We all know a defining point when we see one, whether deadly, tragic, gracious, or hilarious:
1. President George W. Bush, visiting an elementary school in Florida, hears his Chief of Staff Andrew Card whisper those ten unforgettable words, “The second tower has been hit. We are under attack.”
2. In the fifth game of the 1986 World Series, Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner flubs the game’s final grounder, igniting a Mets comeback that not only wins the game but ultimately the Series. From that moment on, Buckner is forever branded as the goat of the game.
3. In the epic play Les Miserables, the hero Jean Valjean, confesses to his pursuer, Inspector Javert, and then saves his foe’s life. This selfless gesture of grace lifts Valjean up from his life’s fate but drives his captor to question his very purpose and ultimately to suicide.
4. Animal House’s Bluto Blutarski’s immortal battle cry, “We didn’t quit when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor!” rallies his frat house from certain defeat to immortality in destroying the Faber College parade.
Genuine defining points change anyone’s life forever, especially that of an entrepreneur’s. Whether their point comes years after inheriting Dad’s business or right after dipping into savings again to meet payroll, every entrepreneur hits a point whereupon he or she will no longer tolerate their status quo.
While there are so many role models…
- Steven Jobs beats cancer and brings the iPad to market
- Ervin Magic Johnson lives with AIDs and grows Johnson Development Corporation after leaving basketball
- Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, overcomes dyslexia
…there is the ultimate role model, Popeye, the sailor man.
Consider his plight; despite his Zen-like mumbling, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am,” Popeye’s servant leadership drives him to date Olive Oyl, feed Wimpy, entertain Sweet Pea and tolerate Bluto’s increasingly tortuous behavior. But invariably, at the 18th minute of every show, Popeye proclaims, “That’s all I can takes, because I can’t takes no more!” Recognizing he has reached his Defining Point, he then pounds down his spinach, and the rest is academic. Popeye wins Olive Oyl, fronts Wimpy another burger, finds Sweet Pea, and gives Bluto a beating!
So with all these famous role models, if you see yourself taking incoming from all sides, take a cue from The Sailor Man. Engineer your defining moment, swallow your spinach and give those issues the good beating they deserve!
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Andy Birol is a noted small business coach, consultant and speaker who has been interviewed on CNN, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Entrepreneur, and Fortune Small Business. You can follow him on twitter @AndyBirol.