Feeding Your Joyfully Jobless Spirit

Entrepreneur is not a job title. It’s the state of mind of people who want to change the world. ~ Guy Kawasaki

My definition of job security is having a strong, healthy entrepreneurial spirit. That can only occur if you feed yours regularly with activities and thoughts that are nurturing. Here are some of my favorite ways to do just that.

Give yourself a change of scenery It may be efficient for factories to standardize their production lines, but our creative selves thrive on variety. Take a different route when running errands, take a sabbatical, take a vacation, take your laptop to the park. You can be productive without being routine.

Tithe your time. Don’t just send a check to support things you care about. Find ways to share your time. Joe started his own insurance agency and decided he’d spend 10% of his time doing volunteer work. Eventually, he worked his way up to 50% volunteer time. Did his business suffer? Not at all. He made so many contacts along the way that his insurance business grew naturally. This is another way to back up your personal values with action.

Create a research project. What would you like to learn more about? Look for a way to fund your research. Start by checking the grant directories at your local library. You may have a project that someone is eager to fund. Get clear about how this will enhance you personally and entrepreneurially. You could find yourself photographing mosaics in Morocco or interviewing artisans in Ecuador. Use your imagination to come up with a fresh research project that excites you.

Share what you already know. Write a tip sheet and get it published—or publish it yourself and distribute it. Mentor a new entrepreneur or a kid. Put your experiences together and teach a seminar. There’s no better confidence builder than sharing your unique insights and experiences.

Find great entrepreneurial stories. On a recent flight, I read about a mother and her daughters who started a fascinating business called Junk Gypsies. I was so enchanted by their story that I logged onto their Web site the next day and became a customer. There are thousands of inspiring stories out there. Make it your hobby to find them. After all, it’s your tribal history.

Offer praise. Master the art of writing the exquisite fan letter. Let other people know that you noticed. After I read Monica Wood’s breathtaking novel Any Bitter Thing, I began planning a review for my local library Web site as well as Amazon. And the author deserves a letter of thanks as well, I decided, to let her know that her writing has touched her reader. Catch others doing something good and let them know you noticed. It’s good for them and good for your soul.

Learn how to synthesize ideas. We should have learned how to do this in school, but I fear many of us haven’t. For instance, I was reading Jim Miller’s Savvy Senior column in my local paper. He was asked by a reader how to find a reliable handyman. He offered dozens of suggestions. As I read what he had to say, I thought that anyone wanting to have such a business could find some great suggestions for marketing themselves using the suggestions in Miller’s article. It’s equally important to look at enterprises that are nothing like yours and figure out what you can adapt from their way of doing things or their overall philosophy.

Attend with a friend. I always like to see pairs of people showing up together in seminars. I realize that sometimes a friend comes along hoping to discourage their companion from doing anything foolish. However, sharing a learning experience with an entrepreneurial friend can be a great way to extend and deepen the lessons learned. There’s nothing like building dreams with someone who gets it.

Record your journey. Keep an illustrated journal of your entrepreneurial life. Don’t just include the big events; do a photo essay of an ordinary day in the life of your business. The sooner you begin this, the better. It might become your grandchildren’s favorite storybook. Even more importantly, when we record and acknowledge our own lives, it raises our self-worth.