Photo by Pearl
When I was five years old, my parents made the decision to move the entire family from our comfortable home in Boise, Idaho to a small jungle village in South America named Shell-Mera, Ecuador. If moving to the middle of the Amazon Rainforest with three kids under the age of five sounds crazy to you, it’s probably because you are a sane human being with all of your wits about you. Thirty feet of rain a year, more fatal snakebites than any other area in the world, giant flying ants, and native tribes that only fifteen years prior were still regularly practicing ritualistic killings; and you mean to tell me that’s not where all young American families take a six-year vacation?
As with all youth, my unique upbringing played an important role in shaping the decision maker that I am today. A fancy college degree, a few tough bosses, and two started companies later, I still have trouble pinpointing an aspect of my life that has taught me more about what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur than those years spent with the toucans, monkeys, and bird-eating tarantulas. Here are just a few of those lessons from the rainforest that you can hopefully apply to the equally hostile but enchanting world of entrepreneurship:
NOTHING LIFE-CHANGING WILL HAPPEN, UNLESS YOU GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
There is nothing wrong with normal. However, most entrepreneurs, especially socially conscious ones, are not naturally satisfied with the status quo. As Neale Donald Walsch stated, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and that end of your comfort zone can’t be reached by continuing to live your life in the same way. Working in an underfunded, understaffed hospital on the edge of the Amazon, both of my parents were able to care for thousands of native Ecuadorians that would have faced inhumane fates if Dr. and Mrs. Holland would have decided to stay in Boise. How many lives are in need of the change that you can provide by leaping out of your comfort zone to start companies that can make a real difference? There’s only one way to find out.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH, TRUST YOUR TEAM, AND JUST GET THE JOB DONE.
Entrepreneurship, especially in the early stages, is far from the glorious occupation it is often made out to be by modern media; instead it’s a high-stress, complex, isolating practice that requires a mental stability, a trusting team, and a special brand of grit that most people simply don’t have. When I am faced with a new challenge, I often think back on a rainy night in Ecuador during which the heavy rain caused a massive landslide, and nearly washed the road, and our Land Rover along with it, off of a thousand foot cliff. The situation was tense, but the family took a large collective breath, and got to work together to get the truck unstuck and past the landslide. Entrepreneurship is going to throw some pretty scary obstacles your way; you can freak out and lose your hair along with your company, or get to work accomplishing your goals with your team.
REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE WORKING FOR
If you’re in the business of making easy money, then starting a socially conscious company from scratch is not for you. While financial security is an obvious necessity, high failure rates, long hours, and near constant stress would tell you to find a simpler gig if you can’t handle the heat. In times of intense strain, remember whom it is you’re working to create this company for. For my parents, it was the children and families of Shell-Mera, Ecuador. For myself, it is the thousands of students in California elementary schools that wouldn’t have art classes as creative outlets if not for the funding that our company, Angeleno Artistry, provides. Keeping things in perspective will always help.
FROM THE EDITOR
At Conscious, we are inspired by remarkable people and organizations, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight human-interests, global initiatives, innovation, community development, and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe.