What is the one true obstacle we all must face down as entrepreneurs? Overcoming fear. Keeping the faith. Not throwing in the towel when it gets hard. Entrepreneur or not, life tests us.
We receive challenges every day in the form of things not going quite as we had planned — and that’s the lesson, you can plan, but you can’t really plan.
Sometimes, no plan is the best plan, and running with a crazy idea can take you further than you’d imagined.
Take, for example, Satya Twena, who had the enormous pleasure of interviewing for my video series LeadersCreateLeaders. She came to New York with no money, no job, no apartment, no idea what she was going to do. For most people, this is the ultimate nightmare. But, for those of us who like a challenge, and I do hope you like a challenge if you’re on the path of entrepreneurship, because there will be many — it’s an adventure. She is now a super successful young entrepreneur, running the only hat factory in New York City, and keeping an art alive. She’s been covered by the Wall Street Journal, and her designs have graced everyone from Oprah to Usher. She had no idea this is what she’d end up doing. She just did it.
It starts with your thoughts.
The key is not letting your thoughts get in the way of where you want to go. The key is staying so motivated that nothing can sway you — including the prospect of failure.
We’ll all face down failure at one point or another. We might also face down exhaustion, confusion, curve balls, and many moments where stopping seems tempting. However, if there is one muscle that is absolutely imperative to strengthen, no matter who you are or what you’re doing, it’s your faith in yourself.
The thing is, if you don’t believe in yourself, there’s no point in starting. You can receive all of the praise in the world from other people, but you’re not living for other people, so that’s false confidence. Your confidence has to come from your trust in yourself, your ability to follow your gut feelings, and to take leaps as necessary.
For those of us interested in leading legendary lives, and leaving the ordinary behind, the goal is a high one: to stay committed to our vision when it seems all odds are stacked against us.
Satya is a great example of this. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was a harrowing experience for her, because these are the times when we realize how precious life is. It’s not to be wasted on worrying about possible future outcomes that haven’t happened, and may not ever. That’s the thing of it — we sometimes spend more time worrying than we do taking action. That leads absolutely nowhere — and in the wrong direction — as you are simply treading water.
If you truly want the life of your dreams, you have to be willing to keep swimming. Keeping your head above water is easy when you are determined, but in the moments where you’re not sure if you can do it, here are a few ways to bring yourself back to what’s important:
Recognize how far you’ve come.
I live in New York City. That in itself is a lifelong dream for many people. I owe it to anyone who has ever dreamed of living here to make the most of it. And I owe it to myself to leave an impact during my time here, and on the planet. What are you doing if you’re not living, and living fully? I’ll let you answer that. Reflecting back, recognize what you’ve accomplished. Use that as inspiration to keep going. You’ve overcome hardship before, you’ll do it again.
Complaining is a pretty common thing. “It’s hard.” “I don’t want to.” “I’m tired.” While I support listening to your needs and taking great care of yourself, sometimes you just have to jump the hurdle one leg at a time and be grateful that you have legs at all. We make a lot of excuses. Ninety percent of the time they’re cop-outs for fear. That little voice in your head that tells you to give up? That’s your ego. You can easily put it in time-out by shifting your perspective. List some things you’re grateful for. Write them down. Say them out loud. Tell someone you’re grateful for them. Appreciate everything that you have, and you’ll realign with your readiness to receive a whole lot more. Keep complaining, and you’ll keep yourself stuck.
Change your scenery.
We can all be victims to the relentless grind, and taking breaks is mandatory. One of the biggest return-on-investment activities there is? Rest and recovery. Athletes know this. You can’t keep pushing, your muscles need time to rebuild themselves. It’s the same with your mind and your energy. Take a break. Go somewhere else. Get into nature. Visit people you love. If you feel like giving up, sometimes it’s just because you’re wearing yourself down. Instead, drop what you’re doing, do something that makes you feel good, and come back to what you were doing before a day or two later, and I can promise you you’ll have a whole new perspective. You might even have a solution.
Keep your mind right.
Thoughts become things. What you think is exactly what you’ll experience. What I mean by that is, if you expect bad things to happen to you, then they will, because that’s already the perception you’ve set yourself up to have of the world. It’s the real deal that if you keep an optimistic mindset, it can increase your health, satisfaction, and magnetize more opportunities to you. It takes a little bit of effort to tell your ego to cut it out when you’re marinating in self-pity or fear, but it’s worth it, because if you can’t think inspiring thoughts, you’re not going to have an inspiring life. And who wants that? Take your inner dialogue seriously. Look at it. Change it.
Manifest through action.
It’s important to do what you say you’re going to do. Even if everything seems to be pointing toward failure or loss, if you consistently take small steps every day toward what you really want, you never actually know how things are going to turn out — but this ensures that you are always setting yourself up for some kind of win, big or small. Whether it’s finally sending that email to collaborate, or finally sitting down with that investor (even IF you don’t think it will work out), or finally publishing that piece of writing — it’s all good material for your growth, experience, and success. You never know where life is going to lead you, so stop expecting the worst, and start to let things unfold how they’re going to.
Keeping the faith is the ultimate test. It’s one that’s going to come up a lot, both in business and in your personal life. There might come a time when you do actually have to throw the towel in, but you’ll know that it’s that time because it won’t be a snap decision. Stay focused. Stay inspired. Remember how far you’ve come. Be grateful. Take care of yourself. Then see what happens.
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