I recently read a mind blowing article about Voyager I, the 35 year-old space probe that is on the cusp of becoming the first man-made object to exit the solar system.
The irony of this event, as the article points out, is that we cannot tell exactly when voyager has reached interstellar space, because, well, nothing has ever been there before. There is no historical event that would help prove it has crossed the outer boundary of our solar system because we really don’t know where that line exists.
Being an entrepreneur is facscinating because we are all a little like Voyager I, in that we operate in the outer boundaries of our own reality. We are constantly inventing new and better ways to work, to live, to interact. In effect, we are our own Makers– expanding and redefining reality for ourselves and those around us.
What differentiates entrepreneurs from Voyager I is that Voyager I is simply along for the ride. It is a passive observer of space over time. Alternatively, entrepreneurs are directly responsible for defining our own new realities as we move ever forward; shaping each new device and application in our own conceived image of the future.
Entrepreneurs who consistently define new trends are occasionally referred to as “prophets” or “visionaries”. But many other visionaries are regarded as delusional until their theory, product or service has acheieved mass adoption.
Perhaps a prerequisite of becoming a successful entpreneur is having the courage to be an outcast, a heretic, a deluded, crazy person. Go against the grain. Dream of a bigger, better world. Then go out and create it, even if everyone thinks you’re crazy.
I’ll leave you with my favorite passage from Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs:
Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.