The Unspoken Secret That Makes Entrepreneurs

Let me illustrate this with a little story…
Let me illustrate this with a little story… Pexels

This article originally appeared on Quora: What is the best way to mentally prepare to become an entrepreneur?

Let me illustrate this with a little story…Imagine, you’re standing on the back of a large rented moving van. You’ve been helping move some items, and you are nearly done for the day. You’re all alone, it’s late at night, and it’s raining.

The next thing you know, you’re wet, laying face down on the pavement, bleeding from your hands and head. You can’t move the fingers on your right hand. Everything hurts. You see pieces of your glasses a few feet away but can’t seem to figure out what to do with them.

Do you:

a) keep laying there, hoping either someone finds you and helps you or drives over you and puts you out of your misery

b) find your phone and call 911 for emergency services

c) find your phone and call your spouse/partner/bff/someone-anyone to come help you

d) get up, collect yourself, put on a glove so as not to bleed on the stuff you’re unloading, finish unloading the truck and drive it to the return depot before going home to clean yourself up and see how bad things really are

So, what do YOU do?

This isn’t hypothetical; this is exactly where I was Wednesday night. Minor concussion, two sprained wrists (one really bad, one so-so), various other cuts, abrasions and contusions. I got up, did what I needed to do, then worried about myself. Because that’s what I needed to do. It was a “whatever it takes” moment.

If you answered anything other than “D”, you’re not ready to be an entrepreneur, because that’s what life is like every minute of every day. You can’t wait and hope things get better, you can’t call the authorities for help, you can’t even call on those closest to you, because they can’t do what needs to be done. It’s up to you. And only you.

Even on the really good days, there’s the lurking promise of immediate disaster should things go wrong. Even after you’ve “made it” in the eyes of others, you know that at any moment, you may be required to literally do “whatever it takes” to face another day as a going concern – that unexpected second mortgage to cover payroll because something unexpectedly froze your bank account, missing a special family occasion to talk a key customer off the ledge, taking zero salary – again – because you really, really need that dough to hire a rock star demand gen guru. It’s just a day in the life.

I do not know what creates that. I’ve pondered this with various entrepreneur friends (one of whom tried to make a go of a business teaching this stuff) and the consensus is the same: we don’t know where it comes from, but we can spot it a mile away. Or the lack thereof.

I don’t think this is something that can be learned, late in life, despite what Tony Robbins and his peers might tell you. I honestly believe it comes from something in your childhood, a time in which you learned that you have resources and capabilities that others never seem to notice nor call upon.

There are many paths to this realization, some tragic, some incredibly uplifting, but the net result is the same: you realize that you can do whatever it takes, when you need to do so. And then, one day, you have some burning thing that you “need to do”, some calling that won’t let you rest until you’re doing it, and the fire causes you to engage others and set them ablaze and the next thing you know you’ve started something

Because that was what you had to do.

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Stan Hanks is the CTO of Columbia Ventures Corp and a Quora contributor. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. The Unspoken Secret That Makes Entrepreneurs