100% life from concentrate
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“Rather die enormous than
live dormant…that’s how
we on it…” boasts modern-
day philosopher Shawn
Carter (better known as entertainment mogul Jay-Z)
on his 1996 classic
“Can I Live”.
While it would be easy to dismiss this statement as
the same superficial treatment of riches, excess, and gangster bravado that one has come
to expect from today’s rap
music, we need to look
Rather, the protagonist wants us to know that his big risks were worth it no matter the outcome. Whether he succeeded, failed, or even died trying, the risks allowed him a precious CHANCE to achieve his dreams rather than accepting stagnation.
While I am no advocate of criminal activity or premature death, I strongly agree with the concept of striving for greatness…and along with it, embracing the possibility of failure. What is the point of treading water? I’d rather die enormous.
During my first year in the Wharton MBA program, I took an Entrepreneurship course in which we frequently had guest speakers talk to the class about their entrepreneurial career path. During one such presentation, a gentleman (whose name currently escapes me) talked through a PowerPoint slide I will never forget. The slide listed all 18 of his failed companies from all sorts of arenas, running the gamut from practical, to nonsensical, to before their time. The only common thread tying these companies together was their status as failures that had failed absolutely. After walking us through the failures in sufficient detail, exposing all the hidden warts and hilarious anecdotes, he moved on to discuss his next two companies, which sold for $750 million and $200 million respectively. I think you smell what I’m cooking here.
I don’t want to belabor the point, but then again, I really do. However, I am now tired of writing AND as the late, great Steve Jobs would tell you, “Great Artists STEAL” :-). So rather than original thought, I am going to share the thoughts of some pretty smart people who I find compelling on this issue…pretty much a barrage of good ideas:
– An inspiring TED Talk on “Why you will fail to have a great career”:
– An insightful HBR blog which asks us to consider the true risk of entrepreneurship (I am almost convinced that taking no risk may be the riskiest move of all): Just How Risky is Entrepreneurship, Really? – Harvard Business Review
– Michael Jordan’s classic commercial on failure:
While Jordan is widely known as one of the greatest & most successful to play the game of basketball, he has certainly failed on more than one occasion. Rather than downplaying these failures, he cites them as being responsible for his ability to succeed.
Just for kicks, and because I like to disobey the rules of writing, I would like to pause here to quote my mother…who often likes to quote her mother in asking the classic Yoruba parenting question “so that man…does he have two heads?” as a way of pointing out that one is just as equipped as any other human being to achieve any great success. It turns out he (or she) actually does not have two heads…but still managed to make it happen.
500 years later the message still applies. Aim for the stars and do not fear failure…embrace him as a wise, gray-bearded teacher. Dream big. Take action. Experience. Fail. Learn. See the world through a positive lens. Ask questions. Persevere.
Maybe you are already chasing or living your dreams, in which case I applaud you. If not, I think you should consider doing so. We are only here for a limited time.
Why choose dormant when you can achieve 100% life?
Just my thoughts ladies & gentlemen…right or wrong, it’s what I was thinking at the time! 🙂
A gentle blend of Brooklyn, New York (via birth) & Lagos, Nigeria (via family), Muoyo Okome is a technologist, entrepreneur, “hacker”, and lover of life. He holds a BSE from Princeton University, an MBA from the Wharton School, a sense of humor from his family, and a strong desire to make it happen.
click here for more 100% life.
Well done my friend…Chapeau!
Great piece! Thanks for sharing – and thanks to your mom for sharing as well! This is something I have been trying to live by for the past 15 years…one reason why I want to go back and get another degree (your mom was my masters thesis advisor), but I have this spirit led to desire for more, to achieve more – perhaps, not monetarily or in recognition of my name, but just so if anyting, I can be all that God wants me to be. God is leading my steps! Blessings Muoyo! Peace
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