The Entrepreneur’s Prayer

A well known prayer, originally authored by Reinhold Niebuhr, reads as follows:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer, with it’s insight to perspective on life’s challenges, has been used by various organizations looking to facilitate change, including Alcoholics Anonymous. I propose an alternative version, though, which I believe applies to entrepreneurs, and those looking to strike out on their own. At a fundamental level, it remains the same as the original version from Niebuhr:

God, grant me the patience
To accept the things which will not be changed;
Perseverance to change the things I can;
And perception to know the difference.

In business, there are those factors of life which will not be changed, or at least, not in the near future. As a business opportunity, therefore, such factors are generally to be avoided when trying to create a new product or service. Then again, there are some factors which are equally disruptive to the status quo, and yet the world is ready for them.

Perception can identify the difference between the two. Simply because a product or service falls outside the realm of the status quo does not mean that it cannot be successful. At the same time, there is a need to understand that the world is not ready for every new gadget to hit the shelves, and products have been known to fail simply because they were too far ahead of their time.

If you are looking at creating something new, there is a desire to create change (perhaps this can be understood in the expression game changing in which a strategy is making claims of creating new rules for its environment). However, this desire must be tempered by a vision of what the world is ready to accept – not everything or everyone wants to change. An entrepreneur needs to have that perception to be able to distinguish between what changes are waiting to happen, and act on them, and what changes they want to make, but should not lift a finger to assist them.