You might be an entrepreneur if…you’ve at least considered asking your life insurance agent whether the policy you just took out is still valid if you commit suicide. You know, Jimmy Stewart syndrome.
Ok, first of all, I’m not suicidal. Man, everyone takes things so seriously these days. That’s why I put the line in there referencing It’s a Wonderful Life. Speaking of which, I’ve got a Jimmy Stewart story I’ll tell at the end of this post.
So we’ve established that I’m not suicidal. But apparently I have ADD. The funny thing is I didn’t know this until recently. Over the past several years I’ve researched, read about, and talked to a lot of entrepreneurs. A common thread I’ve found is that many of them claim to have ADD. David Neeleman says it so much that it has become something of a badge of honor or a more advanced trait of humankind. Kind of like being a mutant in X-Men. I talked to so many entrepreneurs who said they had ADD and seemed to be bragging about it that I started getting depres…that is, I started feeling left out because I wasn’t part of the ADD crowd.
But then I happened to be talking with my parents and they said “Did you know you were diagnosed with ADD in second grade?”
Turns out I was diagnosed, but my parents didn’t want me on medication and they didn’t want me to feel stigmatized so they never gave me anything for it and never told me about it until I was almost 30. I guess the doctor had concerns about giving me medication as well because while I had ADD I was pretty mellow as opposed to being hyper, and he was afraid the medication, rather than just calming me down, would put me to sleep whenever I took it.
I’m not sure why a lot of entrepreneurs appear to have ADD, or if it’s true that entrepreneurs have ADD in any greater numbers than normal people, but now I feel like I truly belong. Now why did I bring this up…? Oh yeah, I think one of the benefits of having ADD could possibly be increased creativity.
To me, creativity is the ability to connect seemingly unrelated concepts or ideas. From my experience, if I really do have ADD, then the way it seems to work is that my head is often filled with all sorts of bits of information at once, and I’m easily distracted and sometimes have trouble focusing for very long. Somebody can be talking to me and before they’ve said ten words I’ve already gone through ten distinct thoughts, the chain of which was prompted by the first few words they said but the end result of which has ten degrees of separation from the first thought. In some ways this is a challenge I have to overcome to get certain things done, like understanding what somebody is saying to me, but there’s a side of it that I believe helps me be creative and come up with new ideas. Not just ideas for new businesses, but ideas for new ways to run the business I already have.
However, it also means I’ve got a lot of alternatives going through my head, and those alternatives aren’t always positive. MWI has a “key man” insurance policy on me. Since MWI would suffer if I died, MWI owns a policy that would enable whoever owns MWI in the case of my untimely demise, in this case my wife, to take care of any outstanding financial issues give them adequate time to decide whether they want to continue running MWI, sell it, or close it down. I hope my wife would run it if I die, because she’d probably do a better job. Seriously, if anyone is looking for a project manager, she’s one of the best I’ve seen.
And so when funds get tight at MWI the thought sometimes goes through my head “You know, there’s an easy way to make payroll this month, it just involves a little personal sacrifice…”
Of course it’s not a thought I take too seriously. The problem with suicide is it always ends up creating more problems than it solves, kind of like robbing banks. It can seem like a good idea, but when you realistically consider the consequences you realize it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Jimmy Stewart Story
Remember in It’s a Wonderful Life where everyone is dancing in that room and the floors split in the middle and slide to either side exposing a swimming pool and everybody falls in? That was filmed at Hollywood High School, and my grandfather happened to be the facilities manager or something when it was filmed. That wasn’t a set, that’s actually how the gym was built. You would play basketball on the floor, and if they were going to have a swim meet the floor would slide away to expose the floor.
So the film crews are there setting up and they’re putting all sorts of heavy equipment on the floor, which was built for people to run around on, not for heavy equipment to be put on. My grandfather started getting worried that the floor would break under the weight of the equipment and somebody could get hurt or killed. He voiced his concerns to various people with the film crew, but everybody snubbed him and waved him away as though he didn’t know what he was talking about.
Jimmy Stewart saw this going on and went over to my grandfather and asked him what was going on. My grandfather told him, and Jimmy Stewart listened carefully and then stopped the entire production to move all the equipment to a safer location.
Anyway, I’ve always felt like Jimmy Stewart was a genuinely nice guy who really cared because of that story that’s been passed down in my family.Liked it? Share it!