This was originally published over at the RJI blog. But I really liked what I’d written. So I’m republishing it here:
This is not a motivational blog post. I am not writing this to inspire you. I do not want you to read this and quit your job.
Is that clear?
Are you sure?
Because I go to Mach 1 pretty quickly on these things. I get wound up and start running like Lombardi before the Ice Bowl, like a guy who’s got an Espresso drip running in one arm and the soundtrack to ‘The Natural’ blasting in the earbuds. I get wound up, and sometimes, the fortune cookie quotes start leaking out.
It’s all this one girl’s fault. I was having a beer with an MU student on Wednesday. J-school senior here on campus. Ambitious, talented, overworked. She wanted to know about me and my startup. And like any student worth her journalism degree, she had a good question for me:
Why are you doing what you’re doing?
And I didn’t answer it well enough. Lately, all the questions have been forward leaning: What are you doing now? What are you doing next?
But it’s been a while since someone asked me, straight up: Why are you doing what you’re doing?
I didn’t give her the full answer yesterday. So right now, I’d like to tell her, for starters:
I’m doing this because I can. Because there’s opportunity for something like Stry. Because it’s risky. Because I want to learn. Because I don’t have 2.5 kids and a wife and a job and a mortgage. Because I had the money to get it started, and maybe I’ll find the money to keep it going. Because I hated life in a cubicle. Because I’m too naive to know that failure is all but certain for a startup like this. Because I made it this far, and yeah, Red, maybe I can go a little farther. Because I think the phrase “You can be whatever you want to be” needs another case study. Because I want to do the work. Because I like doing the work. Because I like being busy, and not TPS Report busy or Conference Call With the Head of Whatchamacallit busy. Because this is the time I have, and this is what I have to work with, and because I’ve got people behind me who seem to think I can pull this off, and because so do I, and mostly:
Because I can.
There are not a lot of things I believe in completely — I’m not Crash Davis, alright? — but I believe this: In this life, you find things you love and people you love, and make room for both.
Right now, with Stry, I’ve got something I love. I wake up in the morning excited to get up. I know that sounds like some “Jerry Maguire” BS, but it’s true. I love coming to work. This company sinks or swims based on what I do. It’s on me. This thing goes as far as I can take it.
That’s terrifying and empowering and thrilling, and it’s my day-to-day existence. I love that.
And, yeah, the fortune cookie quotes start leaking out sometimes. But I don’t mind that. I had a yoga teacher in San Antonio who told me once, “Trying is doing.”
So why am I doing what I’m doing?
Maybe it’s because I just had to try.