Like many Americans, I was taught that we lived in the land of opportunity. Our history teachers reminded us that people had flocked to our country because of the better life that awaited them here. It was a source of great pride.

At the same time we were learning those history lessons, we were also being groomed to get a job. No teacher or guidance counselor ever suggested that living in the land of opportunity also offered me the possibility of creating my own enterprise.

When my travels began to take me outside of the US, I quickly discovered that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and living everywhere, too.

It was an early Making a Living Without a Job seminar in London, however, that really made me aware that the entrepreneurial spirit knows no geographic boundaries. Participants arrived at that event from France, Denmark, and India as well as from the far corners of the UK.

So it comes as no surprise that on my recent trip to the UK I spent most of my time hanging out with some inspiring and creative entrepreneurial folks.

After my evening talk in London, I headed to Birmingham where I was met at the train station by the delightful Maggy Whitehouse, who also was my hostess for the night.

I met Maggy a decade ago when she attended a workshop I did in London on self-publishing. Although that was our only in-person contact, we’d stayed in touch over the years and I watched her writing and speaking career blossom.

My packed talk in Birmingham that night was another sign that there are plenty of people considering the Joyfully Jobless life. One man brought his 10-year-old daughter who has already shown interest in starting her own business.

Back in London the next night, I spent the evening with the Scanners Night group led by author and speaker John Williams. Once again, the audience was a mix of folks who were already self-employed and those wanting to be.

Because these self-proclaimed scanners have diverse interests, my talk that night was called Multiple Passions, Multiple Profits. I talked about creating a personal portfolio that incorporated their varied activities.

The following day, I spent the morning hanging out with Eve Menezes Cunningham, a freelance writer (among other things) who had interviewed me several years ago for the first article she had published. Since that time, she’s also included me in some other wonderful pieces she written.

Eve and I were joined by the vivacious Marianne Cantwell, the founder of Free Range Humans and about-to-be author. Originally from Australia, Marianne has been traveling the world since leaving her cubicle several years ago. When we discovered that we’d both be in London at the same time, we promptly planned to get together.

Unfortunately, I was in a fair amount of distress because of a most unpleasant experience I was having with my accomodations. Marianne swung into action and began looking for a new place for me to lay my head.

She enlisted John Williams’ aid in the search and thanks to AirBnB, I was headed to a lovely home in Fulham where I spent the rest of my time in the UK.

To my delight, my new hostess, Debbie Cave, is a woman who understands mutllple profit centers herself. In addition to having paying guests in her home, Debbie also runs her own public relations and marketing company.

After a good night’s sleep in my tranquil new room, I woke up excited about how I was planning to spend my last free day In London. Consultant Mary Phillips, whom I first met when she attended a seminar in the Lake District, was coming in from Bradford and we had plans to meet for lunch.

Since we both knew how to find the Whole Foods store, we had decided to connect there and have lunch. I passed by the store, but had never been inside.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped into the three-story market which was unlike any Whole Foods store I’d ever visited before. You can buy groceries there, of course, but since the entire second floor is devoted to a restaurant and food stations serving exotic smoothies, gelato, salads and more.

Since Mary and I hadn’t seen one another since my last London visit, we settled in for lunch and a catch-up chat. Five hours later, we tore ourselves away from the Whole Foods experience.

As I headed back to Fulham on the Tube, I realized that my week had not allowed for any touristy activities, but connecting with all these creative friends, old and new, had made this one of the richest visits ever.

Obviously, the land of opportunity isn’t a land after all. It’s a state of mind.

 

My friend Maureen Thomson sent me a terrific blog post called Stop Crying That There Are No Jobs. Create One. The title is a little misleading, however.

The real gist of the piece by Paula Pant is that there’s a difference between employee and entrepreneurial mindsets. She illustrated that disparity beautifully.

When we start a business, most of us bring along some invisible baggage—a well-conditioned employee mindset. Until we start thinking and acting like an entrepreneur, success will keep a safe distance.

In the interest of speeding up the process of operating from an entrepreneurial perspective, here are some of my favorite jumpstarts for your entrepreneurial spirit. (You’ll notice that none of these are passive activities.)

° Go to the library. Whenever I’m in a slump, a trip to the library never fails to get me unstuck. Every shelf is loaded with possibility.

° Stop what you’re doing and track down the Fall 2011 issue of Yes! magazine. The theme is New Livlihoods and the stories are fabulously inspiring.

