Closing Doors Softly

I think I’ve finally adjusted to the fact that I’m never going to be a war correspondent. I’m never going to live out of a backpack, drop everything and travel around the world to be where the action is.

I’ve also finally internalized that I’m also never going to spend a few months floating on a river with my best friend Jim. I’m never going to light out for the territories…at least not the way I’d expected. Huck’s learned to close the door softly.

Men at Forty

by Donald Justice

Men at forty

Learn to close softly

The doors to rooms they will not be   

Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,

They feel it moving

Beneath them now like the deck of a ship,   

Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors

They rediscover

The face of the boy as he practices tying   

His father’s tie there in secret,

And the face of that father,

Still warm with the mystery of lather.

They are more fathers than sons themselves now.   

Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound

Of the crickets, immense,

Filling the woods at the foot of the slope   

Behind their mortgaged houses.

When I wrote about disappearing into the fire, I spoke about the emotional burden of being an entrepreneur. But David, and others, eventually wrote about the burden of not being an entrepreneur, of not doing what’s been in the hearts for years.

One woman wrote about the sense of time being wasted, of the dream deferred drying up like a raisin in the sun (I’m feeling the poetry today.)

We all feel it, men and women: the poignant pain of closing the doors on the dreams. And yet, some rail, some fight back, some fight on.

“How do you know when to give it up?” one reader asked, plaintively. He’s worked for years on the system, the implicit architecture. He knows—with absolute certainty—that if adopted, his architecture will radically and inalterably change the way we all interact with information. He knows with the same certainty that he knows his name, knows the way his kids smell after a bath, or the way their laughter drifts down the hall after they’ve supposedly gone to bed, gone to sleep. He knows. But no one will fund it.

I tell him that the most difficult obstacle seems to me that there are simply no investors in the idyllic community he lives. And he knows that’s true; knows it better than I do.

I tell her that as much as she believes her vision to be true, it won’t work unless she has the capital to fund it. And she wants to know why lesser ideas get funded when hers languishes.

And I tell them both that I can’t tell them when they should give up. Only they can answer that question.

Pulling back, I think about my own dreams—those realized and those deferred. I think of Jung and his notion of unlived lives…and how each  of us faces the realization that there are aspects of us which must, simply must, be realized, be lived if we’re going to rage against the dying of that light.

When we find ourselves in midlife depression, suddenly hate our spouse, our job, our life—we can be sure that the unlived life is seeking our attention. When we feel restless, bored, or empty despite an outer life filled with riches, the unlived life is asking for us to engage. To not do this work will leave us depleted and despondent, with a nagging sense of ennui or failure. As you may already have discovered, doing or acquiring more does not quell your sense of unease or dissatisfaction. Stuffing down these rogue feelings or dutifully serving your life’s routines will not suffice. Neither will “meditating on the light” or attempting to rise above the sufferings of earthly existence. Only awareness of your shadow qualities can help you to find an appropriate place for your unredeemed darkness and thereby create a more satisfying experience. To not do this work is to remain trapped in the tedium, loneliness, agitations, and disappointments of a circumscribed life rather than awakening to your higher calling.” Robert A. Johnson and Jerry M. Rhul, Living Your Unlived Life.

For David, for the woman, for the others…walking into the kiln is living that unlived life; it’s awakening to that other life that’s out there, beyond the ennui. Yes, the emotional burden of being an entrepreneur is high–just as high as  the cost of not disappearing into the fire.

  • jchewitt

    I felt sad after reading this post, and I’m unsure why.

    It’s a choice between working through that pain in the present or being devoured by it later in life, yes?

    • jerrycolonna

      I think you caught a bit of my melancholia. Sorry. I don’t think the choice, the dynamic, is as clear cut as that, JC. I’m touching on the notion that either choice…to pursue the entrepreneurial dream or to NOT pursue the dream, has it’s pains. I’m reminded of something Pema Chodron once said in a teaching I attended: “Pain is not punishment. Pleasure is not a reward. They are just pleasure and pain.” The Buddhists teach that avoidance of pain increases suffering (and they do NOT recommend the pursuit of pain. That’s just dumb.).

