Entrepreneurship will throw challenge after challenge at you, but it’s possible to power through successfully.
BY FAISAL HOQUE | October 8, 2014
Nellie Bowles, in an article on Re/Code, writes about the tragic suicides of three entrepreneurs involved in The Downtown Project in Las Vegas.
Their stories show the potentially extreme isolation and psychological impact of entrepreneurship.
Although the buzz about entrepreneurship continues to grow, in reality, more than 70% of ventures fail. Most entrepreneurs make a lot less money than if they worked for someone else. The road to success is often long and lonely — brutal hours, massive amounts of stress, and a huge amount of personal sacrifice. And in some cases, failure takes an unimaginable toll, such as ending one’s life.
I believe we need much more conversation about the psychological makeup and impact of entrepreneurship.
So, let’s first summarize why would anyone want to become an entrepreneur?
- To survive: They have no other choice.
- To pursue a dream: They want to fulfill their personal and/or financial dreams.
- To make a difference: They want to make a difference, to do something that has a positive and long-lasting impact.
Those who survive and ultimately thrive in their entrepreneurial journeys have one thing in common: It’s called “grit.” It is the courage, the resiliency, and the power within each of them — not the circumstances outside — that keeps them moving. This is the topic of the next book I’m coauthoring with Lydia Dishman.
Angela Duckworth, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and her colleagues in their research define grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” It’s now believed to be the most important trait of successful people, and Duckworth writes that “the gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.”
I believe grit is an attitude; it’s your belief that you can conquer anything. It’s not giving up, nor giving in. It’s the ability to go from days to weeks to months to years to reach your destination as you define it. To me GRIT stands for:
Trusting your gut
Gut refers to instinct. It’s the ability to jump into something based on your feelings without knowing all the facts. It’s how we tap into our subconscious mind to guide ourselves.
When something is right, the choice often becomes strangely easy. It feels natural; you are not forcing it; there is not a lot of conflict. When something is not right, if you are really tuned in to yourself, your body reacts to it. You feel it in your stomach.
The trick is to develop “guts,” the courage to trust yourself to choose the right path. Every time I have failed, it started with me going against my gut. Like anything else, trusting your gut comes from awareness, devotion, and confidence. In this case it is your emotional self.
(Read one of my previous posts, “7 Ways To Build Your Courage Against Impossible Odds,” for more on the topic.)
Confucius famously said, “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”
The noun “resilience” stems from the Latin resilience, which means “to rebound, recoil.” As a character trait, resilience is a person’s mental ability to recover quickly from misfortune, illness, or depression.
Entrepreneur or not, life eventually throws everyone a major curve ball. Professional and personal failures and rejections, health issues, accidents, natural disasters: each needs to be approached with resiliency in order to survive and then thrive.
Resilient people develop a mental capacity that allows them to adapt with ease during adversity, bending like the green reed instead of breaking like the mighty oak. They possess a set of powerful traits.
(Read one of my previous posts, “Bend, Not Break: 9 Powerful Traits of Resilient People,” for more on the topic.)
Invent and reinvent, again and again.
In this ever-changing world, we are constantly forced to reinvent ourselves. And this reinvention process by its very nature is the essence of the entrepreneurial mindset, one that is “purposefully omnivorous.” It allows one to learn from diverse perspectives. Entrepreneurs need traveling companions that can relate to their experiences and support their suffering.
In rough waters, when we feel there is no one to call upon for help, it is ultimately our skills that save us. We master our skills by constantly pushing ourselves with devoted effort — devotion that allows us to craft our authentic calling by connecting the dots between our inner world and outer world. You have to stay in the game in order to win. Entrepreneurs find a way to press on! You have to invent and reinvent again and again.
As Theodore Roosevelt said:
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.
So my friends, be bold and dare greatly!
(Read one of my previous posts, “How To Reinvent Yourself with An Entrepreneurial Mindset,” for more on the topic.)
Tenacity is the commitment to your purpose. Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
We fail when we give up. It takes a lot longer to succeed than it usually seems on the surface. We live in a world where instant gratification is the name of the game, and the definition of success is overblown.
The meaning of success should be driven by the sense of our individual purpose. Executing that success requires taking the next step, every day, no matter how hard it may be. Tenacity means to keep looking for the answer though the darkness of despair is all around.
As Bangali Poet Rabindranath Tagore said, “I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door — or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”
It’s this ability to get up again and again that makes the difference.
(Read one of my previous posts, “How Lego Survived Against All Odds — And You Can, Too” for more on the topic.)
In his article, “Founder Suicides,” which pointed me to Nellie Bowles’ story on the Las Vegas tragedies, Brad Feld writes, “It’s OK to fail. It’s OK to lose. It’s OK to be depressed.” It’s encouraging to see that conversations about the psychological impacts of entrepreneurship are happening.
I try to deal with my adversities and setbacks with “grit” day in and day out. I hope you do the same, as the world needs entrepreneurs more than ever.
image:The 621st Contingency Response Wing/flickr.
Original article @BusinessInsider.