The interesting thing about this article turns out not to be the article, but the comments by CNN readers. Some are wildly favorable, and the ones that aren’t are downright hostile.
"Someone throw this guys off of the roof of Harvard Business School. People are starving to death looking for work and they’re supposed to find their inner child?"
"You are a jerk and should keep your trap shut until you learn a thing or three about hard work."
"Is the author’s passion in life to write stupid articles? Or does he do this for the money? I’m guessing he wrote this to get a paycheck."
"I think it’s great when people with high paying jobs and a big savings account tell us not to worry. Bite me, Peter."
"This is (nearly) the stupidest article I have ever read on a news website. CNN is supposedly a news network, not kumbayah, feel good, ideological bs. Work isn’t necessarily fun, which is why it is called work."
And those are the nice ones… ;)
The response is so polarizing, it’s like people are responding to two completely different articles. Other responses thank Peter for his inspiring words. Several readers say that this philosophy is backed up by their own experience.
Why the Anger?
So what’s going on? Why are so many folks so resistant and angry at the idea that work can be soul-fulfilling?
My guess is, folks who read my blog will resonate with Peter’s message. If only because you’ve seen that it’s possible to make a good living online. Whether you sell industrial equipment or massage or coaching or travel advice or radio-controlled toys or juggling equipment, you don’t think that entrepreneurship is simply "pie in the sky" positive talk by delusional ex-hippies or meaningless advice from the wealthy to the impoverished.
We’re entering a new phase in human history. The internet is part of it. The unsustainability of our assault on our planet is part of it. A stirring of the soul – a wave of common recognition that life is more than molecules and atoms – is part of it.
And saying it ain’t so ain’t gonna make it not so.
Ironically, the commenters who decry Peter’s lack of "realism" are the ones with their heads in the sand, in my opinion. They’re looking at the world saying, "This isn’t how things should be." Rather than looking at what is and asking, "What’s the opportunity here?"
Those of us who’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug know that we humans can dream a reality into being. And that if we don’t, we’re abdicating our responsibility by colluding with the consensus reality that seeks to minimize and disempower us. That wants us to be good little consumers and not passionate seekers and boat-rockers.
Of course, entrepreneurs are not the only ones who understand this powerful and esoteric truth. But we’re the ones who get to test it out in the world of molecules and atoms. And when we succeed, our advice is sought by others who want to follow in our footsteps, and scorned by those who don’t dare to hope of a better world ("Bite me, Peter").
My mentor and good friend Perry Marshall writes in defense of entrepreneurs on a regular basis (his latest post is a particularly eloquent and inspiring example). I confess, sometimes I’ve felt that he goes overboard in seeing "anti-entrepreneur" sentiment almost everywhere. But wading through the anger and nastiness (and outright threats) that cover up the fear of the abandoned, I’m reconsidering.
It’s important to recognize that the irrational anger is simply misplaced and projected fear. The fear is understandable. So don’t think that I’m looking down on those caught in its grip. When I’m afraid, nothing anyone says or does matters. The fear projects its own rules upon reality, and anyone who tells me the monster isn’t real is just trying to get me killed. Hence my anger. It’s self-preservation.
So what’s the takeaway here? I’m not sure. Here are a few contenders:
1. If you’re an entrepreneur, realize that no matter what happens to the economy, you’ll be in a better position than almost anyone to land on your feet. (See my post from yesterday on the 8 Magic Words of marketing.)
2. If you’re doing well these days, keep your mouth shut. Most people will not celebrate your good fortune.
3. Don’t give advice to anyone who doesn’t ask for it. Heck, who doesn’t beg for it. The only people you’ll be able to influence are the When Harry Met Sally Crowd: the ones who look at you and say, "I’ll have what she’s having." Not the ones who envy your money, but the spirit you bring to your work and life.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Unless you want to throw me off a roof…