rise of Superman.” His book uses extreme sports to show that as soon as an athlete completes something that was previously thought to be “impossible,” that trick typically become commonplace. It’s simply because it alters the way that other athletes think about what is possible vs. impossible.

      If you believe that you were born with only certain capabilities, then you will be limited to those capabilities. If you choose to believe that you are not limited, then you can achieve great things. Like most beliefs in life, how can you be sure that they are true unless you actually test them? For instance, yesterday I went to Starbucks w/ my friend and I told him we were going to ask for free coffee. He told me that was insane and Starbucks would never give us free coffee. Well they did. He wouldn’t have gotten free coffee if he had stuck to his beliefs. It’s a small example, but one that actually occurred (I have the whole thing recorded and I’ll share it soon).

      It often helps to look at obstacles as opportunities or simply a hurdle to leap over rather than a frustrating or unfair wall that blocks you from success. You can either worry about whether other people have it “easier” than you do because of conditions outside of your control, or you can just worry about yourself and do things your own way. It all comes back to the same thing: you are responsible for the love you feel, you are responsible for your own definition and feelings of success, and you are responsible for making the most out of your own life’s situation. For further proof on this, take a look at the lives of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Viktor Frankl.

      I hope this adequately addresses your questions. I’m happy to dig in more if you’d like.

      Stay well,

      – B

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