Startup Diaries: Learn From The Risk Taking Of Others

A funny thing has happened since I quit my job. People are asking me for advice.

They want to know my story. They say things I never thought I'd hear in my life, like, "You're my hero", and then follow it up with "No, I'm serious!" 

In a nutshell my story goes:

Girl studies hard.

Girl gets job.

Girl gets promoted.

Girl quits job and runs off to join the circus. 

Ok, so I didn’t join the circus - I started my nonprofit strategy consulting practice. 

Still, my friends, family and especially colleagues were shocked, and apparently impressed, by this seemingly irrational move by such a deliberate and unspontaneous person. It had to be divine intervention, or maybe Britt finally cracked under the pressure. They wanted to understand my decision.

And the most interesting thing was that they didn’t seek comprehension only to confirm that I hadn't gone crazy – many wanted to understand it so they could do it, too. Imagine that!

When I made the decision to turn-in my career in hopes of charting an even more successful new course, I knew there would be some explaining to do. However, I never imagined that people would look to me as a source of inspiration.

As it turns out, a lot of people are unfulfilled in their current situation and are looking for something – a sign, a trigger, a reason – to convince them to go after something new. 

So, embracing my new, very unexpected, and at least somewhat undeserved responsibility as role model for those looking to take a leap of faith, I have a few suggestions: 

Go with your gut.  Don't make hasty decisions but certainly don't kill an idea simply because you're afraid that people around you won't approve. 

Talk about it.  Once I started talking about my idea (to strangers mainly), I gained momentum, and now that I've been talking about it more with friends and family I realize how much support I missed out on; I probably would have moved sooner and with more confidence had I started socializing the idea sooner. 

Seek out sources of inspiration.  Folks seem to have this one covered but I thought I would throw it in for good measure. Passion and energy are so important in keeping you motivated, and following other people’s stories of success has always acted as an important reminder of how badly I want it and that anything is possible. 

Meditate.  This may seem out of left field but making a significant life change is scary; my anxiety manifests in the form of sleeplessness, for which I found light meditation to be an amazing remedy. 

At the end of the day, no one can tell you the right answer or what you should do, but I certainly have found that some words of encouragement and a sounding board can go a long way.

People always say that you should learn from mistakes of others, and I agree.  You should also learn from others' enthusiasm and risk-taking.

I often remind myself that the Bill Gates of the world are not only brilliant innovators and businesspeople, with riches and success to show for it (and the ability to be incredible philanthropists as a result!), but they were also at one point the crazy kid who dropped out of college to pursue a dream. All of this has been instrumental throughout my decision to follow my passion and transition my life - and I couldn't be happier if my little story were an inspiration to someone looking to do the same. 

“Every artist was first an amateur.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

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