Seth Godin runs one of the most highly trafficked blogs on the internet. Today he offers a reflection for entrepreneurs (h/t David Murray), but I think it applies for anyone who has a dream. There is a difference, he says, between entrepreneurial hope – the kind of hope that will work through the long slog to build a company or realize a dream step by tiny step – and the hope of the magical lottery ticket, landing the big fish that will suddenly transform your business into an overnight success (think: getting on Oprah’s book club, or landing that famous agent, or getting that whale investor, etc). This is relevant to ministers, to people who feel called to pursue a dream for/with God, and to everyone else too.
I quote liberally:
“Starbucks didn’t become Starbucks by getting discovered by Oprah Winfrey or being blessed by Warren Buffet when they only had a few stores. No, they plugged along. They raised bits of money here and there, flirted with disaster, added one store and then another, tweaked and measured and improved and repeated. Day by day, they dripped their way to success. No magic lottery.
What chance is there that Mark Cuban or Carlos Slim is going to agree to be your mentor, to open all doors and give you a shortcut to the top? Better, I think, to avoid wasting a moment of your time hoping for a fairy godmother. You’re in a hurry and this is a dead end.
When someone encourages you to avoid the magic lottery, they’re not criticizing your idea nor are they trying to shatter your faith or take away your hope. Instead, they’re pointing out that shortcuts are rarely dependable (or particularly short) and that instead, perhaps, you should follow the longer, more deliberate, less magical path if you truly want to succeed.
If your business or your music or your art or your project is truly worth your energy and your passion, then don’t sell it short by putting its future into a lottery ticket.
Here’s another way to think about it: delight the audience you already have, amaze the customers you can already reach, dazzle the small investors who already trust you enough to listen to you. Take the permission you have and work your way up. Leaps look good in the movies, but in fact, success is mostly about finding a path and walking it one step at a time.”
If you believe in your dream, believe in it enough to walk it out day by day. Believe in it too much to put it up to chance. Don’t let it perish because you weren’t willing to put in the work.