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Defining Entrepreneur

I’ve always thought of myself as an entrepreneur.   As a result, when I was young that word carried a lot of meaning for me.  It was part of my identity, a beacon in the fog of youthful self-exploration.

When I got around to reading the definition of the word, “risk taker”, that didn’t seem to fit.

In my mind, I’ve never been a risk-seeking person.  Skydiving and playing chicken have never been my bag.  And, when I set out to start a project, I’m never doing it to take on more risk.  I always started my ventures to fill a gap in a market, to fix something that was broken or to make the world better.  I’m motivated by the positive impact of change, not the down side of failure.

About a year ago my wife came back from a conference on careers and shared a new definition:  “opportunity obsessed.”  Now THAT resonated.  That’s what I am…who I am.  And, I’ve found it to be the definition that rattles the souls of other born entrepreneurs.  When they hear it they know they’ve been understood…finally.

Having a definition for our state of mind is helpful.  Not only does it give us solace in knowing that we can be defined, but also it highlights our weakness.  Opportunities, whether financial or otherwise, motivate us.  Understanding that can help us avoid the pitfalls of the obsession.  Chasing visions that might never be, at the cost of capital, relationships and time, is dangerous…and it’s trap in which many of us fall victim.  Simply being aware of your obsession may help you take a more measured approach to addressing the opportunities that you see.

Unfortunately, while I don’t know how to manage the obsession, I now know how to define it.  And I’m pretty sure that the person who wrote the old definition of entrepreneur, wasn’t one.

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