  • http://www.participate.com Alan Warms

    Jerry great post. First thing that comes to my mind is a great speech I heard at a wedding – “nobody every accomplished anything great in this world alone.” Being an entrepreneur is about getting OTHER people excited about your ideas – excited about wanting to work with you, wanting to partner with you, wanting to fund you. This is not optional, it is absolutely a MUST part of getting something done. If you go around to tons of people, and the feedback is uniformly negative, no funding, etc….then the answer is necessarily no. You can’t do it in a vacuum – so take the feedback, learn from it, morph the idea into something that people do buy into. Need to use your ears – if no one will fund it, there’s a reason.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/gentschev Greg Gentschev

      There are tons of examples out there of people who got rejected dozens of times, didn’t give up, and ended up being hugely successful. JK Rowling comes to mind. People thought Fred Smith’s idea for FedEx was interesting but completely unworkable. And so on.

      So you do have to evolve your approach in response to negative feedback. The common quote about continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results is right on. If you get consistently rejected for funding, maybe you have to create a prototype by yourself to better show people why your idea would work. Maybe you should start a blog to clarify and promote your ideas. Maybe you need to find a partner. Who knows? Entrepreneurs who are immediately successful are relatively rare, and there’s a whole continuum of responses to negative feedback that should come before quitting.

      So I think morphing the idea is the right way to go. You have to be clever about coming up with workarounds to people’s resistance.

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks Alan. I think that’s great advice. And I know it comes from your own experiences so there’s a real truth in there.

  • http://veespo.com David Semeria

    Excellent post Jerry. To know when to stop requires immense objectivity. And from the inside, that’s practically impossible to achieve.

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks David. I think that question, when does one let it go, is just so damn hard, so damn poignant.

  • DonRyan

    I’m 41 and that post completely resonates with me. It is difficult to embrace the notion that some things have just passed you by. But you deal with it, play the hand you have to its fullest and make peace with it. That’s not such a bad thing.

    • jerrycolonna

      Exactly right…that’s why the Robert Johnson/Jerry Ruhl quote was so powerful for me. In it, I found an implicit answer to problem of the ennui of doors closing softly. Not only do you play the hand you’re dealt, you look inside and see what other lives need to be lived (or, perhaps, find a way to create a workable, nourishing compromise with the lives within). Huck Finn still lives within in me (even as the door to that particular dream is closed) and when I go on thunderous journeys (as I did recently in Chile), I then get to feel what it’s like to live out of the backpack and be free to light out for the territory.

      Even more, as I’ve unpacked this latter half of my life, I’ve allowed other lives to come forth. This blog, for example, allows the writer to breathe a little (even as I know I’m no longer making my living as a writer).

    • Wavelengths

      Never underestimate the ability of “Life” to hand you a big surprise.

      You never know how or when you might be called on to live one of those “alternate” lives because the path you thought you were on ended in a big “Road Closed” barrier and a “Detour” sign.

      There is grace and wisdom in knowing when to close the door softly. But it may also be that “a mighty wind” will blow that door open again.

      You might be surprised.

  • panterosa,

    If the unlived life has a chance of being lived, it must have a plan. A dreamer’s dream which risks becoming an illusion, will result in a disillusioned and unhappy person. Though written as a war text I find the wisdom of Sun Tzu’s Five Fundamentals of Strategy are always a great place to start when presented with any challenge. I find Sun Tzu so helpful in laying out a structure to apply to your aims. A plan of battle seems an unlikely thing to apply to a dream, but if that dream is so vital, then perhaps that ammunition is just what it will need to be achieved.

