Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Keep earning your title, or it expires

Until yesterday, I called myself an entrepreneur. Today I erased it from the top of every page on my site.

It’s been years since I started a company, so I can’t keep using that title.

Someone who played football in high school can’t call himself an athlete forever. Someone who did something successful long ago can’t keep calling himself a success.

You have to keep earning it.

Holding on to an old title gives you satisfaction without action. But success comes from doing, not declaring.

By using a title without still doing the work, you fool yourself into thinking future success is assured. (“This is who I am!”) That premature sense of satisfaction can keep you from doing the hard work necessary.

Stop fooling yourself. Be honest about what’s past and what’s present. Expiring old titles lets you admit what you’re really doing now.

And if you don't like the idea of losing your title, then do something about it! This goes for titles like “good friend”, “leader”, or “risk-taker”, too.

I updated my home page to reflect what accomplishments are in the past. It’s liberating to speak in past-tense about what’s passed, and only speak in present-tense about what’s actually present.

I do plan to start another company some day. And when I do, I will have earned the “entrepreneur” title again.

Photo by Kermit Frosch