The Existential Entrepreneur:
Welcome to the Unfathomable Universe
Did you know that organized religion in some form started at least 35,000 years ago? Yeah, they found Venus figurines – representing a primordial female goddess – carved from soft stone dating that far back. There’s other evidence that suggests some kind of pagan religious practices may have started at least 40,000 years ago. That’s like to when the Neanderthals were still kicking around. Today there are almost 20 major religions with billions of followers, and as many as 3,000-plus religions in total, depending on who you talk to. It’s a booming business but that’s beside the point.
The point here is that ever since man emerged from his caves, witnessed a magical bolt of lightning strike the earth, and learned to use the resulting heavenly gift of fire, there’s been a need for some kind of framework for explaining life. Religion, economics, politics, sports, drugs, whatever your fancy. I mean, hell, we’re not only self-aware but we’re aware of our mortality, so we need something! Otherwise it’s full-on chaos and anarchy.
This I know: We entrepreneurs are facing chaos and anarchy everyday, so we definitely need a framework to live by that will help us cope with the mental and emotional rollercoaster. A framework to better our chance for success! That’s where The Existential Entrepreneur comes into play. Existential is kind of a fancy word, but I like it because it helps us get to the root of our existence and purpose as individuals. It makes us bring meaning to our lives. You may have encountered existentialism in a high school or college class while reading the likes of French author Albert Camus.
Sometimes, just to be sure about what I’m talking about, I like referring to dictionaries. So, Merriam-Webster’s definition of existential is:
“of, relating to, or affirming existence
grounded in existence or the experience of existence”
Let’s deconstruct existential a bit more, however, and go to Merriam and Webster’s prime definition of existence:
“reality as opposed to appearance; reality as presented in experience”
Now let’s circle back to existentialism and its definition:
“a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad.”
Operative words here are … Well, the whole damn thing seems pretty much spot on when you take the entrepreneurial plunge into creative chaos.
So now, what is the point? I could be flip and reply, Exactly, it’s all meaningless! But what I’m getting at is that what we go through mentally and emotionally is grounded in our experience, it’s reality for us, and appearances be damned (appearances meaning the image of the gun slinging entrepreneur on a cultural pedestal). Also, the experience of the entrepreneur can certainly be disorienting and confusing in the face of what can at times be a meaningless or absurd world (the unfathomable universe noted above). The existentialist will tell us that it’s our responsibility as individuals to give meaning to life. That’s some heavy shit. But it gets to the heart of why Existential Entrepreneur.
Philosophy and definitions aside, the primary purpose of this blog is to tackle the mental health of entrepreneurs straight on – the good, the bad and the ugly – and laying bare the realities. But the goal is not to be a downer; to the contrary, the goal is to offer shared experiences and the best practices to have you operating at an optimal level, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Add to that solutions for dealing with the stress and anxiety. We’re doing this by digging deep into research and conducting interviews of fellow entrepreneurs and thought leaders in various related fields.
We’re not talking about fluff and puff interviews with clever quotes by the bucket full. Instead, we focus on high quality interviews with peers and seasoned vets still doing battle in the trenches, because we’re looking for pragmatic, practical, and realistic solutions, as well as some compelling stories of course. Think about it, regardless of what phase in the entrepreneurial journey you might be in, you absolutely need to be performing at an optimal level at all times to handle a massive workload with multiple tasks; to make important decisions, sometimes very quickly; and to deal with stressors and pressure points.
There’s a great quote by best selling author of The God Delusion and biologist, Richard Dawkins. He said, “There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.” Along those lines, I need to throw in a quote from Albert Camus, who said, “There is no happiness if the things we believe in are different than the things we do.” So, let’s take responsibility. Let’s do things. No excuses, no laying blame on others. Let’s bring some meaning to our lives. And let’s bring some order to the disorder that makes you crazy as you lay in bed at 4 a.m. staring at the ceiling.