    “Therefore calculate a plan with Five Working Fundamentals, and examine the condition of each.
    The first is Tao.
    The second is Nature.
    The third is Situation.
    The fourth is Leadership.
    The fifth is Art.”

    This first page, and the second page of his book are linked here.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=-YTzE8JRfRoC&pg=PA22&lpg=PA22&dq=the+five+fundamentals+of+strategy&source=bl&ots=GuTafXxugv&sig=YLNpA-W2qAbVKE9QTYZtPjp4n8o&hl=en&ei=gud2S9KeJoSulAfZt_yhDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CAwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=the%20five%20fundamentals%20of%20strategy&f=false

    http://books.google.com/books?id=-YTzE8JRfRoC&pg=PA22&lpg=PA22&dq=the+five+fundamentals+of+strategy&source=bl&ots=GuTafXxugv&sig=YLNpA-W2qAbVKE9QTYZtPjp4n8o&hl=en&ei=gud2S9KeJoSulAfZt_yhDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CAwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=the%20five%20fundamentals%20of%20strategy&f=false

    • jerrycolonna

      Agreed panterosa. And I love the notion that the final step is Art. One of the notions that occurred to me as I toyed with this post was the fact that business literature too often fails to detail the underlying creativity embedded in the act of being an entrepreneur.

      • panterosa,

        I was under the impression that The Art of War (or Strategy, depending on your translation) was standard business school reading in the 80’s, and from what I can tell, many of those grads studied little other than business, and still have tunnel vision. It still floors me that the book was written over two thousand years ago.

        Sun Tzu’s idea of Art is the Leadership employing the Tao. It was his feeling that coming to conflict was the failure of that Art, and the sign of not having examined the five fundamentals. Nonetheless, he wrote the Art of War to instruct those on how to win if you had come to conflict. You would need to win by reducing the conflict, annulling it, so aligning the Tao of the “enemy” and yourself that you become one. The enemy’s resources are necessary to you and the position of the enemy is altered through Art to achieve this. Positioning is the underpinning of strategy.

        “The Tao inspires people to share in the same ideals and expectations. Hence because they share in life and share in death the people do not fear danger.”

        I like some of the underlying principles of this (beyond the overarching grooviness of Tao) – the seeing the similarities as a way to build consensus and community, aligning behind a single vision, or by merging two visions to become one by reducing the perception of differences, aligning the vision within the time and situation it is found, seeing your place in the greater scheme of things. Synchronicity.

        I would say the main way I understand Sun Tzu’s Art is as a way of seeing things, perspective, vision, clarity, and also seeing within, seeing into people’s hearts. Isn’t seeing what inspires creativity? And isn’t that what makes an entrepreneur (among others) spring out of bed in the morning? To make things go together in a way they haven’t before. Evolution. Isn’t seeing something in new way really what constitutes an idea?

        Fill the heart of your “enemy”/obstacle with your dream, as it will enrich him and his life. When he sees you believe in him then he will believe in you and he will be yours. Not only must you create, you must be creative in positioning your creation. Synthesize.

  • http://www.3pmobile.com/ Peter Cranstone

    Being an entrepreneur is in your soul. Can you do something else? Yes (I flew for awhile) but it’s never the same. My dream is a simple one – create something from nothing that benefits others. I was fortunate enough to do it once (mod_gzip). Now I’m going for the next one. Ironically it’s taken exactly the same amount of time as mod_gzip took us – 4 years. The core design is now finished and as they say in the business – it JFW’s (Just Fricking Works).

    Of all the startups I’ve done this is by far the hardest – and yet this time I know so much more. But as I look back, the others have been stepping stones to prepare me each time for what is to come next.

