-Originally published September 20, 2014. Updated July 29, 2020-
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” –Steve Jobs.
When I was thirteen years old my father died, it was sudden, unexpected, and very sad. I remember not fully understanding, hoping he would come back and that I would wake up from the nightmare. It never happened of course, and as an adult I came to the realization that he’s just gone and will never come back. Whatever memories he left with me is what I have to cherish.
This makes me deeply understand the meaning behind Job’s words: Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Seeing such a close person die, makes you feel naked, not having anything to lose by following your heart, doing what you think is right, and being genuine with yourself and others.
Fear is in our nature, but knowing when to take calculated risk and ignoring ‘dumb’ fear is something each entrepreneur should learn to do. After we are gone, all that is left is the memory of us. So make this memory count for you and others. Create something meaningful, be kind to friends, people who you’ve just met, and people who you don’t need anything from. Smile and make eye contact. It will give people a great feeling, and it might just make their day.
Back in 2012 I started my first startup VentureOut because I wanted to see the product in the world. I barely knew what startups were, but I felt like I just had to build this thing because that’s where my heart was. There are so many things that I’ve learned since starting out. I think that there is a reason why first-time entrepreneurs end up building epic companies, i.e. Jobs, Zuck, Gates, Brin & Page etc. Because they don’t spend enough time in the ‘industry’ to sink on fear or doubt. They just have something awesome in mind that they want to see in the real world, and they go for it full speed! By the time they realize the mechanics, “it’s too late” they are far ahead, their intuition helped them figure out where they’re headed and how to proceed despite all challenges.
It’s this blind drive and realization of ‘nothing to lose’ attitude that ignites entrepreneurship. Execution creates new streams of drive and motivation, recharging your batteries.
Then, once you’ve built something, make sure you take it to it’s maximum potential–make it the best it can possibly be! It will take time, yes, and a lot of guts. But we live only once, this is your opportunity to reach your maximum potential and make a dent in the world.
Now go out there! Do what you’re passionate about.
I’m now working on AllFactors, it’s my third startup. And although this time around I’m much more experienced, wise, and understand the “game”, I still try to retain that first time feeling of no limits, of everything is possible and no fear.