As of late I’ve been on a sort of journey through the landscape of entrepreneurship. Being the little sea sponge that I happen to be, I’m absorbing every drop of educational, inspirational, and don’t give up yet preaching my ears and eyes come across, particularly around the subjects of psychology and business and where they meet.
One juicy little tidbit I graciously received recently was an introduction to the word Peripatetic. I was listening to Seth Godin’s Start Up School podcast (episode 4, I believe) on the way to work, when while talking about business structure he casually said something to the effect of, ‘unless you’re peripatetic and always need to be doing something different…’
Hearing this short phrase instantly beamed me up to a new level of self awareness – because it seemed Seth Godin had a word, possibly even a philosophy, that described me as I am and have always been. And if Seth Godin felt it was a word worth bringing to the room of entrepreneurs he was teaching that weekend, then it must be real and holy cow – it must mean there is a way to be ‘my way’ AND be successful. Talk about feeling enlightened.
The original Peripatetics were the disciples and students of Aristotle. Apparently because he wasn’t an Athenian and could hold no property, he and his students met in various places about town, and became Peripatetic, or, the ones who walk about. Dictionary.com defines it as constantly traveling or itinerant, and itinerant is defined as roaming. These are so the words that form my soul.
Seth Godin took the word to a new place of meaning, using it to describe people who have a need to constantly travel between types of work, and he encouraged peripatetics to build this personality trait into their businesses. Godin is a wise man, himself peripatetic, and has created a life where he can do once in a lifetime activities all the time – write a book this month, teach a workshop next month, record an album next year. He has found his personal formula for utilizing this socially antithetical part of his nature to contribute to the greater good while increasing his success.
In a society where our education system trains people from pre-kindergarten to become wage slaves (aka employees), people like me, a now self-professed peripatetic, have struggled to: 1. Stay employed AND enjoy life 2. Maintain financial security, much less financial wealth 3. Consistently contribute my skills and passion to something greater than myself.
What I’ve done really well as a peripatetic person is: 1. Have a lot of jobs all over the damn country 2. Whatever I want, whenever I want 3. Struggle for understanding and self acceptance.
I think somewhere deep down I’ve always known there has to be a way for me to do the many things I’m good at and love within a framework that requires frequent change. Seth Godin has really lit a fire under me and now not only do I think it’s someday possible, I feel supported by his encouragement and I BELIEVE it’s beginning to happen now (maybe one day I’ll get to give him a hug and thank him for it).
And while presently I’m working a low-wage customer service job while I plan my next move, I’ve owned my nature and talking to my boss about the Peripatetics has improved my work life. I now get more projects to work on, more responsibility, and a lot more multitasking. It’s keeping me sane AND benefiting the entire office because the way my brain functions and my ideal operating style has been not only recognized but accepted. Good employers do this, and trust me, I know how rare it is. But it’s good for them too, because I moved from the most annoyed/resentful employee to the most versatile and efficient one on the staff.
I’ve learned a lot of other good stuff for start-ups from Seth Godin too, and I actually just picked up his book Linchpin. I highly recommend listening if you have a bit of entrepreneur in you at all. My guess is that if you’re reading this, you’ve got the spark. Maybe you’re even peripatetic. Whether it’s personal or professional, whether you’re wearing suits or boots, chances are you can learn something everywhere. Enjoy the journey!