    For the entrepreneur who has worked on his system for years, who knows it works but no one will fund it. Some heartfelt advice. If you’ve really solved a big problem then let it go. Funding is nothing more than a milestone – our latest company has no funding in four years – yet we made a commitment to solve a big problem because we thought that it was really important. We found early adopters who paid the bills even before the idea was fully baked. Everyone believed – you’ll know when to give up, because you won’t believe anymore and nor will anyone else. And too me that’s really the standard – the Entrepreneur always believes, it’s in his DNA – but as a Coach once said to me… “Confront reality as it is, not as you want it to be”. He’s right – if your architecture is solid and it solves a problem then others will believe, if not then you’ve failed – and that’s ok. As Thomas Watson used to say – “Double your failure rate, as that’s where you’ll find success”.

    • jerrycolonna

      That was a wise coach. Reminds me the Dalai Lama’s simple definition of happiness: accepting what is.

    • http://www.repeatablesale.com/ Scott Barnett

      I resonate strongly with your comment “create something from nothing that benefits others”. You have to understand what gets your engine running and in an ideal world do what you love. That leads to your other comment – you’ll know when to give up, the fire won’t be there anymore. If the fire is still there, then focus on the end game – what are the moves you need to make to get there? You will always be re-adjusting your moves based on the moves of the “other side”. If you hit a wall, figure out why, back up, and try another direction. But don’t just “throw stuff against the wall” – understand where you’re ultimately trying to get to, and does your next move get you to that end game?

      It also helps to allow yourself time to chuckle. While it has very little to do with entrepreneurship, the new TV show “Men of a Certain Age” is perfect for 40-somethings, and I find myself laughing out loud (pretty rare for me based on a TV show) over life events that people tend to take too seriously. Ray Romano seems to be a master and being able to laugh at life events that don’t seem funny to the average person.

      • jerrycolonna

        I’ve been meaning to catch that show. I’ll definitely check it out now.

      • http://www.3pmobile.com/ Peter Cranstone

        @Jerry – he was a wise coach, I learned a lot. The good news is that I still have lots of learning left in me.

        @Scobar – when I started my current startup I decided to do something a little different. I wrote down what I wanted to achieve, who I wanted to help achieve something, and I also said that this would be my last startup. The last part scared me more than ever. But it came from a lesson I learned on my first startup – I said I would quit when it didn’t work. It didn’t and I quit – so this time around I laid the foundation for my success or failure. There would be no half measure. The goal was simple – sculpt fog until something appeared that would benefit all.

        There would be no investment until it worked, therefore there could be no distraction – if it was really going to work it really had to solve a problem that created value. Before we wrote a line of code we started with a simple idea called “Me”. We spent 5-6 months validating that idea. Consumers wanted one thing – the Enterprise another – our job was to resolve it and align the two. We then started with the end in mind and worked backwards. As Warner Von Braun once said – you can recover from a production flaw but never from a design flaw.

        The design had to be perfect because the audience was “Me” (as in every Me on the planet). 4 years later the design is complete – it’s solid and it works. We’re not done yet, we still have to cross the chasm but a few days I ago I really smiled for the first time – I found an article on the web, they’d written about “Me” – the title of the post was – “Context is the killer location for mobile”. Everyone knows that Context is not an app. So what is this context he’s referring too? Why it’s “Me” of course or in other words, Who Am I, What Am I using and Where Am I.

        With that “Context” in hand the web that you currently know becomes the web that knows you (Me). And suddenly my dream got a little closer, because now there’s an “app for that”.

        • Wavelengths

          “Sculpt fog.”

          I’d steal that, but I’m not that kind of person.

          Yes, that’s the essence of taking the creative vision into manifestation.

          • http://www.3pmobile.com/ Peter Cranstone

            I borrowed it.

  • M Capossela

    Jerry-I appreciate the time taken to write this great blog. Although aimed at entrepreneurship, it is heartwarming to find an educated blog about business and emotions. The only thing I dare add is that, to me, success is more about working towards one’s own happiness (i.e. something that you believe in) whether or not it bears fruit in your lifetime. Not to sound simple (I am aware of the realities of funding your dream), but when the time comes to cash in your chips, you’ll have no regrets. And you never know, you may achieve greatness posthumously: Bach was appreciated much more 75 years later, thanks to Mendelssohn.

