The Question We Should Be Asking Is: What Are You Willing to Struggle For?

A treehouse in Atlanta is Airbnb's most-wishlisted property in the world.

A treehouse in Atlanta is Airbnb's most-wishlisted property in the world.

Author, armchair philosopher and globetrotter Mark Manson wrote a beautiful column a few years ago that is just as timely today, prompted by the question: What do you want out of life?

The answer is stunningly simple.

What matters most to you?

How do you value your time and energy?

What are you willing to struggle for?

Most of us dabbled in several sports, activities or hobbies before we found one that took, one we stuck with despite the pain or sacrifice or failure along the road to learning and becoming expert (or at least proficient). We stayed with it because it fulfilled us. We decided the hard parts were worth it.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners encounter a lot of struggle as they try to make a go of things. Low pay or no pay. Exhaustion from road shows pitching their idea. Skepticism. Rejection from prospective investors. Enormous risk.

But they decided the struggle was worth it. 

Airbnb was founded by a couple of guys who couldn't afford to pay their rent, and decided to let people crash on an air mattress at their apartment for $80 a night. Lots of investors scoffed at their idea. Bookings were poor. They almost gave up.

Then they realized that better pictures might give people confidence in the idea of staying at a stranger's place. They went door-to-door in New York City to take better pictures of hundreds of listings. They pitched their idea to dozens more investors. Everyone said no.

Then Sequoia said yes, and made a $600,000 seed investment. Soon Airbnb raised a $7 million round, followed by a $112 million round.

In early 2017, Airbnb raised a $1 billion round that valued it at $31 billion.