Reification

1 Dec

My recent post, Entrepreneurship and Envy, has gotten more attention than anything I’ve ever written. In the process of reflecting on it, I started thinking about what causes envy in the first place. Why do I care so much about the success of others? Why is it something that bothers me and I have to work to overcome it?

I think a lot of it comes down to how you define yourself. It’s easy to make small amounts of progress towards starting a company and call yourself an entrepreneur. The title comes easily, the work less so.

I’m starting to realize all the posturing, the self-titling, is harmful. It isn’t real and has no impact on a reality. Roommatefit will not succeed or fail based on whether or not I call myself an entrepreneur. Startup success occurs in the sphere of reality, not in the fluctuating world of Twitter bios, business cards and LinkedIn profiles.

For me, this is so easy to do. Thinking about selling a company and what that would bring – money, success, happiness – none of those thoughts are real. The fake titles, the hollow accomplishments (1000 Twitter followers) – this is how envy begins. You build yourself up as someone and expect reality to conform. When it doesn’t, when the titles and expectations and things you’ve built up in your mind don’t happen, it impacts your actual wellbeing. Reification. Things that have never happened, impacting how you feel about yourself on a daily basis. And that sucks.

Doing this can also be strategically limiting. Define yourself as an entrepreneur and it makes you reluctant to take a job – even if that job may be the best move for you at the time.

How am I trying to deal with it? By going back to philosophy, by being present. By focusing on putting in the work and trusting that results will come at some point. By punching the clock at the end of the day, knowing I’ve done all I could to move forward in the 24 hours I’ve been given.

True happiness is.. to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future – Seneca