I am currently living one of my lifelong dreams of traveling Italy for a month, enjoying every second of it as we progress through the third week. An interesting fact about the Italian people: Many believe America is the dreamland for entrepreneurs because success is more achievable and straightforward. I don't know what it's like to operate a business in Italy, but taxes are extraordinarily high at 59.1% of profit. According to this article, Italy ranks 58th for overall ease of doing business and 98th for starting a business out of 190 economies. So, a part of me understands the common Italian perception that the United States is an entrepreneurial haven. But as they say,
The details are in the devil.
This old idiom alludes that something may seem simple, but in fact the details are complicated and likely to cause problems. For business owners in Italy, the details are most definitely complex, but some may find disappointment should they choose to come to the US to live out the American Dream. One of the reasons I feel that's true is that Italians, like most, believe that success is hard and you must struggle your way through it alone.
Entrepreneurial Success is Hard.
As a coach, I've learned that the familiar refrain, “Success is hard,” is a shared belief system among entrepreneurs, and we certainly experience hard times. The path to success isn't always easy, but it doesn't have to be a living hell either.
During our stay in Verona, Italy, we toured Dante's Inferno. We had an excellent guide who shared the lore of Dante's grueling travels through hell and purgatory to find his way to Heaven. The young guide told us that one of the greatest sins for those destined for hell is the refusal to ask for help. It's pride, he told us, and it's a lack of desire to achieve something meaningful. “Strong, positive desires point us toward heaven,” he said.
That said, Dante's great need and desire to find his one true love, Beatrice, kept him strong and determined enough to climb the treacherous path from hell and graduate through the levels of purgatory to the Garden of Eden, and Beatrice, in Heaven.
Being an Entrepreneur Should Not Feel Lonely.
As a coach of twenty years, I have learned that the entrepreneur who attempts to travel alone on their path to success experiences more hard times than those who are wise enough to look to coaches and mentors for help along the way. Business owners who finally come to me for help have often reached the point where owning a business truly feels like a living hell.
This article is not intended to be a lesson in religion but to translate these religious beliefs into a powerful metaphor for the human journey, most certainly the entrepreneurial journey.
Trusting Others is a Healthier Choice Than Doing Everything Yourself.
One of the greatest challenges entrepreneurs face in growth stage is to trust. Trust the guidance of an experienced mentor or coach, trust employees to take over parts of the operation, and trust themselves to find the success they seek. Dante, I thought, was like an entrepreneur practicing free will and learning about the power of choice. The tormented Italian poet could ask for help, assist others in the journey, and remain determined to reach his destination. The alternative choices would be to travel alone, unaided by fellow travelers, unwilling to lend a helping hand, and possibly give up the journey altogether or fail. Either way, each choice has its consequences, some desirable, some not so much.
We are here on earth to learn and grow; there's no denying that. Every missed opportunity and denial of support caused by stubbornness and refusal to change keep us in our metaphorical hell or purgatory. When entrepreneurs feel stuck and don't seek help, they deny the human right to choose freedom from these punitive environments and experiences. It's first important to acknowledge that you don't know everything you need to know to reach your intended destination. It's imperative to understand that asking for help does not make us weak or less than. With a strong desire to achieve, virtually everything is possible unless we attempt to do it alone.
Sometimes, Being Alone is a Selfish Choice.
As entrepreneurs struggle with daily challenges and financial woes, the act of going it alone could be misconstrued as a selfish one. Why? Because we then deny yet another human right to achieve our desires. And, because it's not only you who suffers. Think of those around you, people who care for you, and what they must be going through as they watch you suffer. Ask yourself, “How are the people I love affected by my current position?” Also, think of the people who want to help. Consider not only those close to you but coaches like me. There is no greater joy and privilege than working with a client who is open to receiving help, eager to succeed, and willing to change. Watching entrepreneurs journey to their idea of Heaven is one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. It's the same for your family and friends who want to witness you living your dream.
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You get to choose!
Is it time to exercise your freedom to choose? Because, yes, it is possible to choose success over failure. Through my experience of owning businesses, living life as I choose, and witnessing countless entrepreneurs decide to open their minds to change, I will tell you that you don't have to struggle and suffer. If your business model is truly viable, yet success alludes you, it only means that you are missing the answers that lie within you. It takes an outside perspective to help you find those answers and open the path to learning and growing.
Dante eventually landed in Heaven with his beloved Beatrice because he had a dream and allowed his fellow travelers to support him. He chose to aid others as he could and believed in the group's ability to reach Heaven, despite the temptations of crippling whispers from the devil. We all hear those whispers. Perhaps not from the devil, but the whispers of our inner critic that tell us to stop, give up, and deny our strengths, gifts, and talents. Don't listen to that voice, no matter how loud and ugly it gets. Instead, learn how to silence the damaging soundtracks, seek assistance in your growth journey, and believe in your ability to get there!