I was recently talking to a friend who’s now living in Nevada and my friend was lamenting the political state of California.
The Sacramento politicians have never met a tax increase they don’t like and they never stop thinking of new reasons to wrap entrepreneurs in more layers of red tape. It’s time to leave, he said.
But I said to my friend, “Bring it on. I’m kind of a risk taker so I’ll just flourish and prosper anyway.”
Yes, California is a prohibitively difficult place to succeed. I think our government is overbearing and I don’t like its belief that it should be allowed to run our lives in its quest to build a liberal utopia.
But that said, people succeed against much more overwhelming odds than these every day.
My grandmother, Paula Schuamenau, was born in the little town of Sniatyn, where Romania, Poland and Russia once met. She lived in a house with dirt floors, no indoor plumbing or electricity, and under the rule of a dictatorship.
I’m not telling you this to make you feel bad for her family though. Not by any means
By the time my grandma reached her teens the family was the wealthiest in town. My great grandfather founded a textile factory, became wealthy, and bought the fanciest house in town right on the town square, so the family could wave at the parade as it passed by.
Were the odds against them? Yes. But my great grandfather didn’t use his poverty as an excuse. He didn’t use the oppressive government as an excuse. He decided to succeed and he did.
It’s about time more people took responsibility for creating the kind of change they want to see in the world. Don’t blame the economy for your laziness. Don’t blame the coronavirus for your failures. There’s people getting rich selling masks right now. There’s people at Zoom getting rich.
You can’t tell me you can’t do it because when you were a kid your teacher was mean to you. Or they didn’t encourage you and tell you that you could do great things. Or they made fun of you. You know what? Me too! The teacher was mean to me too! My guidance counselor told me I needed to set my expectations lower because not everyone can do great things.
But you can either use it as an excuse to stay where you are or you can use it as motivation to say one day my haters are gonna ask me if I’m hiring.
My grandma told me a folk legend once that came from Europe. The king appointed a day one day where everyone could put their troubles in a bundle and go down to the river. Only catch was they had to take a bundle home with them. The people excitedly waited for the day to come, and when it did, they packed up their troubles and went down to the river. But by the end of the day, after they looked through the other bundles, everyone went home with their own.
We all have struggles. I don’t know what yours are. But I know whatever it is your struggle can be your excuse or your struggle can be your stepping stone.
In the story of David versus Goliath, the sword the giant was going to kill David with was the sword that David picked up and used to take the giant’s head off.
Excuse or stepping stone. The choice is yours.
Eric Eisenhammer is CEO of Dauntless Communications a political strategy and technology company based in the Western US.
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