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You. In Business.

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“I wish there was more to do in Fort McMurray.”  What an anthem for a bored city if I’ve ever heard one.  I’ve been hearing this since the day I arrived as a four-year-old with popsicle-stained hands.  I imagine it was said long before that, and it will probably continue to be said by the consumer critics for years to come. Wracking my brain, I can only think of one way to move the reality of this city.

Many of us need to finally kill the heavy, laughing and nagging “Want-repeneur” monkey on our back.  You know, that persistent desire you’ve always had to start your own business.  The craving you have to open that coffee shop.  That food truck.  The axe-throwing, whiskey-tasting man-cave kind of place.  A bakery.  That IDEA you have that would just be AWESOME one day.  Even just to have started something of your own.  To have scaled the mountain, if only to prove to yourself, that your best effort made you a tested, credible entrepreneur.

The dreams dance around in your head as you pull another night shift—dreams of business, the lifestyle, the perfect ‘finally.’  But it’s quickly choked by thoughts of the time commitment, the money, the cost of real estate up here, global warming…..  Another day.  Soon.  I swear.

I’m not preaching from the high pulpit of accomplished business.  What I’m writing is mostly to scold myself.  I’ve been a chronic business junkie for years now.  Reading books on business, taking courses, studying the lives of successful entrepreneurs, subscribing to ‘Start Up Magazine’ monthly and everything else a good entrepreneur does.  Except start a business.  Pretty pathetic, no?

It’s all been a vicious cycle of mind sabotage more than anything.  I think many of us are guilty of this.  We are told to set goals.  So we do.  1. – Be Harvey Spectre.  2.- Drive cool cars.  3. –Solve global indifference.

I was just reading a book on sports psychology that may have found our fatal flaw (or mine at least).  It’s been proven that people who set goals and think only of the outcomes are LESS likely to accomplish them.  The ones who succeed are usually the ones who focus on the process and let the goals go.  Trusting that dedication to the daily tasks will take them where they want to go.  Paradoxical, I know.  What was found in many athletes, that the goal, of course, was often to be an Olympic gold medalist, but those who obsessed over the medal, or the stakes of a certain race or performance, were the ones who did some sort of mental self-sabotage, and choked.

Could this translate to our business and personal goals too?  Do we enjoy writing every day?  Or are we obsessed with the idea of being an author?  Is the discipline of the gym itself enough?  Or is there a weight, a performance, a size, a number that has us so obsessed, we end up throwing a wrench into our otherwise good intentions?

Navy Seal Joost Jansen says his philosophy is, “Research, Analyze, Decide.”  In other words, we have to stop living in the lofty perfection of tomorrow.  If something makes sense now with all the information we have, just do it.  The risks will always be there.  But you’ll almost never regret moving towards your Mecca.  Even if you only make it half way, you’re closer than the guy that only talks about the trip; obsesses over the trip; subscribes to ‘Mecca’ magazine and talks about the ‘day’ he’ll see it.  (You hear that Anthony?!?!)

So maybe there isn’t enough to do in Fort McMurray.  But maybe you haven’t actually been waiting for the perfect time, for costs to go down, for global warming to stop.  Maybe you’ve just needed to get over the size of your goal.  Take it one day at a time.  Make one customer happy.  Just one.  Before you know it, instead of bemoaning the lack of activities here, people will be on their way down to your establishment.  Well done, business owner.  Well done.


“One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


Photography by Jacquie McFarlane Brault