by Richard Branson.
I took some time a few weeks ago to re-read one of my favorite entrepreneurial books, Richard Branson’s Losing my Virginity. I love this book and consider it a must read for not only potential entrepreneurs but anyone who aspires to get all they can out of life. I could go on and on about this detailed, educational, and downright fun book, but instead I want to talk about a key lesson I pulled out of it: Life’s a game…if you play it.
The remarkable playfulness of Richard Branson is easy to pick up in this book immediately. He doesn’t ever get wrapped up in what he should or shouldn’t do, what he can or can’t do, what he knows or doesn’t know. He looks at opportunities, asks himself “Is that something I’ll have fun doing ?” If yes, then he acts on it. Now. I’m sure you’re thinking, “well he’s a billionaire, he doesn’t have anything to lose. He could lose lots and lots of money and still have more.” True, but the reason he is a billionaire is due to his playful nature. It’s not about the money. The money is an important part of the equation but for him it is icing on the cake. He goes after businesses that would be fun and potentially disruptive. With this approach he’s developed many successful and large businesses from Virgin Atlantic (airlines) to Virgin Mobile, Virgin Rails, Virgin Lottery etc…
What’s money for anyway? To make things happen. After years of building up the very successful Virgin Records he could’ve retired to a life of relaxation on his tropical getaway at Necker Island. But instead when an American lawyer called him up and said, “You should start an airline,” he said…that sounds like fun, I’ll do it (in the process leveraging and risking his Virgin Records success). By the way, he had no airline experience other than being a passenger like most of us. After a few years of struggles he pushed through, and Virgin Atlantic continues on as a successful airline. For him the process was what he sought, the experience, the thrill, the excitement, and the opportunity. Sure, he wanted it to be successful, but by focusing on the fun and possibility he ensured it would.
It’s easy to think ok, if I can just get this website working, then people will come and use it, and I’ll sell it for millions. This could happen, and does for some. But what about going out and just doing something that would be a lot of fun and not worrying about the end result just yet? Yes, this sounds risky, but isn’t the prospect of not living even more risky? I heard a great quote about Tiger Woods recently…supposedly he said “I strive for performance, not results.” This is a little more serious sounding than going out and doing what would be fun, but it’s basically the same message. Life’s about the journey, not the destination. Branson is an example of where a fun journey can take you.