When you're trying to change an industry in a big way, it's the only thing that will keep you going.
If you spend much time with entrepreneurs who are radically changing anything--an industry, a technology, or a paradigm--you cannot help but be swept away by the possibility of it all.
I love being with them and all their optimism because I start thinking about what's possible for me. And isn't that what we all want? To have relationships that bring out the best in us and challenge us to imagine our lives a little bigger and better?
I want to tell you about two such people because their stories show precisely what you can achieve when you have determination.
Grit Trumps Everything Else
Bobby Huffaker had an idea. He realized he couldn't execute on it alone, so he talked to David Yoder. Together, these guys set out not just to disrupt an industry, but also to be a part of starting one that didn't yet exist.
In September of 2010, Bobby and David started American Exchange--a certified health exchange brokerage. They took a huge, huge bet that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would make its way through Congress, among the many other number of public opinion hoops it had to pass through, and find its way to the American consumer.
What I love most about Bobby and David is their grit. They not only saw opportunity and adventure, they seized it long before it was even a possibility. They raised a lot of money and stayed with the execution, even when some people insisted "this will never happen."
Like most start-ups, theirs was never a sure bet. Unlike most start-ups, however, people were actively working against them to snuff out their ability to exist. Their drive to keep going is what grit is all about.
Psychologist Angela Duckworth defines psychological grit as "perseverance and passion for long term goals."
Grit has emerged as a significant indicator for success--even more than IQ, talent, and social intelligence. It's the part of you that simply will not give up on your ideal future and works like hell to figure out a path to get there.
Your Future Is Yours to Create
Many people, even entrepreneurs, lack this grit because they see life as a series of circumstances that happen to them rather than an ideal future that they can create.
Actor Will Smith talks a little differently about grit.
"The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I'm not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things--you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there's two things: You're getting off first, or I'm going to die. It's really that simple."
That's what great entrepreneurs do. They have a vision that leads them on an adventure--a hero's journey if you will--and they are simply unwilling to stop until they change whatever is inefficient, status quo, unjust, or evil.
Regardless of your position on the ACA, you can't help but admire these guys. They epitomize the spirit of entrepreneurship unlike anyone I've ever seen.
They built something from nothing with a far-ranging vision. And instead of a potential upside, they were met with blank stares and Congressional backlash--and absolutely no promise of a financial return.
They jumped off the cliff with no parachute, no promise of a parachute, and, oh yeah, we might rip your parachute off you at some point.
But that's what entrepreneurs do. That's what Bobby and David did. And that's why I love these guys. They inspire me to think about my cliff, my parachute, and my fear.
Their hero's journey has inspired me to be alive to my own journey and to follow my own path--no matter what.
Dr. SHELLEY PREVOST is a co-founder of Lamp Post Group, a venture incubator in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She curates kick-ass cultures by infusing principles of positive psychology in her role as Director of Happiness. @thegladlab