    • jerrycolonna

      It’s really wonderful, M Capossela, to be understood so well. I am trying hard to knit together the heart and the head, the inner and the outer, the left and right sides of the brains. A quixotic task, no doubt, but I don’t really have a choice. My language is the language of integration.

      • Wavelengths

        The heart is also a neural network. And so is “the gut.” Not all of our “thinking” happens in our heads. For most of us, the mind hasn’t yet learned the humility necessary to receive that input from the heart and the gut.

        I believe that true wisdom comes from this integration.

        • jerrycolonna

          One of my teachers says that the Chinese call the stomach, the gut, the second brain. I feel that’s true…in my gut. So much thinking, so much knowing, happens in the subtle body…the not-so-conscious body. The evidence for this overwhelming yet it remains a non-intuitive notion in our society.
          You’re somehow freaky weird new agey if you refer to the felt sense yet, when you ask people where their anxiety is in their body, for example, they can always tell you.

          • http://www.thelancasterfoodco.com Charlie Crystle

            gut is informed intuition.

        • http://www.fill-your-cup.com/ julie_poplawski

          This is so well said. Much of human pain could be avoided with greater attention to the balance between mind and body.

  • Wavelengths

    Again, you are on target. I feel the poignant wisdom in your words.

    I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:11, “when I became a man I put away childish things.”

    Yet, the creative soul, the heartfelt entrepreneur, is in a struggle to know whether the dream is a “childish thing,” or the true “soul purpose” of this person’s existence in this life.

    At least we should give ourselves permission to close that door gently, when the time is right.

    • jerrycolonna

      Right. And I think Johnson/Ruhl’s point…a reformulation of Jung…is that in closing that door gently, you get to recognize that there are still other lives waiting to be lived. This morning, after training in the gym, I framed some new prints I’d made from photos of my trip to Chile. As I was doing so, and admiring my work (see jerrycolonna.smugmug.com), I realized that that is yet another life I get to live…even if no one else likes or admires my photographs, I do. I get great pleasure from them. Owning that is liberating.

      • panterosa,

        Liberating pleasure, it sound almost as if you gave a gift to yourself and you were touched by the generosity of it.

        The pictures you took and framed not only assert that self who ventured out but also assert what you find beautiful, which you traveled far to see. There is a sensual connection with what you saw when you were living that life. You spoke of the subtle body earlier and I feel strongly that our visual connection to pleasure and beauty is in danger of being overridden or replaced by generic ad/media images. Our individual visual desires are constantly at risk of being told what to like, rather than being allowed to develop, and connect the inner self to the eyes, our individual eyes. Hang more pictures and please your eyes, and through your eyes, your soul.

        • jerrycolonna

          You know me well. You’re absolutely right. When I take my thunderous journeys (some day I’ll write about my fall into a crevasse in Greenland in 50 below zero weather and howling winds), that sensual, visceral connection to the earth, to the land, to peoples who are not enmeshed in this world reframes my life, reconnects my deeper inner self. When I surround myself with my photos, as I do in my two offices, it not only pleases me, it re-feeds me.

  • http://www.fill-your-cup.com/ julie_poplawski

    No-o-o-o, I’m 38 and just not there yet. I gave up running marathons to passionatly study Pilates (which healed the damage from running distance while pregnant.) How about we don’t close the doors just walk through new ones with better information?! I dont want to backpack through Europe again, espically after staying in a boutique luxry hotel. I can give up living on a Kibbutz unless I take all my kids and we go for the summer.

    I am still getting used to walking partway into the fire and saving some reserves for a balanced life. Tell me there’s not a release of a dream. It’s just a change in direction, right? Our dreams get a new flavor, like some age on the wine. Deeper, smoother, and decanted just in time.

