Don’t aspire to be an entrepreneur. Aspire to be an inventor.

Entrepreneurship is about getting your invention realized. It’s worthwhile, it’s deeply engaging, and if it works, it can be very rewarding. Maybe even if it doesn’t. But entrepreneurship is not an end, it’s a means to an end. It has to be about something, and the thing it’s about is the invention. Getting the invention realized, bringing something new into the world, that should be what motivates you.

A scene in the movie “Million Dollar Arm” is a good insight into the process of invention. The Jon Hamm character, an entrepreneur at the end of his seed money and staring failure in the face, is sitting in the dark, channel surfing between a cricket match and “Britain’s Got Talent.” It’s 2009 and Susan Boyle is making her now-famous appearance singing “I Dreamed a Dream” and blowing away the judges. Click. Cricket. Click. Singer. We watch as Hamm’s character finds a connection between the singer, the cricket match, and his own problem.

He doesn’t say anything, so you are left to puzzle over what exactly it is that he’s seeing. The movie lets you see him making the connection, so emotionally you believe it, but it’s clearly a connection that you wouldn’t have made. The scene nicely captures this phenomenon of seeing a connection that nobody else sees, that nobody else would ever see in exactly the way you do. And then acting on it.

That’s invention.

Author: Michael Swaine

Michael Swaine is a writer and editor. He helped launch the first personal computer newsweekly, InfoWorld. He co-authored Fire in the Valley, the seminal tech history book on which the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley was based. He was editor-in-chief of Dr. Dobb’s Journal and has written for and edited several other magazines. His latest creation is PragPub magazine.