Are entrepreneurs made or born?

There’s a lot of talk about entrepreneurs being born, not made. You either have it or you don’t.

It may have some merit. It may be a valuable tenet to stick with if you’re an investor trying to protect your downside.

But it’s a shitty deal if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur with a lot of failures behind you. Not much of a future in that belief.

Interestingly, there seems to be just roughly as many people arguing that entrepreneurs are indeed made, not born (5510 Google hits for “born” vs 6870 for “made”).

Here’s what I know.

I know that the human mind has two parts: The conscious part and the unconscious part.

And no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise, your unconscious mind is in control 99%+ of the time.

One metaphor is that of the rider and the elephant. Your unconscious mind is the elephant. Your conscious, rational mind is the rider. It’s pretty clear who’s in charge, when push comes to shove.

Another way to look at it is that your unconscious mind can process 40 million inputs per second, while your conscious mind is only able to process 40 inputs per second. That is, your unconscious mind is a million times more capable in this regard.

So it’s usually not enough to change your conscious mind. If it were, we’d all be super-successful and achieve all of our dreams.

You need to change your unconscious mind as well. And that’s a lot harder.

The big difference is that your unconscious mind is a like computer. There’s no-one there. It can’t think for itself. It just runs the programs that it’s been outfitted with.

Where does the program come from? From your upbringing. Actually, from you’re a fetus, which means, after your first 3 months inside your mother’s womb, this programming starts. And for the first about 6 years of your life, it continued through non-verbal communication (have you ever noticed how good small children are at sensing your energy?).

So if the programs that you’ve wound up with is working for you, great!

But if it’s not, you’re going to have to change it.

But changing your subconscious programming can be pretty hard.

Some of it is fairly straight-forward. Very often, just shining conscious light on a belief or an unconscious programming is all it takes.

But at other times, it takes relentless commitment to learn new habits.

There are certain techniques you can use. NLP has a bunch (don’t know much about NLP, but I’ve heard of some of the techniques). Generally, your unconscious mind will learn from experience, so if you act in new ways, consistently, over a period of time, your unconscious will tend to adapt.

So to get back to the question about whether entrepreneurs are born or made, my answer is: “Both”.

Some entrepreneurs are born, that is, they’re born with unconscious programming that make them more likely to be successful.

But the rest of us don’t have to give up. It’s absolutely possible to become a successful entrepreneur (I have to believe that). Maybe even a great entrepreneur. But it will take more (and a different kind of) work.

It also begs the question: What is success? Are we talking money, or are we talking something more meaningful, like impact on other people on this planet?

And there may be other benefits to the “made, not born” route:

Sometimes the rewards that took the most work to get are the sweetest rewards in the end.

It’ll probably make you better equipped to teach the skills you learn to other people. It can be difficult to teach something you find too easy, because you can’t empathize with your student.

And it may make you better able to appreciate the plight of others, who are struggling with the unconscious programming they’ve been dealt in life.

I want to end by linking to this great blog post by Derek Sivers. After having sucked at singing for 15 years, but really really wanting to be good at it, and practicing, practicing, practicing, he finally made it.

It starts with “everyone said I was just not a singer”, and it ends with:

Someone who heard me for the first time then said, “Singing is a gift you’re either born with or you’re not. You’re lucky. You were born with it!”

Go read now.

Then go be an entrepreneur (if you want to), whether you were born one or not.