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What Motivates You?

Jim and I have been having an off and on discussion about the role of fear in motivating entrepreneurs. He is of the belief that fear of failure and financial ruin is a huge motivator to keep an entrepreneur moving and taking the risks necessary to succeed. The idea of having to move to Tent City (or the Occupy Wall Street encampment) is what keeps Jim putting one foot in front of the other even when it has been 20 hours since the last sleep.

On the other hand, I do not believe that fear of the prospect of failure and financial ruin is a motivator. I believe that the knowledge that I have survived those times when I have had nothing and had to start over acts as a safety net to allow me to take risks and keep moving. As I often tell folks “They can’t kill you and eat you.” The worst that can happen is you get to go camping and eat a lot of ramen for six months while you regroup, but you can get up and go again.

Ricky Steele, who spoke to the Four Athens community a while back emphasized that failure is not the same thing as quitting. As an entrepreneur, you can learn at least as much from failure as you do from success. The important thing is that you get up, dust off and keep moving. If you are motivated to do that by fear or the knowledge that you have survived doesn’t really matter. It is the act of moving on.

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