Change the World - Really? You've Lost It...

Whenever I tell people about the mission of GoodWell they usually listen politely, maybe even ask a few questions and then say something to the effect of “good for you”.  In the back of their minds I know what most are thinking, “he has lost it”, and to be completely honest I think the same thing all the time.

Every time I stop to really, really contemplate the scope of the GoodWell mission along with the steps which would have to occur in order for us to fulfill that mission I am overrun with fear. I want to go climb into bed, pull the covers over my head and hide.  I want to stuff the idea back into my head where it languished for about 6 years before I worked up the courage to announce it to the world.  I want to go back to the blissful ignorance I lived in where these weighty issues were not on my mind all day long.  I want to go start something else, something easier, something I have done before, something where my background lends credibility to the effort - something to do with software. 

These fears are compounded daily by people telling me how difficult this will be, or by the rejection I feel every time someone says no to the idea of joining GoodWell as a Founding Member.  Furthermore, my ego takes a hit every time I see someone else “succeeding” in a traditional sense.  The monster starts up again saying - “you dip-shit, go out there and make it happen, stop this goodie two shoe nonsense and get back after it”.  All of these fears combined with my traditionally logical, objective mind mean I wake up nearly every day with an elephant on my chest crushing me, taunting me like a big brother waiting for me to cry uncle.

Such is the life of any entrepreneur, or anyone trying to create change.  I am not special in this regard, we are all filled with self doubt and fear of failure.  We may look confident on the outside, but we all, and I mean all, have a massive fear of failure.  It takes the courage of a lion to go and put yourself out there in the world to be judged time and time again.  Told you are crazy, stupid, incapable of delivering.  Told your plan is terrible, your team is inadequate, you don’t have the resources, you are too early, or too late, the market is not big enough.  To get your ego crushed on a daily basis.  These are the trials and tribulations we must accept when we challenge the status quo and try to create something from nothing.  After 20 years of startups and four companies I know this as well as anyone, but it does not make life any easier. 

So am I crazy for trying to be a social entrepreneur after 20 years as a technology entrepreneur?  You're damn right I am - certifiable.  Do I really think I can change the world?  You’re damn right I do, because without that belief I would be crying uncle instead of waking up each morning, kicking that elephant off my chest with all my might, rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.  And my hat goes off to anyone, anywhere who is trying to do the same thing - you are my hero, my inspiration.  Individually most of us will fail, but collectively we will succeed in creating a better world. 

Oliver Russell