Escaping the walls of the cubicle farm to the land of milk and honey is full of all sorts of booby traps. You can, however, help guarantee the success of your journey to entrepreneurship by acknowledging this simple fact: A business success or failure is largely determined by the individual who starts it, and since you are an individual looking to start a business, its success largely depends on you. Having a business is almost as simple as wanting a business, but if you’re embedded in the unfortunate reality of the rat race how can you prepare yourself while you are still slaving away at that 9-to-5?
I’ve known many people to fail in their endevours because they did not have the foundation necessary to support their efforts, and I am no exception.
After starting and leading a number of organizations and having seen them both rise to greatness and fall to oblivion, I’ve come to the conclusion that fortified values and high self-awareness provide the foundation for effective leadership and durable relationships. These things all contribute to an organization’s ability to grow and prosper. The problem is that out-of-the-box leaders need to be refined in order to ensure that their foundation is suitable for withstanding the endless pressures and pain that come along with success. Suffering constant failures forced me to recognize some fundamental flaws in my own foundation: impatience, exceedingly high expectations, selfishness, lack of trust — things which I have yet to fully overcome.
Over the months I’ve taken to task to make the necessary repairs, and now that I’ve diverted my attention to building business organizations I’ve been able to generalize some of the steps necessary to restructuring my foundation. The first of which should be no surprise to you:
Reset Your Priorities By Putting Yourself in New Situations
There are somethings that only life lessons can teach you, and if you are lucky enough to have learned such lessons, you are already farther ahead then everyone else. Why? Because after you’ve been knocked off your rocker a enough of times, you eventually look up to notice where the punches are flying in from, allowing you to duck or dodge the next round of punches and possible flying kicks. Most people don’t alter course until something catastrophic or emotionally moving happens — and most people don’t set themselves up for the failures that preclude these types of life-altering moments to begin with. How can you expect to give big business a run for their money if all your life experience is based on what you’ve seen on Oprah?
The key to winning is to constantly challenge your thinking, and make improvements as necessary — in other words resetting your priorities. The only way to accomplish this is to be faced with new things that bend your preconceived notions and other various misconceptions that are only truly revealed at runtime. The more experience you have in life, the better your judgment becomes, allowing you to make better decisions!
If you’re one of many a trapped cubicle monkeys striving to be an entrepreneur, go out and live. That is the single most effective thing you can do to hit your reset switch. The process of putting yourself in different situations, observing the consequence of your actions from a distance, and learning from the outcome is a cycle that continues throughout the life of a successful business person. So challenge yourself and have an entrepreneurial epiphany. This is a necessary consequence of leadership.
Using me as a template, here’s a glimpse of how I’ve reset some of my priorities:
+ Impatience – I want things done yesterday, but sometimes the way I interact with people is more important than having said things done now. Being patient in the right situations keeps from burning bridges where I need them. You can never have too many bridges.
+ High Expectations – If you want something done right do it yourself — sure — but sometimes doing it right means letting someone else learn how to do it. Sometimes simply completing the task at hand is not as important as making sure your team members have self-confidence and new opportunities to grow.
+ Selfishness – The world is my oyster, surely, but I’ll have more pearls if I share my oysters with others. Do I really need oysters anyway? I really wanted pearls. As counterintuitive as it may seem, more often than not, sharing is a more effective means to having more.
+ Lack of Trust – The world surely does not revolve around me and my demands, understanding what drives and motivates people to do the things they do makes their missteps more bearable. I used to count the ways in which people have let me down until I realized that hey people just don’t think the way that I do. Once I started to realize that people have motivations that don’t mirror my own, I understood people better, and in turn was able to extend my trust.
These changes came as a consequence of putting myself in a situation where my real priorities could be exposed and challenged.
If you find that you are constantly struggling to achieve your goals, take time to re-evaluate your perceptions and priorities. The one sure way that will help you do this is getting out into the open world and put yourself where the people are. Do something crazy like the water bottle experiment, or go volunteer at a community center. The sooner you are able to reset your priorities the more effective you will be at creating a new business.
What are some of your foundation flaws?
Are you mature enough to repair them or are you still waiting for your entrepreneurial epiphany?
Does “living life” or having some big event necessarily precede being able to change your priorities?
Next Article “Define You” I’ll talk about how having a firm understanding of “you” is an essential piece of your foundation aka launchpad.
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