Today I returned to Holland, after spending a few very pleasant weeks in Zurich.
No train this time – instead, a car trip with my good friend Machiel – the one who builds kayaks by hand.
And he told me something that made me think.
See, his kayaks are built according to a traditional Greenland Inuit design.
So very sleek, but also very unstable.
One false move, and you topple over into the drink.
We went out for a paddle a few times, and I’m happy to say I stayed dry.
And while I enjoyed the experience, it wasn’t actually exercise in any way.
More like, floating around a paddling along a bit.
Fun, but hardly strenuous – and it doesn’t have to be, given how well these puppies move.
But Machiel also went on a few trips on his own, and today he said it’s a whole different game.
It’s exercise, it’s strenuous, and it really engages the muscles.
And it made me think:
For many entrepreneurs, the process of building a business is pretty much the way I drive (sail? operate?) a kayak.
Piddling around, in other words.
Bit of fun, enjoying the scenery, sun on your face.
While for other entrepreneurs, being in business means properly paddling, and in no modest or piddling way.
Because if you want to go places – be it to entrepreneurial affluence or the other side of the lake – you’d better paddle like you mean business.
Otherwise, all you’re doing is piddling about.
Which is not wrong or bad – just please don’t think that it’ll get you to building a self-sustaining, prosperous business.
You know this to be true:
To reach big goals, you need to put in large amounts of effort.
If you can’t, or won’t, or are afraid to, that’s ok.
There’s no rule that says a hobby that brings in some money isn’t a worthy goal to strive for.
But it just isn’t the same as going for the big audacious goal.
Or, indeed, putting in the effort required to get to that goal.
Me, I know what goal I have, and yes: I’m putting in all that I have.
No piddling about for me.
Nor with the kayaks: next time I see Machiel, I’ll tell him to show me how it’s really done – I want to sweat.
And as for you, and your business…
How committed are you?
How big is your goal?
How much are you willing to put in?
In other words:
Are you piddling, or are you ready to paddle as if your life depends on it?
If the latter, I’d like to meet you.
Because if there’s one thing irresistible to me, it’s a maker of things with a big ambition, and the guts to make the ambition a reality.
So what it’ll it be: piddle, or paddle?
Also published on Medium.