    • jerrycolonna

      Hey Julie…for me, that’s right…it’s not been a release of the dream(s)…more like, I cut deals with the aspects of me who dream. Recognizing that Huck Lives within me, I allow him a little room, I make sure he doesn’t have to wear fancy suits to go to church, and all. And every now and then I get to take thunderous journeys. Doing so, also feeds that correspondent because, for a few days, I wander with the backpack in foreign lands.

      As I’ve cut these deals, I’ve found the other lives that need to be lived. I’ve taught at a local college, I write, I dance. I do things that feed these other aspects and as I do the insistent voices of the dreams get a little calmer.

      • http://www.fill-your-cup.com/ julie_poplawski

        There are endless opportunities/doors yet to open. My dad used always encourage me to keep options open. (In college I was undecided/undeclared ’till senior year.)

        In time I had to chose where and when to focus my energy – limiting the options. (I couldn’t marry all the boys, or be both “marry poppins mommy” and a superstar at work at least not all in THIS hour.) I’m looking at your message thinking maybe in 7-8 years my options will open up a bit more again. There are so many lives to live, and great choices to make. Trick is to decide which ones best “fill your cup” ;) at least this time around.

  • moorehernandez

    Powerful. Your posting arrived shortly after my husband and I have learned to embrace a failed venture in Africa and made the decision to return home to the US. And yet, somehow, I am more at peace than ever.

    Here is what I posted today after reading your blog:
    At 42, I’m ready to close the door on some vague ideas of my youth. I probably won’t do foreign development work in a third-world country. I may not even do week-long meditation retreats or travel the world for more than a month at a time – at least not until my little loves are grown men. But I will be a loving, …thoughtful, socially conscious mother. I will make a difference for children of this world beyond my own (and adults too!). I will be a true friend – the kind that loves you for who you are and helps you move beyond the places where you are stuck. And most importantly I will remind my husband in so many ways how blessed I am to be able to spend my life with a man like him. And all of these things will be the fabric of my life.

    • jerrycolonna

      Beautiful stories and insights. Thanks for sharing them. Again, I don’t think we ever have to give up entirely on the dreams. And, in fact, I’d argued that one can’t. But cutting deals, finding ways to live those lives, taking the value from the failed African venture, and integrating that…I suspect there’s a workable answer within that.

    • http://www.fill-your-cup.com/ julie_poplawski

      a beautiful fabric!

  • http://www.thelancasterfoodco.com Charlie Crystle

    Tough to even comment on this.

    About 2 years ago I went through what I thought was a post-entrepeneurial period. I wanted to know what my life’s work was. Software? Really? Depressing thought.

    And then I left the company over a year later, and started thinking about what my life’s work has been, and could be. I was all over the place, and enjoying it. Wrote half a book about surviving startups.

    And then I started a new software company. And stopped thinking about what my life’s work is or should be.

    I’ve either embraced my nature or have deferred the big question.

    • http://www.tereza.com/ Tereza

      Well, Charlie, on Fred’s blog a week or two ago you gave me a very convincing description of how you are wired to be an entrepreneur. The risk, the whole package.

      It felt to me like you’re genuine, not just going through the motions…

      • http://www.thelancasterfoodco.com Charlie Crystle

        thanks. i’m a genuine entrepreneur, but merging that with meaning has been important to me for some time. Mission Research was one attempt at it, and while it succeeded, staying there made me unhappy. Starting new companies isn’t necessarily the answer, and working in nonprofits definitely isn’t.

        but starting companies is what I know, and I believe that business can be a vehicle for our highest aspirations.

  • panterosa,

    Don’t your dreams become more poignant when as a parent and revisit those years when you had the dreams which are now at risk? The ages your child is today striking chords with the self you were then becoming which now fears not becoming? How do you share your wisdom and nourish their dreams without your past experience guiding them inappropriately.

