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Archive for the “Ennui” Category

I don’t think I’ve been bored a single day since I started my firm in 1996.  Not a day.  Not an hour.

One of the great non-monetary rewards of entrepreneurship is the frisson it brings to each day.  There is an elan vital that suffuses every breath of the entrepreneur’s day, a personalization and weight that comes with being radically responsible for your own life and for the life of the corporate entity you animate.  What you do, what you decide, really counts.

I was reminded of this reading an article in Business Week last month.  The article was entitled, “28:  Grateful to be Employed, Bored Half to Death” (Mike Dorning, 6/20-6/26, 2011).  It talks about the great sense of “stuckness” endemic in the young corporate workforce.

“From the factory floor to the boardroom, few Americans these days are willing to tell the boss shove it.  Many of those who have weathered the recession with their jobs intact are now sheltering in place, either fearful of risking a change or simply lacking the opportunity.  Since January 2009, an average 1 million fewer Americans per month have quit their jobs than in previous years. Through April, the most recent data available, that adds up to 28 million Americans stuck in jobs they would have left in ordinary times.”

I think the stagnancy and tightness of the job market since 2008 could have long-term consequences for the vocational health, esprit de corps, and creativity of traditional corporate employees, where the primary goal becomes to survive at all costs and hold tight onto what is at least a stable status quo rather than step into uncertainty, even if that uncertainty offers a potential improvement in pay or career advancement.  It creates timidity and boredom.

Stan Greenberg, a former pollster for Bill Clinton, notes people’s hesitancy to make any moves in the current economy, whether into a new life in a new place, or even to escape from a tyrannical boss.  He says, “You’ve got 28 million people whose aspirations are being contained.”

A great, if unquantifiable, benefit of entrepreneurship is the gift of freedom. Freedom to be yourself, freedom to tell the truth, freedom to grow, freedom to laugh, freedom not to be cowed or compromised, freedom to march to the beat of your own drummer.  And freedom from boredom. The price of admission to this entrepreneurial reality is courage and risk.  Even if the entrepreneur fails, the growth of innate stature, earned gravitas, personal dignity, and moral centeredness remains.  It is well worth it, whether a business succeeds or fails.  And one is guaranteed never, ever to be bored.

The late Susan Sontag says, “The life of the creative man is lead, directed, and controlled by boredom.  Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.”

Thank you, Susan.


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