Jonathon Livingston Seagull and Being Different

I just finished reading Jonathon Livingston Seagull and my mind can’t stop racing. If you’re an entrepreneur and need a motivational kick in the pants, read this book (90 short pages). Author Richard Bach will make you draw parallels between yourself and a seagull.

There’s a core message in the book rings true for every entrepreneur; At times, we feel like we’re an outcast among a flock that shares a different perspective on life than our own. A common reaction to being an outcast, or just fundamentally “different,” is to feel alone and isolated.

I hear and read about entrepreneurs feeling this way all the time. I feel it on a regular basis. Some would call me odd in the sense that I’d rather work on something I’m passionate about any day/night of the week than go out and party.

Don’t get me wrong, I like human interaction and need it in my life. But when feeling inspired, I couldn’t care less about social pressures (e.g. lack of FOMO).

The same feelings can arise once you hit the inevitable Trough of Sorrow. This seems to be the point where naysayers are most vocal, and feelings of isolation reach their heights.

Seagulls and Entrepreneurs

In Jonathon Livingston Seagull, the main character (Jonathon) would rather perfect the art of speed flying than hang around ordinary seagulls in his flock. Everyone else in the flock “flies to live,” just going airborne to get to their next meal, but Jonathon “lives to fly.” He spends nearly every waking hour pushing the boundaries of flight. Jonathon is eventually deemed an outcast for his “different” behavior and sent into exile, but it soon turns out that perfecting the art of flight has life altering benefits.

Think about successful entrepreneurs you’ve read about or know. The classic duo, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, are the first that come to mind for me. Gates is a socially awkward genius. Some even claim he has Asperger’s Disease. As far as Jobs, I recently read his biography and can say that he was one of the strangest, often maniacal (but brilliant) people you’ve ever heard about. Both are as “different” as they come.

There’s a deep rooted human belief that different is negative, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Logically, we know being different is a must for any successful entrepreneur. Sometimes it’s hard to convince yourself this is true when you’re in the moment.

A Remedy

A great remedy is surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs and startup folks. This can be your own team, all of whom are in the same boat. If you work remote, try a co-working space. You’ll meet people who are all living the same roller coaster that you are. I work out of Coloft in Santa Monica. Joining was one of the best decisions I’ve made since moving to LA.

If that doesn’t work, or even if it does, pick up a copy of Jonathon Livingston Seagull and let me know what you think after reading it.

  • Carrie

    Thanks Michael. You’ve convinced me! Can’t wait to read the book.