Is Your Personal Identity Wrecking Your Life Dreams?

My Name Is Ross Brown, and I’m an Entrepreneur


Photo by Thomas Hawk

My father is an entrepreneur and owns a small manufacturing business, so I’ve been around entrepreneurship and business my entire life. I studied economics and business management in college, and I now serve as Vice President at my father’s company (a position I’ve held since 2007). Living in the intersection between entrepreneurship and business my entire life, I never really considered the differences between the terms – or how failing to recognize the differences might have the power to passively wreck my life dreams – in my first 31 trips around the sun.

That changed in late 2015. I’m not big on New Years resolutions, but I’ve had one overarching career goal for 2016: to quit thinking of myself as a businessman and start thinking of myself as an entrepreneur. But as I’ve seen in my life, there is much overlap between the worlds, so what’s the big deal? Is 2016 just my year to split hairs?

Not at all.

The big deal is that I have life dreams that have nothing to do with my father’s company. I greatly enjoy my work as VP — I’m all about lean manufacturing, databases, process creation and infrastructure improvement. But I’m also passionate about the business of hashing out ideas. Economics. Liberty. Writing. Podcasting. Connecting with people who are “doing their thing” in life. Some of my life dreams don’t fit the mold of manufacturing. It’s not that they’re better — they’re just different.

The big deal is that I’m nearly 10 years outside of college – and many of my life dreams remain nothing more than dreams. And while there’s no guarantee that any of my dreams will ever come true, there is one way to guarantee that they won’t: If I fail to exercise personal initiative to pursue my dreams with my time, energy, and resources, my dreams will never come to fruition.

The big deal is that my dreams will never be fulfilled by a businessman. They’ll only be fulfilled by an entrepreneur – because entrepreneurs own themselves and their time differently from businessmen and women. Entrepreneurs possess an element of personal autonomy that businessmen and women lack. And it’s that element of personal autonomy that empowers entrepreneurs to dedicate their time, energy, and resources to create new ventures – and “do their thing” – without guilt.

Someday I Will…

Everybody has the thought in the back of their mind about something. “Someday I will… [fill in the blank]”. Write a book. Get in shape. Go back to school. Start a business. Do your thing.

Here’s a gut check for you. The only 100% accurate way to fill in the blank is to say, “Someday I will… be dead.” So if it’s your desire to fill in the blank with something less grim while you’re still upright and sucking air, it’s time to get started — today.

And here’s the good news: You can start right now. This instant. Yes, literally before you’re done reading this post – because the first step towards doing your thing in life is to choose the right personal identity.

The first step towards 'doing your thing' in life is to choose the right personal identity. Click To Tweet

Kimberly Zahasky, founder of The Professional Optimistconsistently observes the necessity of this first step. As she explains in Episode 15 of The Do Your Thing Podcast, “if [a person] thinks, ‘I’m not a healthy person,’ – if they have that idea in their mind of who they are, they’re not going to be able to make that [healthy lifestyle] change. Because it’s part of their identity… Their behaviors directly come from who they see themselves to be.”

That’s right. You act in accordance to your personal identity. So if your actions (how you spend your time, energy, or resources) don’t align with your life dreams, quit stressing out about it. Instead, just change who you see yourself to be — your personal identity. Then sit back and watch as your actions seem to magically fall in line with your life goals. That’s the power of exercising personal initiative to deliberately choose an identity.

My Life as an Entrepreneur

Speaking from my personal experience in 2016, I know that the power is real. Here are a few ways my life has changed since I’ve started identifying as an entrepreneur instead of a businessman:

  • I have a complete sense of time ownership. I choose to spend my time however I wish. I dedicate much of it towards LTP, but I happily choose to spend it elsewhere as well. I spend time with family, at my father’s business (with my VP hat on), in bed asleep, even watching Netflix a few times each week. The point is that because I’m an entrepreneur, I retain the power of choice as it relates to my time.
  • I now dedicate Tuesdays, Fridays, and much of Saturdays to LTP every week. I’ve streamlined my VP responsibilities in the last 9+ years so that I can be away for two days each week and production doesn’t miss a beat. (Just as important, of course, is the fact that our team members are awesome human beings who do great work!) The change up in my work schedule has taken a little getting used to, but I’ve never once felt guilty about it – because I’m an entrepreneur.
  • I’ve discovered greater permission to invest in myself. I’ve attended valuable business luncheons and networking events. I’ve joined Michael Hyatt’s Platform University. Because I’m an entrepreneur, I place greater value on seeking out opportunities to learn and grow – which require real investments of my time, energy, and resources.
  • With the help of my desk treadmill, I walk while I write and complete other tasks for LTP. I’m now walking 12 to 14 additional miles each week because I’m an entrepreneur. And it feels great!
  • The sense of control I’ve gained over my time has spilled over into other areas of my life, including my diet. Because I’m an entrepreneur, I’m eating healthier.

Let’s Talk About You!

I’ve experienced other positive life changes as well, but enough about me. What about you? What’s your identity? Does it align with your life goals?

If you’re not sure, ask yourself this question: are you progressing towards your life goals in real ways? If the answer to that question is no, then you have two options: 1) forgo your dreams, or 2) rethink your personal identity.

Your identity might need a massive overhaul, or – like mine – it might need just a little tweaking. But whatever the case, never overlook the importance of this first step. Because your personal identity is the fundamental difference between “doing your thing” and “dreaming your thing.”

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Have you gone through a personal identity change? How has the change impacted your pursuit of your life dreams? What advice to you have for others who might fear making the change?

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Ross Brown
President at LTP
I'm a 2007 Luther College grad trying to make the most out of every day. I enjoy spending time with my family, charcoal grilling, downhill skiing, double IPAs, fine scotch, going to church, jogging, Texas Holdem, fishing, reading, and watching the Green Bay Packers dominate the NFL.

I'm passionate about passion. Whatever you're passionate about, go do it!