    The man walking into the kiln image has sat uncomfortably with me since it was posted. Perhaps I have seen too much Harry Potter recently, but I have just realized how I see walking into the fire – as a phoenix, and rising again from the ashes. I see the fire as a place to be reborn and the tough question is more about being ready to be the new phoenix. The fire is simply the vehicle.

    I am close to that fire now, so I am thinking a fair amount about it. It is helpful to hear other’s opinions of it.

    • jerrycolonna

      I think part of the reason David Whyte’s retelling of the old Chinese story of the potter and the kiln is so powerful is precisely because it’s so evocative, compelling, and–in the end–unclear as to whether it’s a “good” thing. In my own, after gone through three dramatic career shifts, I can see that each shift was proceeded by a fiery embrace of what was true for me. I’ve felt for a long time that one of our greatest fears wasn’t death (or consumption by the fire in the kiln) but annihilation…a ceasing to have existed.
      I don’t know if the potter actually died in the kiln (the glaze, after all, was exquisite) but I do know that everything had changed afterwards.

      • http://auntmimisbookclub.com/ Emily Merkle

         Everything had changed, indeed. Well put.

    • Wavelengths

      Or, having been incinerated, how do you find the courage to reassemble yourself as the phoenix?

      And, I don’t know that we necessarily choose the fire. I believe it can “choose” us. Or is it one of those “unlived lives” asserting itself, coming forward, insisting that the space be cleared so that we can emerge into that life that we might never have willingly chosen, if more comfortable options remained.

      Different metaphor, but I often think of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on the brink of the cliff with the posse behind them. What choice did they have? Other than to jump . . .

      • panterosa,

        I am sure there are many permutations of choosing the fire or it choosing you depending upon one’s perspective, though I tend to think of it as an inevitable crossroad of destiny and it is one’s decision which path to take. We are the sum of our choices. We don’t always choose to walk into the fire, depending on the amount of fire we are in at that moment, or how much fire we need at that point in our lives.

        Regarding the phoenix and courage to reassemble oneself, I believe that you choose to walk the fire and to be reborn when you know the time has come, when you are ready, even if it comes by surprise. Underlying readiness perhaps replaces part of the courage needed and fuels the willingness to risk, and the willingness to grow.

  • http://ryangraves.org Ryan Graves

    If she absolutely loves her idea, she needs to morph it into something someone will fund, then morph it back towards her ideas with the funding.

    Easier said than done but that’s the path.

    • jerrycolonna

      Should she? really? I’m not so sure about that. Fred Wilson tells a story…more wisdom from one of old partners at Euclid. (Notice old partners get wiser when we’re no longer their partners. ;) )
      His partner tells a story of a company who couldn’t get funding because, try as they might, they couldn’t get the business model to generate $50 million in revenue in five years (which was the threshold the VC has set to funding). No matter what he did, the model showed $35 million in five years. Then, he had a brainstorm and figured out how to fix the model. He got the funding.
      Five years passed, anticipating that $50 million in revenue. In the fifth year, guess what they did? $35 million in revenue.
      The point is, shifting and then shifting to get funding seems silly. Shifting and shifting (and shifting again) because the market shifts seems to be the only sensible thing to do.

      • http://ryangraves.org Ryan Graves

        The term ‘shift’ implies that she’s just moving the same thing to appear fundable, by said VC’s standards. I was thinking that if said entrepreneur wanted to make her baby (her dream) a reality she’d have to ‘morph’ the idea, implying it does actually change, thus potentially changing projected revenues, market, etc.

        I’m a noob to this but the way I see it is that there needs to be some flexibility on the side of the entrepreneur if they do want to get to that next level. Whether it be funding, first employee, biz dev partnership, whatever…you’re never going to get exactly what you want on YOUR terms. Somethings usually gotta give.

  • http://www.thelancasterfoodco.com Charlie Crystle

    dear jerry,

    blog more.

    love, charlie

    • jerrycolonna

      Will do. Working on a post now.

