Reality: How to Persevere When Your Struggle Isn’t Instagrammable

Reality offered up by Mark Leruste

Think you have a good grip on reality? What if you were presented with the perception of yourself that you create on social media? For his TEDx talk, What they don’t tell you about entrepreneurship, Mark Leruste saunters onto stage and stops dead center.  He’s looking down at his phone.  As his thumbs race across the screen, the words he types appear on a march larger screen behind him:

“…about to give a killer talk…

…Next stop, Oprah!…


Next, he turns to take a selfie. That done, he finally addresses the people who are there to see him.  He makes an announcement to the audience: “My life is amazing.”

And the audience laughs.

The audience laughs because they recognize that Leruste is performing a caricature. This caricature is instantly recognizable.  It’s the confident, worldly and successful all-star that many of us – especially entrepreneurs – present to the world. We may feel that the success of our business depends on maintaining this perception.  

Call it putting your best foot forward, or “personal branding,” or “fake it until you make it,” your public persona is only a (very small) portion of your reality.  

Because of this disconnect between perception and reality, you can begin to experience imposter syndrome.  You may end up letting your dreams slip through your fingers because you couldn’t live up to the perception you created of someone already living their dreams.  

Important: You need to know that that perception is indeed a caricature.  In order to get a better grip on reality and move forward authentically, here are some points to be taken from Mark’s powerful presentation.

Reality: How To Persevere When Your Struggle Isn’t Instagrammable

Be vulnerable.

As Mark begins to let the caricature he used to get everyone’s attention fade, he laughs. He switches immediately into total honesty. Bravely, he admits that, as an entrepreneur, he has often felt lonely, worried and stressed beyond belief.  This award-winning fundraiser talks about isolating himself in his apartment, refusing to meet up with friends because he was afraid of expressing his anxieties about his business.  

Mark makes it clear that this is not the way to go. If you continue to hold up the mask, you will never get the support you need – from friends, family, or even potential business partners.  

Mark points out what he’s learned from countless  interviews on his podcast, The Unconventionalists:


“Doesn’t matter if you’re a one-man band

or a business with a thousand employees,

the resounding feeling is how tough the journey is,

and how lonely it can sometimes feel.”

– Mark Leruste

Break through that feeling by reaching out to others.  Odds are that you’ll find support and resources that you never knew were there. Odds are that you’ll help others take off their masks as well.

Remember your worth.

This is not a point taken directly from Mark’s talk, but it’s something that Mark would probably agree with wholeheartedly.  You aren’t An Entrepreneur every waking hour. You were someone before you were an entrepreneur, and you mean something regardless of whether or not you remain an entrepreneur.  Even now, as you build and grow your own business, the reality is that you are more than an entrepreneur.  We set up entrepreneurship as this lofty goal, as the be-all-and-end-all, but actually, there are several roles you play that matter.

Recognize other areas in your life where you are valued – as a mentor, a parent, a spouse, a citizen, a friend. Consider devoting a little more time to these areas of your life.  Whether your business is booming or not, it’s important to stay connected to friends, family, and community. You are an individual, not a company. You have an impact on individuals around you.  Even if you don’t think you do. Take a moment to appreciate your impact. Decide to devote yourself to making your impact something that enriches the lives of those around you, in every role that you play.    

Pursue your purpose.   

For nearly the entire second half of his talk, Mark talks about purpose, and how important it is. He sites psychology science when he says that “…having a sense of purpose gives you a much better chance of having a longer life.” No pressure, right?

Well, actually, exactly right. Mark reveals that, in putting so much weight on the idea that our purpose has to be larger-than-life, we miss the mark.  Or, we miss our purpose.

Reality is we all need a quest, according to Mark Leruste

While having big goals is rarely a drawback, if you find that your heart isn’t in it, it may be time for a reevaluation. To find your purpose, you must take it back a notch. What is purpose generally? Mark defines it in several ways. Quest. Curiosity. Questions you ask yourself in the shower.

Ever hear that comedy tagline Here’s your sign? Well, if there’s something you’re thinking about all the time, something that excites you and you can’t get enough of – here’s your sign.  No matter how scary or seemingly silly, that’s your purpose. That’s your quest. You just have to be brave enough to follow it.

“Because if everybody had a purpose,

no matter how small,

the world would be a better place for us all.”

– Mark Leruste

Clear a path.

If you’re a business owner with a purpose, and the bravery to follow it through, you don’t want anything in your way.  As Mark Leruste clearly lays out, being an entrepreneur is tougher than even other entrepreneurs make it look! Make sure that you’re not tackling more than you should. For businesses of every size, PayWow can help entrepreneurs handle payroll, time management and tax compliance.  You’re on a quest. Along the way, check out this tool to help you get you where you’re going.

Clear my path!

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