Entrepreneur's Weekly Nietzsche : A Book for Disruptors (9781544521398) by Jilk Dave; Feld Brad

Entrepreneur's Weekly Nietzsche : A Book for Disruptors (9781544521398) by Jilk Dave; Feld Brad

Author:Jilk, Dave; Feld, Brad
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Bookbaby
Published: 2021-05-09T16:00:00+00:00


“What is Genius?—To aspire to a lofty aim and to will the means to that aim.”

In other words: “Genius” means to establish a challenging goal and do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.

In this chapter, we will begin by engaging briefly in etymology (the history and meaning of a word). Bear with us: the potential payoff is gaining a deeper understanding of the significance of your entrepreneurial striving.

In contemporary usage and in Nietzsche’s time, the word “genius” primarily refers to someone who has superior abilities, whether intellectual, creative, or interpersonal, or to work products that purportedly reflect such abilities. It usually carries the connotation that these abilities are not explainable and are probably innate. This connotation comes from the original Latin, where it shares a common root with the word “genie,” which is a spirit that guides the individual.

In opposition to this sense of the word, some have asserted with pithy phrasing that what people call “genius” is really just hard work (e.g., Thomas Edison’s “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”) or persistence (e.g., the late 19th-century proverb “genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains”). Some recent research bears this out, and the phenomenon of epiphany (an “Aha! moment”) often follows intense effort and concentration on a problem.

Nietzsche’s definition combines and augments these perspectives in a novel way. He adds the notion of a goal, along with the “will” or drive to achieve it. He recognizes that one cannot work hard and persist without motivation. From his perspective, the will is the source of that motivation and is therefore primary; hard work and persistence are secondary and implicit. Yet the will itself has no explanation, like the genie of the Latin root. Thus in Nietzsche, there is still an unexplained ability, but it relates to motivation, not skills.

What does any of this have to do with your business? Nietzsche’s definition of genius sounds like a pretty good start on a definition of entrepreneurship. One could distill the essence of entrepreneurship down to: establish a challenging goal and do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. To distinguish it from other endeavors, like art and science, we should add that the goal is instrumental—that it has a practical benefit in the world. Entrepreneurial goals involve building and deploying better mousetraps, whether the mousetrap is a physical device, manufacturing process, organizational structure, philanthropic innovation, distribution system, or the virtualization of any of these. Putting all this together, one could describe entrepreneurship as instrumental genius.

This goes to the core of what it means to be an entrepreneur and a free spirit. It applies to your entire team, not just to you. You already know that you and your team are something special and that by starting and building your business you are doing something unusual and important. But social and organizational demands for humility require you to downplay this knowledge. Nietzsche’s angle on genius, and our adaptation of it to entrepreneurship, offers a new way to think and


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