Tebowing Your Way to Startup Success

Tebow Success
Tebow Success

I have found a new symbol for entrepreneurial attitude, and his name is Tim Tebow.

Now, Tebow would be nobody’s poster boy for unfettered success. As an athlete he has had his ups (University of Florida Gators), and his downs (every single thing he did as a quarterback in the NFL). And now his next chapter: taking the plunge into the Minor Leagues as an aspiring baseball player.

In a recent ESPN interview, Tebow was asked why he didn’t just stay in the NFL as a sometime-player, a limited guy who still got a (rather hefty) paycheck every week.

Here's how Tebow answered:

“I thought about it. More importantly for me I wanted to do something I wanted to do. That would be fun for me, a challenge for me. That’s why I chose to pick up a baseball bat.

At a certain point, it’s not about what other people want you to do, it’s about what you want to do. It’s your life, not everybody else’s life. I could go play football at another position, but why settle? Life isn’t about settling, life is about striving.”

And for an entrepreneur, that’s the key. Independence. Striving. The quest to find something you love and can do incandescently well.

When aspiring founders ask me for advice about starting companies, I preach the Social Starts version of Tebowism: Keep looking until you find something you absolutely love. Then, find a group of people you would absolutely love to work alongside. Grab those people, and do that thing.

Outcomes don’t matter. Outcomes are effects, not causes. An entrepreneur can’t control them. Certainly, big talent and hard work help in producing great outcomes; however, sometimes even hard work and big talent can’t do it. Luck is required, and probably more importantly, timing.

But when an entrepreneur takes the Tebowist approach, there can be no losing scenario. If an amazing outcome happens, great. The team can celebrate their success together, knowing they quite literally couldn’t have done it without one another.

And, if for whatever reason, an amazing outcome doesn’t happen, this founder and this team got to spend every day for years getting up and doing something they love alongside people they love. While this may not be classified as an "amazing outcome," it is still a win.

Finally, the focus on striving with joy and love may bring entrepreneurs, and Tebow, one enormous added benefit: when you're doing what you love with people you love, you are relaxed, happy, and confident. In that state of mind you are much more likely, as individuals and as a group, to do your best work. And therefore, by not focusing on outcomes, you make them most likely to happen.

When Tim Tebow graduated from college, he was saddled with Sisyphusian expectations. The Great White Hope. The Ultimate Winner. The football cognoscenti had declared him Oz Deluxe before he ever took the NFL field. The burden of those expectations, I believe, weighed Tebow down, made his coaches act weirdly toward his talent, and ultimately truncated his pro football career.

Now, all that is behind him. Now, he is doing something he loves and nobody expects anything from him. Maybe, this time, he’ll win.