The Authentically Authentic
Guide to Communicating
Marketing, Storytelling, Public Relations, Buzzwords, and Other Dark Arts
This article originally published on Inc.com
If you wanted one election outcome last week--but got another--you were reminded that the world is an uncontrollable place.
And that can be a hard thing to internalize.
If you thought you signed up for a good job, for lifetime employment in a factory, only to find that regardless of how good of a job you do executives still outsource you--well, you are again reminded that the world is an uncontrollable place.
And that can be a really hard thing to internalize.
But while most of us can't shape world events, we can exert some level of control over our own lives.
1. Define your worth by what can't be taken away from you. Growing up, my family struggled economically, but they did have their moments, and they always validated those moments with things.
The new Jeep with big tires and a lift kit that my dad always wanted.
The new, bright red car my mom always wanted.
Cool shoes--finally--for my brother and me.
My parents were no different than the rest of us, and I'm glad they got us better shoes. Trust me: Kmart made a poor imitation of a Reebok Pump.
But all of that--the Jeep, the shiny red car, the house, even the shoes we outgrew--was all temporary, and everything but the shoes was taken back by a lender. Each of those losses wounded my parents and left scars that never healed.
Don't define yourself by material goods, no matter how hard you worked for them, and no matter how much you think you deserve them. Anything material can be lost or taken, or simply will decay with time.
Instead, define your worth by the things no one can take away from you.
Like what's in your heart.
And what's in your brain.
Compassion and knowledge can never be taken from you, and having something that can't be taken from you is the definition of control.
2. Take as much of your own destiny into your own hands as possible. Every time I read one of those "Global Economy Faces Impending Meltdown" articles, I have two immediate thoughts.
First thought: "Oh no, this was a horrible time to start a business!"
Second thought: "I would rather die in a fire that I lit than die in one someone else lit for me."
In other--less melodramatic--words, as an entrepreneur I feel like I have a hand in shaping my own destiny, even when things look bad. I can create a new strategy, develop a new product or service, or try something different.
It may not work out, but at least I'm not a bystander to my own success or failure.
And that's the best part of being an entrepreneur: having some control of your own destiny.
3. Remember that while the past is set in stone, the future has yet to take shape. You can't exert any control over something that's unchangeable, and the only thing that's completely unchangeable is the past.
It's already happened.
But you can learn from the past and use it to shape your future.
If four years from now you want to be a business owner or a doctor, or spend your days lying on the beach in California smoking legalized recreational marijuana, that's up to you.
It's up to you to find an entrepreneur who will mentor you.
It's up to you to figure out what it takes to become a doctor.
It's up to you to figure out how you can spend your days on the beach and still afford California real estate and legal weed.
All of those might be difficult--especially the third one--but if you want something for yourself, you can figure out how to make it happen.
And that's the ultimate form of control.