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On Beginning Your Escape: Helicopter Pilot to Startups

Pat Larsen is a former Navy helicopter pilot and investment banker.  Now a tech entrepreneur (www.profitics.com) and writer (www.patricklarsen.com) that travels with his growing family.

As the band Rage Against the Machine put it in Guerilla Radio:

It has to start somewhere

It has to start sometime

What better place than here, what better time than now?

All hell can’t stop us now (repeat 6 times)

Often, to become someone (writer, traveller, entrepreneur)- you simply need to state that you are now, in fact, that person.  But a little farther than just saying it, you have to internally, in your core, believe it.  That’s when you will feel a significant, unmistakable change in yourself.  It changes the lens through which you see the world and focus your attention.

Writing

I found that once I decided I had something to say, writing became a lot less scary and I now write a lot more often.  The words come to me more easily.   I found momentum.  I just had to start writing.  There is no voice of doubt or distraction in my mind now.  Now, I constantly make voice memos on my phone or jot down ideas in Evernote.  I have found that people like what I write and are willing to pay for my words.

Photography

Once I decided I was an amateur photographer, I started taking a lot more pictures and finding a lot more scenes worthy of photographing.  I started going through a lot more effort to get a shot (running into a busy road intersection in Yokohama’s Chinatown… 4 times to get “the shot”- it is hard to get a Japanese driver to honk at you- but I did it).  I started planning out shots in more detail.  My perspective changed.  Just a little click in my head that changed the entire way the world came in through my eyes. I have since found that people like what I photograph and are willing to pay for my images.

Fuji Toss 500

Chinatown 500

Entrepreneurship

You leap first, then the net appears.   I find that people (myself included) always want to see the net before they make the leap.  Sadly, that is never how it works. You must take your leap of faith first- only then will the net appear.  Delaying does not make the net appear, leaping does.  Only once you begin will you put in the 100 hour weeks and run through your whole Rolodex and take random coffees and try random experiments.  Only then will friends appear to help you. Only then will you meet other doers.  You will not do these things until you take the leap- until you are falling, falling, falling.  The only way to become an entrepreneur is to become one- to cast off, to lose sight of shore, perhaps to burn the ships.

Watch Steve Jobs in “The Lost Interview”. You will be struck by the fact that this man with very little formal education has an expert grasp of software design and engineering, hardware design and engineering, industrial engineering, behavioral science, finance, power games and philosophy among many other subjects.   He had no problem beginning.  He was also very careful with what he did do and did not do- using great restraint in the breadth of activity but great energy and focus in the depth of an activity. He did not know all these things before he began.  He learned by doing.

FAIL

Get over your fear of failure.  Stoicism drill here: take whatever action you would like to start but for some reason haven’t. List out all the ways you could possibly fail.  List out all the consequences of those failures.  Then, list the absolute, #1, most terrible, worst thing that could possibly happen if you took this action.  Usually what you come up with is “embarrassment” or, “I guess I could always go back to my job in 6-12 months.”

Now, knowing that- is it really so scary?  You’ll most likely feel a weight come off your shoulders now that the vague, amorphous dread of failure has been replaced by the concrete, enumerated negative outcomes of failure.  The worst case scenario will generally be completely survivable and completely justified by the potential upside of taking action.  Learning from failure is so much more beneficial than living a life devoid of risk taking and personal growth.  People often don’t consider the huge costs of not learning something.

Begin

So, please, please- simply begin doing what you wish you were already doing.  You already know what you want to do.  Why wait?  What makes tomorrow better than today? Why can’t you take that small, meaningful step…today?

 

  • mike

    Terrific article. May I add that for a rocket to get off the earth and break through gravity, it takes extra power to overcome its effects. Also, when I begin something I do it by time. I write down how many minutes I worked on my project, write it down and mail my weeks minutes to a sponsor. It worked in school and continues to work now. Very inspirational Captain. Mike

  • http://twitter.com/StevePuttrich Steve Puttrich

    Spot on target sir.
    Your words inspire and give courage for others to take action.
    Well done.