Do We Work in a Startup Because We Want a Life Without Limits?
When I was very young, I wanted to live a predictable life. Growing up quite poor with a father that was never around because he was saving the world from bad guys, gave me a deep need to live a stable life surrounded by people and things I knew I could count on. Little did I know that my adventures would be anything but.
Startups are not predictable. They are vibrant, moving fast and completely fluid. I think the reason I have never really stayed around for long after I sold any of companies was because when something becomes predictable, I lose interest. The creation, the stress, the fluidity and more importantly the limitless environment is what I love about working. Being predictable is much different than being consistent. I think consistency is being with the same person for years but doing things without limits. I have been so very fortunate to experience both.
Limits are something I have never been able to deal with. I remember when I was first venturing into startup world that a board member once told me I needed to make sure I “stayed within the limits of the company mission.” That struck me as odd because when you stay within limits, there is nothing you can do to change the world. I often wondered how people could stay within limits and still expect to grow, be exposed to new things and enrich themselves and the startup they work at. They just don’t go hand in hand.
I had the luxury of escaping the grind and hustle of work for a couple days recently and realized I cannot live within limits. What I love about what I do is the idea, that on any given day, I can change the life of one person or one million people. On any given day, I can push my life in a new direction. On any given day, I can help one of my employees do things they never thought they could achieve and I have the option to expose myself and others to experiences they never thought possible. It fuels me to think I can make people around me feel amazing by believing in them.
Limits kill me. As I look around at the people in my life, I realize that the ones I get along with best, foster this in me. They are supportive of the fact that creativity comes from zero limits. I deliberately harvest an energy in every room I enter to live by this notion too. An energy that makes people feel lighter. An energy that makes people feel calm and able to tackle the issues in their life. Given limitless energy to those around me is the thing I get the most pleasure from these days. I love looking into someone’s eyes as they begin to relax and realize that life is really a fun thing to experience and anything is possible if you just take a leap and trust yourself.
I start multiple companies because I know no limits. I know how to avoid failure, not because everything is a success for me, but because everything is never “finished”. I have the utmost faith in myself to not place limits on anything I do and on those rare occasions when I do and I look to others for faith, it invariably never materializes. I think a limitless attitude in myself and others must come from within. There has only been one truly reliable person in my life to foster a life without limits, so I know it’s rare.
Creation is key in life. You just know when things that you create are right. Whether it’s a personal relationship that just feel perfect, hiring employees and fellow executives that just “get it” or creating a product or service that really serves a purpose is not simply a solution seeking a problem. It needs to be creative. It needs to be different.
What I think is important to know in life is to understand what makes us happy. I am still figuring this out, however I have a clear idea of what I cannot tolerate. As an executive, we all have things that occur during the day that make us a little crazy and other things that make us happy. I need to make sure those things do not impact those around me too much either way because people look to me to lead them in the right direction. Leadership is more about consistency and that comes from managing your own emotions. I used to be quite bad at it and my lack of discipline had a direct impact on the success of my business. I have learned to be a lot better and now find that having a limitless policy within a consistent culture works best. It may sound counterintuitive, however when you really think about it, it works. My people know they can think of, examine, implement and “try” almost anything without limits within the consistent mantra we drive our business. It has created some of the best ideas, the best memories and the best products we could have imagined.
Employees, especially the younger ones have a limit mindset, in that they feel that working within the limits of their role is the best way to achieve the greatest results. They don’t realize that to imagine any outcome starts to make it a reality and that to be afraid of what may go wrong actually brings about that negative outcome. I see a lot of negative bias in people these days and try to counteract it, however it is sometimes so embedded in people by their own inability to envision a limitless life, they remain in a life that is full of limits. My job is to make sure that people know they can break things, know they can try things and of course be wrong.
I could never tolerate limits in any aspect of life and you shouldn’t either. Limits hide things, limits make for easy excuses and limits stagnate the mind and the potential creativity. When you live a limitless life, nothing possible can be hidden, all possibilities are on the table and it is exciting as hell!
This is my last blog as I am focusing on removing one very big limit in my life and writing a book. I also have Billaway to run, which for me is the greatest job in the world. It feels so amazing to lead great people, help millions of consumers save tens of millions of dollars a year and live a truly limitless life with someone I love. I am blessed!