Why you must be the first one in and the last one out
The air was cool this morning. It's a reminder that the warm Summer days are few-and-far-between and that the the Fall season is just around the corner.
As I carried my lunch, my laptop bag and a bottle of water out to my car at 6:45am, I watched the warm morning sun glow like burning amber through the trees in our front yard.
Watching the sun rise is an amazing sight. It happens frequently for me. It fills me with a sense of potential, knowing that the world hasn't even woke up yet, yet here I am, heading in to work. There is so much that can be done.
I hopped in my car and made the same drive I've made almost every day for the past 6 months … into the Sprout Studio offices.
No one else was in yet. It is early. 7:02am to be precise.
I unpacked from the weekend, put a pot of coffee on and sat down at my desk. It is 7:11am.
As I started to prepare for the day, I came to a startling realization.
Like nearly every other day, I'm the first one in, and the last one out.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not bragging about my busy-ness, nor do I say this with any negative undertone for the rest of the Sprout team. They're some of the hardest working people I've ever had the pleasure of working with, and their dedication to excellence is unwavering.
I only say this as an observation, and to point out the fact that I like to be the first one in and the last one out. To me, it's what being an entrepreneur is all about. It's what is needed to truly move the needle.
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There are some who preach “work smarter, not harder”, but I believe that is a flawed perspective.
I believe that is lazy.
I believe that is not what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Sure, you can find efficiencies to work smarter, but it doesn't mean you don't work harder. You should find efficiencies so you can work harder.
Entrepreneurship is tough. Making a difference is not easy. The status quo is a simple trap to fall into, but to really make a dent, it takes hard work, dedication and passion.
Three words I took for granted
I recently had dinner with one of our Sprout Studio supporters, who believed in us from the start. He believed in us when Sprout Studio was basically just an idea. I asked him why he supported and invested his time and money into my idea when we didn't even have much to show for it yet.
He said three words to me, and then he shut up, letting me really take it in.
Those three words?
Passion. Drive. Trust.
He said he invested in me. The person. The entrepreneur. He said he saw a spark in my eye. He said he saw that I had the drive to act on it, and that he believed in my ability to do so.
I take these traits for granted I suppose. They're just a part of my very being, and I work and act with them, almost assumingly.
What entrepreneurship is really about
Entrepreneurship and success starts with people. It's about you.
It's about wanting to do something with all of your being, and then acting on it, without compromise.
It's about moving forward when everyone and everything else says to stop. It's about working even when it's painful. It's about putting the self-doubt and fears aside and pushing on. It's about hard work, dedication and a need to act.
It's about working hard and smart.
It's about being the first one in, and the last one out.
You have what it takes
You may not consider yourself an entrepreneur, but I consider you one.
I believe you have the potential to be a brilliant entrepreneur, in fact. I believe that you can really make a difference in the lives of many. And I believe you can be massively successful.
But, let me remind you that there is no fast-track. There is no easy way. There is no magic bullet.
Success only comes to those who work.
I've always believed this, but my friend and best-selling author Rory Vaden succinctly sums it up in one of the best one-liners I've ever heard. He says:
Success is never owned, it is only rented. And the rent is due every day.
So – are you willing to pay the rent? Are you willing to work hard?
If so, I suggest you commit to start being the first one in and the last one out.
P.S. In response to some feedback, I wanted to clarify a small point. In this article, I use “be the first in the last out” as a metaphor or “hook phrase”, basically meaning “working your ass off”, in whatever means possible. For me (and in the narrative I laid out), it literally means coming in early and leaving late. For you, though, this could mean working throughout your lunch break if you have a 9-5, or putting in some work when your baby is sleeping if you're a new Mom. You may not be able to literally “be the first in and the last out”, but you must be willing to work hard. If you really want to move the needle, it's going to require sacrifice and hard work, and there's no shortcut to that.