“I would rather have played for Wales at Cardiff Arms Park than Hamlet at Old Vic”
This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.
When I learned that the great Richard Burton had uttered these words I felt I understood him a bit better. After all, here was perhaps the world's greatest actor admitting that he had always treasured the thought of playing rugby for his native Wales above all else- even above the craft for which he was known throughout the world. In Burton's case this was no idle thought as he had been by all accounts a fantastic rugby player in his youth. He was also known to often express great discomfort and ambivalence towards the art of acting with all its inherent 'artificiality' as he put it.
Much like some very talented entrepreneurs I come across from time to time, Burton strikes me as a person who suffered from what I call "the problem of abundance". He was simply supremely gifted at too many things for his own good!
This is actually a real problem certain would-be entrepreneurs face. A combination of enormous enthusiasm, massive intellectual curiosity and wide-ranging interests can make it incredibly difficult for a multi-talented person to choose the right entrepreneurial path for themselves. Some simply sense that one singular venture might too confining, too limiting for them. Further, the knowledge that driving a company to success requires an absolutely relentless focus can be extremely daunting for someone who suffers from this 'problem of abundance'.
Another type of problem certain would-be entrepreneurs face is simply choosing a business for which they are not well-suited. (I actually doubt Richard Burton had this particular problem though his relationship with acting may well have been one of the love-hate variety). I have encountered many people who get into business by happenstance, or by 'falling into it' by some chance meeting, or worse. This too can be a recipe for disappointment and can lead to years of toil in a field that bears no interest and enthusiasm for them. Burn-out is an inevitable result.
It strikes me that the solution here is to first take the time to understand what drives you and why. Thereafter, you can pursue an entrepreneurial calling that you care deeply about, in which you know can roll up your sleeves and really try to make a meaningful difference.
The late, great John Wooden, (he of 10 NCAA Championships), may have said it best:
"Be true to yourself, help others, make every day your masterpiece....."