The other day, I had a strategic planning session with a business partner. We spent a few hours refining and finalizing our 2020 business plan and goals. Afterward, I ran into an old friend whom I had not seen in many years. We decided to have a conversation over a cup of coffee in Washington and catch up on the last 10 years or so. I asked him, “What are you doing these days?” He replied with a smile, “I’m a struggling musician.”

That struck me as odd, and not because he is an accountant by education. I’m sure more than one accountant is musically inclined, but in all our years, I have never known him to play an instrument. So, naturally, I said, “Wow, I didn’t even know you played an instrument.”

His reply got my attention: “I don’t play an instrument, that’s why I’m struggling.

“Wait ... what?” My curiosity piqued, I asked, “Why would you choose to become a musician without knowing how to play an instrument?” His answer told me everything that I need to know about being an entrepreneur.

Rolling his eyes as if slightly annoyed, he replied, “Because I love music.”

Just because you love something doesn’t mean you can make a living doing it. It’s a perfect place to start, but there’s so much more to this story. You must learn a craft, develop the necessary skill set, and put in the hours of work required to perform at a high level. You may fail often along the way. You may get knocked down, but you have stand up again ... as many times as it takes.

Loving what you do is critical, but passion and enthusiasm will carry you only so far. You must demand more of yourself than anyone else ever could. We can talk another day about the stress of 80-hour work weeks, packed schedules, endless meetings, overflowing inboxes, unrealistic deadlines and bringing our work home with us. Grit and determination are at the core of successful entrepreneurial ventures, squinting at your goals through blood, sweat and tears to stay focused.

This is true in any profession, and every aspect of your life. You begin with love and learn your way forward from there. If you love the pursuit of knowledge, learn everything and teach. If you love the human experience, learn medicine and heal. If you love math and science, learn engineering and build.

We are standing in the most amazing time in human history, where any one of us with passion and enthusiasm has the knowledge of the world at our fingertips.

In short, we can become anything we dream. So, dream big, reach for the sky and let go of your kite strings. Love ignites your passion, knowledge fuels your enthusiasm and hard work brings it to life. Be the bloodied and battered music lover who is an instrumental virtuoso and share your love with the world.

Jamie Protin is founder and principal of The Protin Group in Belle Vernon.

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