I wasn’t ready to say this a month ago, but now I’ll take the leap. Evidence is mounting that entrepreneurship is going to survive – and even thrive in the wake of the pandemic. Here’s why. Aside from frustration and boredom, our recent confinement has ignited some powerful forces, including the Law of Contrast. That’s the natural tendency we all have to compare opposites. Right, left. Fast, slow. This natural inclination is highly effective and motivating.
After several months as captives working from home, or furloughed and sitting at home, there’s a strong growing desire for the opposite – new experiences and freedom. And, of course, we’ve had some time to think about what we’d really like to be doing. This creates fertile ground for growing the entrepreneurial spirit.
There are a couple of other mindset shifts coming into play as well. Let’s talk about two of them: the joy of entelechy and ‘Jakos to bedzie’
The first one, entelechy, is the ability to make actual what is otherwise merely potential. For those of you that study or enjoy philosophy, it’s closely connected with Aristotle’s distinction between matter and form, or the potential and the actual. I’ve thought about it for years as the alchemy of entrepreneurship. When I started my ventures, the single most gratifying feeling came from taking what I was picturing in my head and bringing it to life – everything from developing brand, to gaining customers, to fine-tuning the product, to building the team. I was creating something that previously did not exist. Going back to our Law of Contrast, sitting at home feeling stymied is unleashing a strong desire to create and make things happen.
But what about the uncertainty and fear that often hold us back? We are in, after all, very uncertain times. That’s where I bring in my grandma’s Polish phrase ‘Jakos to bedzie’ (pronounced ‘Ya-kosh toe ben-jay’). It’s a philosophy perfectly suited to today’s world. Literally, the phrase means ‘things will work out in the end’ – but it goes beyond that. Rather than sitting around worrying and hoping things will work out, 'Jakos to bedzie' is acting without worrying about the consequences. It’s knowing you can’t predict the future – or control the unknowns – but you can still forge ahead. It’s about taking action, risks and all, and not being afraid. It’s about building the bridge as you walk on it – confident that you’ll eventually have what you need to get you to the other side. It’s believing the light at the end of the tunnel is not a speeding train coming toward you.
It’s the perfect mindset for today’s tough and unprecedented times. We can’t predict the future or the twists and turns of the coronavirus saga. So, whether the recovery is going to be U-shaped, V-shaped, or not shaped like any letter at all, go ahead and muster your entrepreneurial spirit and take this time to explore new opportunities, experience the joy of creating, and build your bridge one step at a time.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie
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