19 Jan The Wonder of Sports and Entrepreneurialism
When you wake up in the morning, do you know what is going to happen? I don’t mean do you have a schedule or a plan, I mean do you really know for sure what the day holds? Of course, you don’t. Does not knowing bother you? Or is it exciting?
I started thinking about this recently after listening to Tim Ferris’ podcast, The Tim Ferris Show. He had an episode where Cal Fussman interviewed Larry King. During the conversation, they talked about King’s love for sports—which sounded an awful lot like my love of sports.
King’s favorite thing, he said, was waking up, knowing there would be a ball game later that day, and not knowing with any certainty how that game would play out.
With a movie, sure, if we haven’t seen it before, we don’t know what will happen, but somebody knows. It was scripted. A sporting event has no script (or, if it does there’s a problem!). Sometimes the outcome is maddening, sometimes exhilarating. Just recently, I witnessed the Oklahoma Sooners choke the game away by not allowing maybe their best player ever (Baker Mayfield) a chance to win the game for them. And I also watched the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens on a fourth down play–sending the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs. There was no way to plan for what happened in those events. And that’s the beauty of it.
Which brings me to entrepreneurialism. Entrepreneurialism is unpredictable. Am I right? Sure, there is planning and research and testing, a whole lot of work we go through to stay ahead of uncertainty, but any business owner who doesn’t have unexpected twists and turns in their day is one I haven’t met yet. It may be a minor shake up, or it could be major. It could be a wonderful surprise, or it could be very, very bad. No matter how hard we try, and no matter how good we are, we simply can’t plan for everything.
And that’s great news. I mean, the thing I like best about sports is the uncertainty, the unpredictability, so why shouldn’t I be happy to find the same thing in my work? That’s where the excitement comes in. Yeah, sometimes the uncertainty makes me want to tear my hair out, when I don’t know how some risk I took is going to play out or when somebody (sometimes me!) makes a mistake and I’m not immediately sure how to fix it. There are moments in business that definitely give a person gray hair and heartburn. But at the same time, the unpredictability is why I love my job.
Life, basically, is uncertain. You can love or you can hate that fact. But I think most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, find unpredictability exciting, at least in some circumstances—so why not embrace all of it?
I could never say it as well as Larry King, so I won’t try, but hearing him talk about his passion for waking up in the morning and being lucky enough to look forward to a ballgame—how cool.
He spoke, too about being lucky enough to have conducted 50,000 interviews, another thing he loved. All of it, unscripted. All of it, wonder-full.