jim@millikenproject.com 207-808-8878 Our book "Life is a Project: How are you managing?" is now available!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Not an Entrepreneur

I’m not a real entrepreneur. I don’t gamble, either. Or race cars, or climb mountains. I don’t need the thrill.

Yet, there have been times in my worklife that I refer to as “combat,” not because of conflict. Instead, it was the life-or-death level of emotional involvement required by the circumstances, to the near-exclusion of other concerns – sometimes for periods of several years running.

I don’t work that hard for that long any more. That’s another reason I’m not primarily an entrepreneur.

While we’re on the subject, here is Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” passage:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

      Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic"
                                          delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 

Now THAT smacks of entrepreneurism.

I’ve known entrepreneurs all my life. Yesterday, I listened as 10 of them did presentations summarizing their needs for subject-matter mentorship and/or financing.

You can’t help but admire them, and salute how they have actually engaged the challenges never encountered by all the mere dreamers who settle for spinning rosy yarns. Those entrepreneurs I heard yesterday are in the arena – dust, sweat, blood and all for some of them. Homes, finances and who-knows-what on the line.

All of those entrepreneurs are project managers, although most of them don’t realize it. Their start-up enterprises have all the complexity, dependency and risk of classic projects. Most of them will take the strong "man in the arena” approach, and work like dogs. Maybe it has to be that way.

Such a response to the complexity, dependency and risk puts all the burden on the leader personally. When those who do it that way run out of gas, so will their projects.

It does not always work the other way around. Project managers may or may not be entrepreneurs, although the best of them in the more difficult projects are entrepreneurial. The inventiveness and persistence of the entrepreneur are precious traits of the effective project manager, in a disciplined way.

The wisdom of the project management process, including effective delegation, collaboration and communication, contributes coherence to the stubborn drive of the entrepreneur. The resultant process handles the errors and shortcomings, and supplies the deeds, devotions, enthusiasms and achievements.

When it’s done properly, the leader usually is not “marred by dust and sweat and blood,” but most definitely is not “a cold and timid soul.”

Not necessarily an entrepreneur, either – a project manager.

No comments:

Post a Comment