Risk and the PB&J

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I am not a risk-taker. I never climb on anything taller than myself. I would NEVER jump out of an airplane. I don’t even like to walk barefoot over gravel. Beyond physical risk, I am also not, in most repects, keen on taking emotional risks either. I recently polled my friends and family, asking if they perceive me as a risk-taker. Most of them laughed and I conclude that I am indeed, not a risk-taker.

But, I did just sign up to learn how to be an entrepreneur. I began reading Steven Schusser’s best selling book, It’s a Jungle in There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring. I felt a little worried in Chapter One when I realized my risk-taking skills were lacking. When Chapter Two moved on to passion, I felt a little more comfortable, secure in my ability to feel passionate about many things, specifically art making and creativity. I could talk about and explore these topics until most people’s eyes glaze over.

When Shcusser proceeded to ambition in Chapter Three, my eyebrows knitted and I began to worry that perhaps I needed to reconsider my endeavors in entrepreneurship. But then, Schusser wrote this:

“Think of passion and ambition as the peanut butter and jelly of entrepreneurial success: They work together to create a better outcome. Passion provides the fuel that drives a person to create a service or product and ambition supplies the desire to get that service or product out to the public (30).”

Ambition can be perceived as greedy, egotistical, or insincere. For me, art and the creative process strive for authenticity. It took a little PB&J visual to help me accept that ambition is not contrary to passion, and in fact, the two are catalysts for one another. If you have a passion for something, you want to see it brought into the world. You want to see it thrive, and that entails being profitable, being proud of the product or service created, and being bold in your support of your passion. As Schusser says both passion and ambition “must be present in people who want to reach their full potential as entrepreneurs (31).”

Entrepreneurship is an act of creativity, a process the entrepreneur must go through to bring a product or service to fruition. Returning to the concept of being a poor risk-taker, I have to admit, my passion for art and the creative process exceeds my fear of taking the leap into the entrepreneurial unknown. I am willing to risk something in order to appease my ambiton to share with the world the joy of the creative process.

Passion without ambition is just a sticky peanut butter sandwich.