When I talk about the fact that some people can be authentically happy having a job, many people are surprised because I’m such an advocate and champion for small business and entrepreneurship. That surprise is often because they miss the subtle but important point about small business and entrepreneurship being vehicles for thriving on both a personal and social scale; vehicles, by their nature, are meant to get us somewhere — they’re not the ends in themselves.
So, let me be very clear about this: I’m pro-thriving more than I am pro-entrepreneurship or pro-business. Small business and entrepreneurship give many people the opportunity to build the environmental and personal arrangements that are conducive for their thriving — but for people who have different values and priorities, having your own business can be misery-making. The vehicles of small business and entrepreneurship also provide us with the opportunity to contribute to our society through taxes and employing others, but again, an “opportunity” for one person is a problem for someone else.
And while “being an entrepreneur” is such an aspirational identity statement at the same time that it’s the socially approved state in entrepreneurial circles, the truth of the matter is that it’s not for everyone, nor should everyone get pressured into being an entrepreneur. I get rather frustrated when non-entrepreneurs are looked down on, as if their lack of entrepreneurial spunk or business-building drive makes them somehow inferior.
People aren’t less-than because they choose a life arrangement that works better for their values, (true) needs, and priorities. They’ve got far more figured out than those who stick to a path that isn’t working for them just because they can’t take the lessons learned and sunk costs and use them to build a better life for themselves.
I’ve advised clients to put their business on hold and get a job, not because their business was failing, but because it seemed that their self-identified conditions for thriving were better met by being employed than by sticking with their business. I’ve advised clients to get better or different jobs for similar reasons. To automatically presume that the entrepreneurial road is right for everyone is a type of lazy thinking that doesn’t serve any of us very well.
Above anything else, I’m pro-thriving. My mission is to help people get to that end goal, regardless of the vehicle they take to get there.
It’s time for a check-in: is your current path moving you toward thriving or maintaining the life that’s right for you? If so, focus on the things that are working for you, however they work for you. If not, what can you do to course-correct? Small steps can lead to big changes.