You'd have been hard-pressed today to avoid the many arrows being slung from Cupid's social media armies. They've invaded your timelines, feeds, texts, emails, and, if you're lucky enough, perhaps they've even delivered a dozen or so of the more than 250 million roses that we slaughter each Valentine's Day to profess our love. (By the way, 85 million of those blossoms are actually sent to men. Personally, I've never been so lucky as to be on the receiving end.)
We love to love. And we spend to show it. According to the National Retail Federation, lovers will spend more than $20 billion this Valentine's Day on everything from flowers, to candy, to romantic dinners.
Love has built temples and tombs to its memory. It has caused the most powerful among us to abdicate thrones and forgo fortunes. And it has undoubtedly been the inspiration for more art, music, and prose than all other human emotions combined.
Yet at the end of the day, we all struggle to describe what love is in a way that can truly capture its essence. Scientists ascribe it to a chemical overload of oxytocin. Psychologists point to a longing for the earliest of bonds that we had to our mothers. Spiritualists point to the rejoining of lost souls from lifetimes past.
The Greeks believed that there is no one kind and have a dozen words for the pathos, passion, and affection that is love--oh, yes, and the tragedy too; these are Greeks after all.
Whatever love is, we've all felt it, longed for it, basked in its glow, and sat in the gaping hole it leaves when it departs.
What we do know is that love is impossible to fake, manufacture, or otherwise contrive. It either is or it is not--making it the rarest of all things that marks our experience and existence.
I'd describe love as that moment when Dorothy lands in Oz and the world turns from black and white to vivid Technicolor; the instant when you suddenly see everything you'd already seen a million times over in a way that makes it all entirely new.
So, what does any of this have to do with your business? More than you may think.
In a previous Inc article I had written about how conversations can deeply impact the levels of feel-good chemicals in our brains. The impact is so profound that, according to the late Judith Glaser, who had conducted over 30 years of research on the subject, these chemical interactions can actually have an impact on and alter our DNA. They rewire us in profound ways.
"That act of creation, be it a book, a business, or romantic love, is one in which we suspend disbelief and the distractions of the world and focus obsessively on that which consumes us, the pure essence of transforming our intent into reality."
The result is that our general state of mind, when we are engaged in conversations that involve empathy, caring, affection, and love, is altered from being closed, protective, and skeptical, to being open, opportune, and vulnerable. It's the euphoria of feeling that you're immersed in what has come to be called "flow," the state of being in which things just seem to click as thought the universe is suddenly conspiring to make your intentions reality in ways that seem effortless. But flow doesn't just apply to romantic love. According to Judy Glick-Smith, who has written extensively about how flow works, it's equally present in many of the situations than bind extraordinary teams.
If you're an entrepreneur, then you know that high in a way few do. And, like love, once you've felt it you can't settle for much else. You can't fake the passion and the energy of being in that state of creation. You will look for it at every opportunity. It will invade your thoughts and your dreams. It will cause you to become oblivious to the naysayers who surround you, because every fiber of your being resonates with the familiarity of that incredibly rare feeling. Ever try to talk someone out of being in love? Yeah, it's like that!
This is where it gets interesting.
An article in Psychology Today described some of the deep similarities between creativity, love and sex. The author, Dr Susan Perry, describes a conversation she had with a writer who told her that when she writes she feels "a heightening of senses, a rush, no concept of time, a dimming of the external world, an altered state in which creation is the unconscious though central intent." According to Perry, "That's precisely the kind of altered state I'd ascribe to the mind of the entrepreneur."
That act of creation, be it a book, a business, or romantic love, is one in which we suspend disbelief and the distractions of the world and focus obsessively on that which consumes us, the pure essence of transforming our intent into reality.
That last sentence will only sound obtuse, obscure, and harsh to those who haven't lived through the act of creating a business, where the level of desire has to totally outweigh the level of fear, insecurity, and, in pretty much all cases, the uncountable rational arguments against your success. As Peter Drucker once said to me, for the entrepreneur there is no risk, he or she is absolutely convinced of the validity of their vision.
If that's you then here's what I'd like you to remember most; it won't last forever, it's not supposed to.
I repeatedly tell entrepreneurs who I'm counseling or advising that the hardest and most demanding times of building their business from nothing more than an idea, are also the times they will look back on with the greatest sense of joy, admiration, and longing. This is as good as it gets. It's when you are at your most powerful and unstoippable. It's the high, which once experienced, every entrepreneur longs for. And, like the euphoria of love, it will eventually be replaced by the day to day that makes up every business and relationship.
Far too many entreprenuers focus on the end game and lose sight of what gives them the greatest joy, building and growing something. The entreprenuers, and the people, who are always building. always learning, always creating are the ones who I see as the happiest of all.
To put it another way, if you're lucky enough to be smelling the roses today, cherish that feeling, bask in it, be present in every minute of it, let the amazement of what you're doing sink in, take pride in your unequivocal dedication to a vision; what you are experiencing is the rarest of all emotions. Do I dare call it love? You're damn straight I do!
Whatever its source, chemical, genetic, spiritual, psychotropic, the one thing that is for sure, is that you're one of the lucky ones.