Twelve years ago, on September 11, 2001, our country was attacked on its own soil by a group of foreign terrorists. I can still remember everything about that day. I was a senior in high school and had just walked into my 4th period class, sociology and psychology. The TV was on when I got there and everyone was staring at it in disbelief. I asked my friend Adam what was going on and he said someone had just flown a plane into the World Trade Center. Our teacher, Mr. Garlough, told us there would be no class that day, we would be watching coverage of the events. He said we would remember everything about the day for the rest of our lives, just like our parents or grandparents did for events like JFK’s assassination and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As we were watching, a second plane flew into the World Trade Center, removing all doubt that it was a terrorist attack.
I also remember how in the days, weeks and months after the attack, the feeling of fear and sadness slowly turned into anger and resolve to make whoever did it pay. I remember how it was the only time in my life that everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, seemed you united. I remember how proud everyone was of the hero’s of that day, from the firefighters and police officers, to the passengers on the plane who fought back the terrorists and caused the plane to crash in an empty field instead of a building full of innocent people.
In honor of September 11, here are three lessons entrepreneurs can learn from 9/11 and the hero’s of that horrific day:
1. Success Draws Haters
The United States is the greatest country in the world. Because of this, we have haters. Among those haters were Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Their hatred of our freedoms and success caused them to fly planes into buildings, killing thousands of innocent people. But since our country is far superior to a group of evil terrorists, Bin Ladens body is now laying on the bottom of an ocean somewhere.
As a successful entrepreneur, you will also have haters. Luckily, the stakes won’t be nearly as high and the haters won’t be trying to cause physical harm to you. Instead, they will try to belittle your business with trolling comments on your website and bad reviews online. They will bad mouth you to family and friends and talk about how unrealistic your ideas are and how you don’t have enough experience to do what you are trying to do. Like Bin Laden, haters are ultimately identified and defeated.
Any time you have success, you will have haters. As long as you don’t let them keep you from doing what you need to do, they have no shot at winning, just like the al-Queda fools had no shot of defeating the United States.
2. How You Handle Adversity will Determine Your Future
If the United States were a lesser nation, 9/11 would have destroyed us. With the fear of another terrorist attack, our political parties would have fought over what the best solution was and our economy would have been shut down. Al-Qaeda’s main goal was dividing our nation. Instead, we showed what we were made of, uniting like never before with hero’s stepping up all over the place. We used the adversity of the attacks to create a country that is now safer than at any other time in our history.
You are going to face adversity in your business as well. It may come from a hater or it may come from situations outside of anyone’s control, such as the economy. These moments of adversity will likely define your business. Those able to overcome the adversity will likely go on to be even stronger. Those who give up during the adversity will never come close to realizing their potential and finding out what they are truly capable of.
Adversity will hit and how you handle it will determine the future of your business.
3. There are Much Bigger Risks in Life than Starting a Business
September 11, 2001 is a day filled with people risking much more than their finances. Firefighters, police officers, soldiers and citizens with no obligation to do so risked their lives in order to save the lives of complete strangers. While the natural reaction to seeing a building on fire and on the verge of crumbling down is to run as far and as fast as humanly possible, these unbelievably brave men and women went into the buildings looking for people to save. Many of these hero’s lost their lives trying to save people they had never met. Several young men and women continue to risk their lives today to protect us from future attacks.
One of the biggest myths of starting a business is that it is “risky”. That you could lose money if it fails. If you think losing a little bit of money is too big of a risk to take, I suggest you look at people who take real risks. People who in times of crisis run into the danger zone to help, instead of running away from it. People who go into the land of our biggest enemies in order to stop them from hurting any more innocent people. People who when faced with the choice of letting their hijacked plane crash into a building full of people or fighting the hijackers and crashing the plane into an empty field, respond simply with “let’s roll”, before saving thousands of innocent lives. People who risk their lives and fortunes to start a country, because they believe their rights are being violated.
There are people out there taking real risks so that you have the right to start your own business. Don’t let the perceived risk of entrepreneurship stop you.
Honoring this Day
On this day 12 years ago, we all got a first hand glimpse of what this country is made of. While we certainly have our flaws and are currently going through rough economic times, we showed on September 11, 2001, when push comes to shove, you don’t want to mess with us. In moments of adversity we will unite and destroy those who try to harm us.
There are a ton of lessons we can take from this tragic day, and we have the hero’s from this terrible event to thank for them.
Remember the hours after September 11th when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran upstairs and risked their lives so that others might live; when rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon; when the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s Capitol; when flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us. –Sen. John Kerry