What do entrepreneurs, sports, and Native American Indians have in common?

Written By Gary Spirer Published October 17th, 2009

I know it may sound crazy at this point in my life, but I’ve been pondering what it is that gets me up in the morning totally excited.

So, I started to think about lots of things. I remembered the story that Joseph Campbell, the famous writer on mythology, wrote about his life. He said looking back over all his accomplishments, the one he was most proud of was the track race he won while at Columbia University.

I had a similar feeling. It was the grand slam home run that I hit 423 feet at Mickey Owen’s Baseball School in Miller, Missouri when I was 14 years old. After that, 10 major league teams invited me for tryouts including the Mets and Yankees.

Sometimes, you spend your whole life trying to re-live that feeling of flow and excitement. When I was growing up, what excited me was sports and Native American Indians.

Ironically, Joseph Campbell “as a child became fascinated with Native American Indians after his father took him to see the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He became versed in numerous aspects of Native American society primarily Native American mythology,”

“This led to his lifelong passion for myth and to his study of a mapping of the cohesive threads in mythology that appeared to exist among even disparate cultures.” (source: Wikipedia)

What do sports and Native American Indians have in common?

For me, it is a sense of primal abandonment. In reading about the American Indian, I loved the stretches of land, the elements, the hunt, the initiations, the challenges to come of age, the sense of belonging to a tribe, and what it meant to be a warrior – especially a chief – to protect their own.

In sports there is the same feeling of belonging to a tribe or team; fighting the elements; pushing one’s self to the limit to excel; competing; cooperating; rallying from the jaws of defeat to the heights of victory.

For me, being an entrepreneur and writer was and is the closest thing I could find to being a Native American or athlete. Both require, like Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, going into the uncharted forest or wilderness and fighting the demons and dragons to come out on the other side of the mountain. Here, you discover the secrets to life – the Holy Grail – and return to society with these secrets to promote healing.

Being an entrepreneur is like going into the wilderness or Wild West. In the Wild West of the entrepreneur, there is always new territory to discover, explore and conquer. There’s always the next fastest draw in town. There are clans and tribes, land grabs, courage, greed and new rules and laws made on the fly.

This is what America was founded upon – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I wondered if my current passion for entrepreneurship was a desire to return to a spirit that seemed so much purer when I grew up. Then, Americans seemed leaner, prouder, stronger in resolve. They looked less for government handouts. They were ready to work hard to earn their way.

Now, it seems if you tell someone they have to work hard to create wealth or to achieve the goal they desire, you will be turned out for the more appealing “the lazy man’s way to riches” or “in 60 days, you will be earning $5,000, even $10,000 just by following my easy, simple system that costs a mere $19.99 per month and my money back 100% guarantee. Plus, I will throw in my super duper never-before-revealed 10 secrets to no money down, no effort, no brains required method…blah, blah, blah.”

No wonder I kept wondering what will get me up in the morning.

Then I knew.

It was trying to actually start a real dialogue and exchange of ideas and works that did not insult people’s intelligence. It was worrying less about being perfect. It was just doing it and going for it with a sense of that primal abandonment that I felt growing up. It was getting up in the morning and going outside and connecting with nature.

With all the instant communication so available, I find many people are lost and searching for belonging. It is my belief they suffer from loneliness and aloneness – something I encounter myself when I try to be something I am not. As Victor Frankl wrote in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” people are depressed because they lose the inner spirit or flame – they lose the sense of hope. Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, believed that more than avoidance of pain or seeking of pleasure, man sought meaning to fulfill his life. Without purpose and ultimately meaning, we are empty no matter how much money or achievements we have.

In sports, myths and Native American Indians, you see the essence of the human drama played out.

At our best, we are spirited, funny, game-loving, comforting, courageous, opportunity-seeking, innovative, resilient and resourceful. In other words, we are all entrepreneurs in life, work and business.

So, I realized it is my desire to spread the best of what makes us human – being entrepreneurial and loving. This brings me (and hopefully you in recognizing your unique entrepreneurial talents and skills) the happiness, purpose and meaning to jump out of bed and make the most of each second of our lives.

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