Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Wednesday March 7th 2018

Why Serial Entrepreneurs Can’t Stop

Head Coach,
Why Serial Entrepreneurs Can’t Stop
Steven Berglas, Ph.D., 08.03.10, 6:00 PM ET

If you want to know what keeps serial entrepreneurs coming back for more, take a listen to the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. On his 90th birthday, Holmes said:

“The riders in a race do not stop short when they reach the goal. There is a little finishing canter before coming to a standstill. There is time to hear the kind voice of friends and to say to one’s self: ‘The work is done.’ But just as one says that, the answer comes: ‘The race is over, but the work is never done while the power to work remains.’ The canter that brings you to a standstill need not be only coming to rest. It cannot be, while you still live. For to live is to function.”

 Entrepreneurs are a blessed bunch. They have innate ability to recognize opportunities others cannot see, the chutzpah needed to defy convention and the courage to court failure. Once, that is.

Over time most entrepreneurs become more risk-averse than they were in their startup years. That’s a big reason so many prove themselves to be poor managers: They can’t cope with the fear of losing what they worked so hard to build.

Serial entrepreneurs, an even rarer breed, aren’t so shackled. They seem to grow bolder with each venture, be it a great success or fantastic failure. Their egos–those fragile engines of will and desire that propel (and cripple) entrepreneurs and working stiffs alike–appear all but bullet-proof.

Their secret? In a word: purpose.

Serial entrepreneurs want to make a buck, sure. They might even want to show up a nagging authority figure from their past. But what they really want, above all, is to change the world. (In psychiatry this attribute is known as generativity–a passion to improve the planet for successive generations.) Revolutionizing industries might be one approach; combating an injustice or influencing policy are two more.

Of course serial entrepreneurs take pride in their accomplishments; so, too, do they suffer self-doubt. The difference is that they respond to ups and downs with relative equanimity. Reason: Their work isn’t about single victories–building once and settling in for the long, secure fade.

Changing the world is a quest. And that work is never done.

Dr. Steven Berglas spent 25 years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s department of psychiatry. Today he coaches entrepreneurs, executives and other high-achievers. He can be reached at:

In Depth: 15 Ways Your Laziness Is Costing You Money

Top Tips: 12 Ways To Bounce Back From Failure

Number of View: 1292

Leave a Reply