In the spirit of honesty and openness I like to write with here, I would like to share something important for me and for all those people out there working hard to make a better life for themselves and their communities. I’ve been thinking about the American dream, and lately how much that dream contrasts with the illusions we have seen around entrepreneurship, going viral, getting rich and famous, having 100k + followers. I write having struggled straight through and come out the other side of this illusion. That my Kickstarter would go viral, that that one blogger would write about me and POOF my business would be off to the races. That someone would pick up a video on YouTube and I would get all these followers and again, poof!
And a few months back I wrote about busting the myth in entrepreneurship. But this week I am again thinking about this as we learn that Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO, is the modern world’s richest man and Lauren Greenfield, who made a fabulous documentary on the boom and bust of an illusory banking economy, “The Queen of Versailles”, was on NPR reflecting on the illusion and aspiration for bling and influence that has squeezed out the American values that built this country, the topic of her new film “Generation Wealth”. This is very personal to me, because I have had to pick up side gigs to keep this going. Had to work very hard, had to dedicate an enormous amount of time, uncertain of how long this road is. I’ve had to swallow my pride and hustle. And slowly but surely my values are shifting, in spite of the pressure to go viral, to get rich, to have tons of influence immediately, to get noticed by the big personalities, I’ve had to refocus on the old values, the old ways upon which success was built: frugality, hard work, humility, and the dedication to do what it takes day in and day out for all the years it will take to make your dream happen, to stand back up and get back to work when you fail or things don’t work out as planned.
I am taking odd jobs, I am learning to sew, to follow patterns, to draw a real woman’s form as she stands before me. I am pinching pennies. And I am slowly but surely finding beauty on this path. And I think this is the soul of entrepreneurship, the soul of our foremothers’ and forefathers’ story that has been drowned out by the tech start-up gold rush noise. Perhaps this is an apt comparison. The person who lingers around a stream hoping to find gold because he heard of someone who found a large nugget, versus the person who saves money to build a shop in that same town, apprentices in one stocking shelves and learning the books and over ten years of dedication and hard work, builds a strong, thriving local business that provides real value to the community.
And maybe this is a generational thing, but we are so used to instant gratification with the fast pace of technology that even thinking about the long, slow, tedious hours it takes to learn to sew or to draw, or a new trade like metal or wood working, or running a type of business and a lot of us will think – My goodness. That is going to take forever! But the reality is that nothing in this world that we see and admire came from anywhere else but the long slow path of learning to create something beautiful. There is no other way to share our soul’s work. It just does not occur at the pace of email or text message, or Twitter.
And the risks are high. What is lost is when we forget the story that is the fabric of our country, when we can’t imagine anything beyond the tech start-up boom business? When we loose track of the values that would enable something stronger, more durable, more empowering for ourselves and our communities. Then we are left with nothing else but the illusion. So let’s reclaim the old values, call these illusions out for what they are and get back to work to create real value for ourselves and our communities – no matter how long, slow, tedious, painstaking the road. This is where we find what is real and make it beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *