There is too much pressure to be the absolute best of the best. With incredible business and life leaders like Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, and Tony Hsieh, releasing stories about their imperfect but epic life, what was meant for inspiration usually ends up being too daunting.
Sure, your idol dropped out of high school only to run a multi-billion dollar company. Indeed, they had countless failed business ideas but ended up stumbling upon one that disrupted the industry like no other. Yet, here you are, with a great or in-progress company and it feels like nothing you do will ever surmount to the success of those who came before you.
Time to cut the negative talk.
I've been right where you are (in fact, I still go there if the occasion calls for it), but believing that we are not influential and great in our right is the biggest mistake we could make.
I believe that you don't need to be featured in a magazine, inducted into the Hall of Fame, or listed in a Top 100 list in order to have made a lasting impact. No one needs to know your name or recognize you on the street for you to feel successful. At the end of the day, being deemed the "Greatest of All Time" isn't a title for anyone to grant you - it's one that you've earned in your own time and with its own special story.
So, how exactly do you aim for overall influence rather than recognition and fame?
Work on a project that you care passionately about.
Wake up every morning excited to get to work. Talk to strangers about what you do, not because you want to annoy them, but because it's what you care the most about. Feel like your work is an extension of who you are, not an unnatural push to be something else. These are the small things that help you know you are on the right path.
Commit to a mission that is greater than yourself.
What keeps us going when things get hard is knowing that you are doing something in life that is rooted in community service. When the going gets hard, you can make it better by knowing that you are working towards a greater cause. Once you can leave your personal space, amazing things can happen.
For example, I teach fitness classes in addition to my full-time work. A few years ago, I went through an extremely tough break up. For several months after that breakup, I didn't want to teach. I didn't want to show up in front of sixty people, feign a smile, and be high-energy for two hours.
But, I did it. I forced myself to never miss a class (even if I had been crying 5 minutes prior) because sixty people came here to work out. They had their own troubles that they were trying to escape and it was my job to create that space for them. My problems were nothing compared to theirs and this kept me going. More on this below, but spoiler alert: it was all worth it.
Disregard the numbers and focus on individual impact.
You don't have to have 5 million users or followers to be impactful. You just have to focus on the quality of one impact and design a plan for that strategy to be implemented and repeated over time. Even if you never reach influence in the millions, it doesn't matter. Your measure of success should be in the results you see in your immediate community. Sometimes, one is the biggest number.
To continue from above, my mindset was validated later that year when a student came up to me sharing that I had helped her get through her own breakup and that my classes helped her find stability and clarity once again. Things had come full circle.
That moment is what I live for. It's a moment that every person (entrepreneur or not), should live for. Whether or not you are considered "world-renowned", remember that to at least one person (but probably many more), only you are capable of positively impacting lives in the unique way that only way you can.