In the later months of 2014, I found myself burnt out, depressed, broke and regretting the rash decision I had made to move away from my family farm and start work. It was just moments after that first intoxicating taste of achievement and publicity, yet the media interviews and peer support helped drive reckless sleeping behaviours and further instability. My mind and soul became addicted to externally promoted success.
In an effort to fuel my new obsession, I spent my time searching the internet for my way out - something or someone that could help me change where I was going, feed my addiction and stop the careless thoughts that infiltrated my mind. With my back against the wall, starving my body from any form of health, I found entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship and innovation mentally became my way out of the position I found myself in. I was attracted to the money, a risk enhanced lifestyle and the suave and elegant founders who were changing the world and living their lavish lifestyles. I would go to bed dreaming of an excessive life, yet wake up dreading the day ahead of me and the journey I was on.
Like most aspiring entrepreneurs, I was drawn to the big names and money shared in the media and press- Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas and even Dan Bilzerian. My inner testosterone fuelled haunts drove me to want to create something bigger and better. It led me to startup culture, entrepreneurial quotes and American motivational videos filled with over-confidence.
My house and mind became lined in quotes like:
“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe...”
“No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they had plenty of sleep.”
Yet the quotes weren’t just there to motivate me, they became guidelines for the life I was aspiring to. I wore the lack of sleep and number of coffees for the day as a badge of honour and boasted about my greed led vision for the future. The inspiration hadn’t just motivated me. It pushed me to become something else, reciting catchphrases and quotes to excuse who I was gradually turning into. I was losing perspective about what mattered and felt myself slipping away.
The lowest day for me came at Christmas, just a few months later. I finally admitted to myself that I was not me - the person who I was aspiring to become was a figment of a blended dream of motivation from unrealistic hyperbolic speakers and eager driven passion from over-enthusiastic and over-promising entrepreneurs.
That day I collapsed, beaten, broken and confused, surrounded by my loving family. Amongst the hidden tears and needed sleep, I knew something had to change. It was time to let go of the desire-filled culture that surrounded the word ‘entrepreneur’, and unearth the truth behind the people who I was connecting with and who I was aspiring to become.
Several days later at the farm, I checked back in with who I was. Standing in the paddocks with the cows, hearing the river gently running and the whispers from the wind caressing my soul- I again became embedded with the spirits of my people and re-learnt the story I was supposed to live. My ancestors sang the songs I needed to hear as I basked in the sun, inspired to change and renew hope.
Almost two years on, I look back to that time and ponder what would have happened if I kept injecting myself with this macho, egotistical culture.
Unearth the hackathon weekends, entrepreneurial magazines and the social media of high profiled business leaders, and this vision and definition of ‘success’ is still encouraging and motivating young entrepreneurs to push further than they have before and be driven by a lack of sleep, a fancy lifestyle and money. While the success stories fill our media and share what is possible, it is time we create a nurturing culture for entrepreneurs to fail fast, realise their dreams and allow them to define what success is for them, while staying true to themselves.
Entrepreneurs are driven. Let’s make sure they are driven to create personal success as they define it, rather than dictate to them what this is.