I talked to a long-time friend and colleague today about his experiences as a first-time entrepreneur; like many of our experiences, it’s been full of highs and lows. The thrill of starting a new venture often leaves in its wake a tattered battlefield of failed experiments, expended-effort-to-no-avail, frustration and disappointment. Then, we’re thrilled by the wins again.
It’s easy to drop into dark periods of second-guessing oneself when the going gets tough. We wish we would have done certain things differently, “if only” and “why didn’t I” thoughts racing through our minds as we tried to figure out what we should have done, and should do now, spinning ruthlessly around the why-didn’t-I.
I still marvel at the vast “shift” one must undergo to really be successful as a business owner. It’s not something you can prepare people for, frankly. There are many entrepreneurial paths with unique challenges, yet all of them have one thing in common: they require you to be mentally tough and have a high threshold for uncertainty to survive.
Don’t get trapped by your own thoughts
I remember listening to Tony Robbins’ Personal Power program and reading Robert Kyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, and marveling at the idea of being stuck in disempowering thoughts. Marshall Goldstein says, “The thinking that got you here won’t get you there,” and I think that pretty much sums up the greatest challenge we must face as entrepreneurs: changing our thinking, a herculean task–talk about embarking on the Hero’s Journey! Who must I become to complete this quest? has never rang more true than within the context of shifting from employee to entrepreneur.
There are a few key lessons that entrepreneurship has taught me, which I’ll share in my next post. If you’ve spent any time on this path, you’ll see your own experiences in them and resonate with their truth, I’m sure! Sharing these lessons won’t keep you from having to journey through them (sometimes over and over again), but perhaps they can pique your attention to maybe look at things a little differently on the next go-around. And don’t judge yourself too harshly for not knowing it all. When a baby is learning to walk, do the missteps count as failures? Hardly. You don’t learn to walk without tripping, falling, sliding, crashing, bumping and tumbling a whole heck of a lot. There’s no way for a baby to “prepare” for what’s to come.
If there was one piece of advice I could give you to help you on this journey, I’d tell you to be conscious about what you’re making things mean–commit to finding an empowering meaning for your experiences. Every successful entrepreneur I know has traveled the road of get-back-up. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t been taking big-enough risks!
Question: What’s your view of the connection between failure and success? Did you overcome a pivotal moment on your path to success?