January 27, 2023


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“If you go deeper inside, do you find a deep and passionate desire to obtain a penny of resolve from the Northern Region and the Alliance?”

Christmas wish

Do you honestly think that a lifestyle of overwork and pornography, with Gary Vee as philosophical guiding star, is something you aspire to? “Mimicry” desire destroys the entrepreneurial environment, says Jacob Mursch, and leads many entrepreneurs astray.

Dear entrepreneur – what do you want?

You will likely be asked this question over and over in the days before Christmas. The expected response is some tools you don’t need (Oura’s new ring, perhaps?). You know the drill.

I’d like to challenge you to take the question a few notches more seriously. Forget Christmas gifts – what do you really want? And not least – where do those wishes come from?

Strange question for sure. To help you answer that question, I’d like to invite you to a place that rarely gets column space in a shifter – to the ideas of the eminent French philosopher René Girard.

Gerard is the man behind a theory called “mimetic desire,” or mimetic desire in Good Norwegian. It is simply saying that we humans are social apes who learn through imitation, by imitating each other. It may seem counterintuitive, until you hit it to the limit: We not only mimic other people’s behavior, but we also mimic each other’s desires, dreams, and desires.

This means that most of what you wish and dream about does not actually come from within you. You unconsciously copied other people’s dreams and ideals. You desire what others desire, because they desire it.

The most obvious examples of this come from luxury brands. Don’t jump on a Rolex to tell what time it is. You are ready for that Rolex Because the successful people you subconsciously want to imitate use Rolex. By wearing the watch, you become more like them.

Obviously, the luxury goods industry is built on simulated desire. But what does this have to do with you as an entrepreneur, you might say? You who defied social norms and social norms, you who bravely took a step into the unknown to start something yourself – you are clearly not motivated to imitate others?

Well… not so fast. My claim is that simulated desire destroys the entrepreneurial environment, and unfortunately it leads many entrepreneurs astray.

Think about it for a moment. Are you really eager to lead a company that is growing exponentially and unrestrained, or is it an ideal that you have borrowed from someone else?

If you dig deep within yourself… do you find a deep, passionate desire to collect a penny of grit from the Northern Region and the Alliance? Or could this be something you subconsciously picked up on from others in the entrepreneurial community, because it gives prestige and credibility to the coffee shop at Mish?

Do you honestly think that a lifestyle of overwork and pornography, with Gary Vee as philosophical guiding star, is something you aspire to? Or do you just copy the other hooded characters who sit hunched over the laptop until the cleaning lady in the co-working space kicks them out at closing time in Draw 23?

For all I know, a life of cartoonish entrepreneurship is exactly the life you genuinely want to live. In that case, my advice is simple: keep driving. you did.

But if you, like many others, have uncritically adopted a set of ideals that don’t really suit you, stop and think again.

As an entrepreneur, you possess the skills and tools that can be used to design your own life to a degree that most non-entrepreneurs can only dream of. I would encourage you to use them to create a company that is truly right for you and what you want deep down. It is not certain that this company has unicorn potential, or will have a column in Shifter every two weeks, or will win entrepreneurship awards given by very unentrepreneurship consulting firms. But that’s totally fine.

Don’t waste your talents chasing other people’s dreams and ideals. Ask why you do what you do, why you want what you want. You may not really want what you think you want at all.

The Christmas season is an excellent opportunity to pause, reflect, and set the course for the year ahead. I hope you have the courage to navigate by the guiding stars and the ideals and dreams you choose for yourself sincerely, and not just those that are easy to imitate from others. The desire to imitate quickly turns into an imitation problem.

(PS: Hoping to learn more about the desire to imitate? Take Luke Burgess’ “Desire” with you for Christmas. It’s absurdly good.)

(This log was originally written for the newsletter Jacob’s Journal).

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