Moses, Death and the Entrepreneur’s Journey

by Ouida on March 14, 2008

Well it finally happened…you have gone into business for yourself. Did you get tired of losing a third or more of your employment wages to the IRS? Did you wake up to the reality that you could do “it” better than your boss? Did you develop a better product that will change people’s lives? Did you decide you wanted the freedom of making and profiting from your own decisions? Did you decide you simply wanted to leave your mark upon the world?

Whatever motivated you to do it, you set foot on the first brick of the road that will become a lifelong journey. Many people equate the entrepreneurial journey as a journey from slavery to freedom.

What will happen to you on that journey?

Just as “Moses, Business and the 80/20 Rule” discussed how the Book of Numbers illustrates the Prieto Principle; The book of Numbers 13 and 14 also illustrates the entrepreneur’s journey. Yes, the story is over 5000 years old; yet, in speaking with entrepreneurs today its principles apply and are as fresh as if the story was written yesterday.

Let’s look at the summary of events that brings us to the book of Numbers. The Nation of Israel, laboring under the burden of slavery in Egypt cried out for freedom. They were freed in the most miraculous of ways: 10 plagues were visited upon the Nation of Egypt and when the Israelites were freed they were led, on dry ground, through the Red Sea. A pillar of cloud accompanied them by day and a pillar of fire by night. Their sandals never wore out and they ate manna from heaven.

Yet, when it came time to secure their freedom and take the land promised to them, they were not ready.

After an arduous journey through the desert, the Israelites arrived at the borders of the Promised Land. Finding it already occupied, Moses sent an exploration party, a representative from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, to explore the land and bring back a report. Two brought a positive report and recommended taking possession of the land. Ten of the party members brought a negative report: the land flowed with milk and honey but the current occupants were powerful and their cities were large. They recommended retreat.

Here is what happened next from Numbers 14 NIV: “‘That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” 10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.

20 The LORD replied…21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times- 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea. [a]” 26 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 27 29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall-every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.

30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32 But you-your bodies will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 For forty years-one year for each of the forty days you explored the land 36 So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it- 37 these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the LORD. 38 Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.'”

What lessons can we learn from this?

1) Many people want freedom but few attain it. The reason for this can be summed up into one word: Uncertainty. The road to freedom requires that one learn to live with uncertainty. From our story, the 40-day journey across the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land was fraught with uncertainty. Uncertainty about the proper direction, the existence of God, the source of food; The inability of the Israelites to deal with that uncertainty led to needless delays and strife. When they finally did reach the promised land, their uncertainty of success caused them to retreat. Uncertainty, that bugaboo of progress. Will stop men in their tracks.

2) The person who makes the decision to journey forward is not the person who will complete the journey. The passage clearly says that Caleb had a different spirit than the majority of the congregation. He and Joshua were the only 2 of their generation who would enter the Promised Land. Developing that different spirit is the subject of the third and final article in this series: The Path to Developing A Different Spirit.

3) There is a certain death required to enter the Promised Land. That death may not be a physical death, but it is a death of old ideas, behaviors and beliefs. The message is quite clear here that unless that death occurs, there will be no entry into the Promised Land.

4) The road to freedom may be paved but it is not trouble free. The Israelites found the Promised Land occupied and realized that they would have to fight to attain what they had cried out for. The road to freedom demands that one be prepared to fight. Without that preparation slavery may appear preferable to freedom.

5) Following and remembering the signs are key. Every entrepreneur will remember moments of synchronicity when it seemed as though all was right with the world. The right contacts were made at the right time business boomed and then something happened. The savvy entrepreneur will remember what lay before as an indicator of what lies ahead. But most will not.

The journey of the entrepreneur is a journey of the spirit and the journey is exacting and uncompromising; yet it need not be a surprise. History as now as always provides clear signposts for the adventurer willing to set foot on the path to freedom.

Like most people I went to school to get an education and learn a profession. When I graduated and began working, I realized something was very wrong. The path that I thought would lead me to freedom was instead leading me into quicksand. I got out of the quicksand when I joined the Free Agent Nation.

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