One of my favorite fables is The Boar and the Fox. It goes something like this. One day a Fox is walking in the woods and spots a Boar, sharpening its tusks against an old tree. The Fox, seeing no one around, asks the boar: “Why are you sharpening your tusks? There is neither a hunter nor a hound in sight.”
The Boar responds: “It would do me no good to have to sharpen my tusks at the time when I should be using them.”
Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, advises his readers: don’t start a business until people are asking you to. In other words, focus on trying to fill a demand or need – don’t just create an idea and hope people like it.
But what if, like me, you don’t know what demand you’re trying to fill? What if you know you want to start a business or enterprise, but you’re not sure what to do, who to help, etc.? My answer: Sharpen your tusks.
Prepare yourself. Start a project you can be excited about. Don’t worry about being rich and famous and powerful yet. Develop your skills and make yourself valuable. Build a network of valuable connections. Show your work.
As you develop your skills and grow your knowledge, you’ll have a much better time spotting and seizing opportunities that come your way. And because you’re prepared, you’ll have a much easier time with it.
So don’t feel bad when you hear “success stories” of people around you. Just focus on yourself, build yourself, and you’ll be fine.
For an article that inspired me on this topic, read Cal Newport’s “The Art of the Finish.”