Along with the notion that an entrepreneur has to be a ruthless warrior, there’s another metaphor that gets used a lot for small business owners–you’ve gotta have brass balls.
Apart from the irritating implication that only people with certain kinds of plumbing get to be successful, once you start meeting a lot of extremely successful people, you realize that this “requirement” is completely bogus.
I’ve done quite a bit of work with a gentleman who founded a billion-dollar company. He’s about as decisive as a squirrel trying to cross the street.
He’s prone to massive anxiety (and creating the same in the people who work with him). He makes a lot of fear-based decisions. He can be a little hysterical.
He’s also smart, resourceful, knows his customer incredibly well, and has boundless enthusiasm and energy for his business.
I’m not going to speculate on the makeup of the man’s testicles, but I don’t think anyone would use the term brass.
I know another entrepreneur, a woman who runs a top-of-the-line consultancy. She manages a team of 20 coaches who transmit her expertise to her clientele. She’s better than anyone at what she does because she’s more empathetic and more perceptive than her competitors, so she creates better solutions for her customers.
Is she a confident, self-assured businesswoman? Sure she is. Does anyone tell her she has brass balls? I suppose it’s possible, but that’s probably the last way you’d describe this woman’s warm, elegant style.
For various reasons, I’ve come into contact with many people at the height of success. They vary quite a bit. Some of them are megalomaniac control freaks. Some of them are head cases. Quite a few of them are low-key, quiet types that you would never guess made millions of dollars a year.
Success requires a commitment to consistent, focused action, and the ability to figure out the right kind of action to focus on. It requires either luck or talent. (If you’re lucky enough to get both, you can make it happen faster.) Usually it requires mentors, or at least good models.
Brass balls, however, are entirely optional. You have my permission to succeed wildly without them.
(Yes, I know the picture is of brass bells. But sorry, I am not going to sully my nice blog design with a photo of trucknutz.)