° Interview self-bossers. Choose the Joyfully Jobless, not just the self-employed. Let their passion rub off on you.

° Pay attention. Listen to the compliments that come your way. They may hold the key to a profit center. Listen to what people say is missing in the world for more clues.

° Play every day. Even if you aren’t yet running a business full-time, do something—no matter how small—to move yourself ahead each and every day.

° Break your goals into 90-Day Projects. Not only does this help you become clearer about where you are now and what needs to be done next, you’ll eliminate the overwhelm that often accompanies a big goal or a longterm project.

° Give your projects a theme. I’m a nag about this one because it makes such a huge difference. A theme helps you focus your mind and sparks creative thoughts.

° Pick an entrepreneurial hero or heroine and become an expert on their life.

° Carry a notebook. You never know when a great idea will strike or when you’ll see something worth remembering. Richard Branson carries one at all times. So should you

° Read a novel. Not just any old story, however. Read novels that feature entrepreneurs as main characters. Mysteries, especially, feature them. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn.

° Have regular tune-ups. One seminar does not finish the learning process. Go back to the well as often as possible.

° Immerse, don’t dabble. Even if you have multiple passions and diverse business activities, know your priorities and pursue them with wild abandon.

° Acquire good tools. Use the best tools you can afford to do the best work you are capable of.

° Create an inspiring working environment. Your office or studio should be a place that welcomes you.

° Subscribe to Winning Ways. Read what successful entrepreneurs read. It’s an on-going reminder that you mean business and are always on the lookout for ideas and resources that can move you ahead.

° Put the odds in your favor. Memorize these five steps on How To Build Your Own Luck

1. Get a hobby. Find the thing that fascinates you most. You’ll recognize it instantly. It’s the thing you feel you have to do every day or the day is wasted.

2. Obsess. Get to know it so well nothing about it is unpredictable, including its ability to surprise you. This part of the process wile take approximately one lifetime.

3. Charge for it. If you’re so crazy about it and so good at it, go pro!

4. Flourish. If you’ve followed steps one, two and three, this is the easy part.

5. Succeed. Do it so wildly that everyone tells you how lucky you are.

 

The other day one of my Twitter friends posted a message that said, “Listening to two 50-year-old men complaining about their boss Never want that to be me.” I’ve eavesdropped on those kinds of conversations myself and am always reminded that such grumbling would never happen in a chat with my joyfully jobless friends. 

It’s not just conversation that’s different, of course. Entrepreneurs develop a different mindset. So why was I perturbed when I saw another Twitter post that said, “EMPLOYEE MINDSET=accept what you can’t change. CEO MINDSET=change what you can’t accept”? For starters, CEOs are often not true entrepreneurs. They are, however, the chief perpetrators of the employee mindset. 

Unfortunately, most of us have had far more training on how to behave like an employee than on how to behave like an entrepreneur. Even after we make the transition to self-employment, that old thinking– which may have served us well when we worked for someone else–follows us into our own enterprise. When that happens, it can wreak havoc with our best and brightest dreams. 

Often, employee thinking is sneaky companion. Take the oh-so-emotional area of money. If we spent years justifying staying too long in a bad job by convincing ourselves that the money compensated for our misery, we may have a hard time accepting money for doing something we find deeply pleasurable. 

As Paul Hawken warns us, “Owning a business and working for one are as different as chalk and cheese.” The good news is you can learn Entrepreneurial Thinking and put it to work building the business of your dreams. While it does require effort, it’s easier than learning a new language or Texas Hold ‘em. 

One of the best ways I know to accelerate that process is by spending a day in my What Would an Entrepreneur Do? seminar. (The next one is happening on June 19 in Madison, WI). 

Even if you’re thousands of miles away from Madison, you can consciously build an Entrpreneurial mindset. Make an effort to listen and learn from the successful. Follow successfully self-employed people on Twitter or Facebook and notice what they find important enough to pass along. You’ll start noticing inspiring quotes, interesting articles, success stories about other entrepreneurs. Soak it up. 

Hop over to my book page and you’ll find several great reads written by entrpreneurial thinkers. There’s Lynda Resnick’s Rubies in the Orchard, Anita Roddick’s Business as Unusual, Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner’s Shameless Exploitation: In Pursuit of the Common Good.

However you choose to build your  entrepreneurial mindset, don’t wait. Initiate. That’s what an entrepreneur would do.