  • http://1id.com/contact/=nigel Nigel

    This is a great post, not only about entrepreneurship but about how we pursue our dreams and what life “should be”. I just came across it as I caught up on reading Fred’s blog, and will definitely add your feed to my reader. Coincidentally you posted it on my birthday!

    My more complete reaction is here http://www.nigelbeck.com/Birthdays-and-Crossing-the-bar.html. I, for one, hope it will never be too late and “time to put aside childish things”, but that we can instead add our maturity to the creativity and delight that the eyes of a child perceive in all things.

  • http://twitter.com/stevenstein Steven Stein

    Great post and great blog. It is a pleasure to find content that
    resonates and is relavent to my life. Being a serial entrepreneur
    “that sirens call” to innovate, contribute, create something from
    nothing continues to call me.

    With so many ideas and so little time- at 50 I may never bring the
    rock opera I wrote and produced in college to broadway but maybe some day…

    More than ever i am forced to prioritize, be deliberate. And while
    shooting for the stars I’m constantly remined of the George Leonard
    quote to “love the plateau” . enjoy the ride, be the Change, be here now etc,etc

    It may not be easy to “create” but it can surely be rewarding. Even if
    just for the act and process of creating itself,

  • http://www.tereza.com/ Tereza

    Jerry, beautiful post. I read it a few days ago and can’t let it pass by without throwing my thoughts into the ring, even if belatedly.

    I am consumed by a need to create. I suppressed it for a long time. This summer, I turn 40 too. This need to create is not quietly percolating. It’s a “get the hell out of my way” feeling, like the Kraken has been unleashed.

    Here’s how almost-40 feels to me. I had a really early entrepreneurial success, a period of my life which was extremely happy and aligned with my passions. So I’ve had a taste of that and yearn to do it again. The next 15 years were chock full of “supposed to’s”. Getting the MBA. Working for the big consulting firm. Paying off a mountain of debt. Getting married, having kids. Caring for and burying sick parents. Volunteer work. Suddenly, gradually, I became a suburban mom.

    But I don’t feel like one.

    Then last year, someone offered me a test. Like Meyers-Briggs on steroids, including capability assessments. It told me that I’m an off-the-charts entrepreneurial person. That I see things others don’t see, and can persuade people to get on board. She said I have no tolerance for working for stupid people, and would need a strong #2 quickly, to “pick up the pieces”. She couldn’t believe I lasted in consulting for so many years.

    I don’t live with regrets. I love my husband and my girls deeply. Yet life is short and I’m not ready to close the door on my passion. On the contrary, I need to tap it and see where it take me.

    What can I say, I want it all. Is that so wrong?? :-)

    • jerrycolonna

      Thanks Tereza…of course you’re not wrong. But having it all (at the same no less)—well that sounds like a pretty daunting task…or, even more, maybe even a distracting pursuit.
      Perhaps one way to approach this, and this is a managled interpretation of what Robert Johnson suggests, is to recognize the various lives within you (lived and unlived) and–in effect–cut deals between them.
      I love Suburban Dad within me but I’m even more comfortably with Suburban Dad knowing that as my kids grow–and my youngest turns 13 this June–their need for me to live out that life will lessen (as will my need) and these other characters in the orchestra of my mind can step forward a little more assertively.

      “Supposed to”‘s and “shoulds”–especially those externally generated and then internalize–can be painful, tragic tools. If you were a client, I’d suggest spending some time with those “shoulds” and see whether or not they’re yours or aspects of your inheritance.

      • http://www.tereza.com/ Tereza

        I spent a lot of time on shoulds but they’re gone now.

        I think my definition of “all” is more measured than it may have
        sounded. It can never be all things at one time. We’re human and not
        perfect and that’s a good thing. I just really want to nurture some
        positive inclinations which haven’t seen enough action (these include
        my children).

        And this 40 thingy is a partial trigger of that.

        • jerrycolonna

          We are indeed all human. On the whole, I’d have to say, I’ve loved my 40s.

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