Part 2: Are you really that bad?
The rat race that is entrepreneurship does not allow for much self-congratulation. There is always the next big task that requires your attention. There’s that meeting you’ve been chasing for the longest time; that event you need to attend; that pitch you need to prepare for, etc. As a result, we hardly ever take the time to survey the distance we have travelled and to appreciate the good work we have put into making our goals a reality, one small win at a time. Which is strange and can be demoralizing for you and your employees. Whether you have been in business for over a decade, three years or just under a year, you have something to celebrate and be proud of.
I recently had a conversation with two entrepreneurs who seemed quite keen to talk themselves into a depression about their entrepreneurial journey. “I seem never to get the big contracts!” and “I am a struggling entrepreneur with hardly anything to celebrate,” lamented the two. What came across is that they are suffering under the weight of their perceived failures. Even worse, it sounds like their journey is nothing but one long failure, punctuated with moments of hope that things will turn for the better, hence they remain engaged.
Anybody who has ever tried anything worthwhile knows how ridiculous it can be to look down on your endeavor because of setbacks along the way. Entrepreneurship is not a sprint, but rather a marathon that requires you to celebrate every kilometer completed, knowing that the total equals the finish line. It sounds and is ridiculous-however human it may be- to focus on what you have not achieved instead of learning from such failures and harnessing your successes to power you forward, however small they may be.
We all have it rough at some point in our lives. The difference is our perception of our circumstances. When I started on my entrepreneurial journey, I knew there would be challenges. I knew I would encounter many naysayers who would have no faith in my ability to deliver on my promises. I knew that it would take time for me to rise to the required level of trust for people to say yes more than they said no. In a sense, I went into it with my eyes wide open and understanding that I would have more sleepless nights than beauty sleep, less time for the things I care about, and more stress than any paid job can bring. A year into it, I am still learning to deal with the negative and to celebrate the positive. In fact, I deal with the negatives by celebrating the positives. Easier said than done of course! Below are a few pointers from my personal experience:
- Learn something new everyday
- Keep a journal/free flow diary
- Receive and thank others for praise
- Allow your small wins to drive you to those big ones
- Don’t keep your small wins to yourself
Every time I am presented with a challenge, my mind goes to what I call ‘heightened-solution mode’. At this level of thinking, I open myself up to receive new learnings and appreciate that every new task brings with it an opportunity to be innovative.
Keep track of your work, not only noting what needs to be done but breaking it down to task level so you are able to tick off the things you have accomplished (and your reason for that pat).
When someone tells you that you have done a great job, don’t go on about how hard it was to accomplish and how you don’t feel like you deserve the praise because of this and that… Just say thank you and take it in.
When you make progress towards your big goals, take it as an indicator that you can and you will achieve the biggie. Remember that the big successes don’t just happen; they are an accumulation of small wins.
Some people think that when you share your successes, you are bragging and you should therefore keep it to yourself. I do not subscribe to this notion not only because it permits you to wilt, but it also assumes that success is to be celebrated privately. What’s the point of that? Share your wins with others and you might be surprised how many people you empower in the process to want to achieve for themselves.
It is never too late to congratulate yourself. When you start today, make sure you don’t end today. Start thinking like someone who is looking for evidence to reward, only you do it for yourself. You’ll be amazed at how many things you ought to be proud of.
Please check out Part 6 on Thursday on my series: Transitioning into Entrepreneurship.