We all have a choice – a choice to begin a beautiful journey towards a lifestyle that you don’t need to escape from. Yet, the fear of not-fitting-in triumphs! And this fear leaves us living in our rut and settling for a mediocre life. “The only place you will reach if you follow the crowd is the exit.” This Robin Sharma quote finally made me think for once. It made me realize that we are all swimming in a massive ocean of human beliefs, modalities, rules, ideas, and practices.
After quitting my “societally influenced” career path, I am now an internationally certified leap ahead and human potential coach helping individuals create exponential life growth by saying yes to themselves. I am also an NLP coach practitioner, a TEDx speaker and author of 2 books, The Winning You and Make It Happen! Today, as I move ahead in my new journey, there are 5 principles that entrepreneurship has taught me. Rather, these are the principles my new journey is anchored in.
Being Interested vs Being Committed
How many of you know the difference? Honestly, I didn’t know the difference myself until a couple of years ago. All of my life I was guided by this word ‘interested’ – Are you interested in doing this? Are you interested in Engineering or Medicine? Are you interested in joining this new gym that’s opened up in the neighborhood? We have an onsite opportunity at work, are you interested?Are you interested in this? Are you interested in that? Everyone I knew who would only ask me – Am I interested in something?
It was only a few years ago, when one of my mentors, John Assaraf shared the difference between being interested and being committed. What he said was, “When you’re interested, you do what’s convenient; when you’re committed, you do whatever it takes.”
When you say you are interested in doing something, you will always be sitting on the fence, you will have your excuses when the going gets tough or even beforehand. You may not always end up not doing that thing. But, when you are committed to something you will do everything in your power to make it happen.
When I quit my full-time job to pursue my calling in coaching, I made a commitment to myself. I made a commitment to design and create the life of my dreams.
Luke Holden, founder of Luke’s Lobster, a seafood chain in the United States, once said, “A commitment to being an entrepreneur is a commitment to change and evolution.”
Having Tenacity and Resolve
I have an eight-year old daughter. And I have learnt what tenacity and resolve really means from her. Basically from children. I have seen young children go after the things they desire with little-to-no personal ability to achieve it on their own. They just stay put, completely focused on their goal, paying zero attention to what may be standing in their way.
Do you know the story about the Chinese bamboo tree? It is a story of tenacity and resolve. On day one, the Chinese bamboo tree farmer digs a small hole and plants a little seed. He then covers it up with the soil and patiently waters it every single day. In its first year, he sees no visible signs of activity – no sapling, no plant, no tree. He still continues to patiently water it every day. In the second year again, no growth above the soil. The third, the fourth years, still nothing, maybe just a little sprout towards the end of year 4. Then something miraculous happens, in the fifth year. We experience growth. The Chinese bamboo tree grows up to 80 feet in just six weeks!
When I connect this back to entrepreneurship, I realize that entrepreneurship is an experience. It is never too easy. It may be slow to show progress. It may even be frustrating and unrewarding at times. But it is so worth it….if we choose to be tenacious and have resolve. Entrepreneurship is our ability to stay tenacious and have resolve even when we are unable to see any growth on the surface… just like the Chinese bamboo tree or just like children who keep pushing forward at every opportunity with whatever limited resources they have.
Choosing a Growth Mindset Over a Fixed Mindset
More often than not, we unconsciously operate from something known as a fixed mindset – I can’t do that, I am not smart enough, I am not good enough, I am not worthy, I don’t know how to do that. According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, we assume that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static. We are always loyal to a central theme – our comfort zone. Any departure, even momentarily, causes great uncertainty and trepidation. Operating from this fixed mindset is why 99% of entrepreneurs plateau early and give-up.
In order to succeed as an entrepreneur it is very important that we switch to what is called a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the one that is open to new facts, new strategies, new perspectives, new risks, and new possibilities. It is a mindset that embraces challenges and sees it as a springboard for growth and stretching our abilities. One of the easiest ways to develop a growth mindset is to be curious about the challenge or obstacle. In other words, it is seeking out growth, change and constructive action.
We can either choose to be part of the problem, or we can be part of the solution. If we choose to be part of the problem and play victim, we are operating from a fixed mindset. If we choose to be part of the solution, we switch to operating from a growth mindset. And, this is a very important shift for an entrepreneurial journey, as it has taught me.
Frankly, switching to a growth-mindset has been most challenging for me. Even today, I am grappled by my inner resistance, my doubts, my beliefs and my fears. All these years I labelled myself as a shy and reserved introvert personality. And now I am in a profession where I need to step out and meet people, and help them see the potential within them. It feels like walking up to a cat and telling her that she is a tiger. It is a perspective that entrepreneurship has opened me up to.
Don’t Choose Death By Desire
I picked this cool subtitle from Ajit Nawalkha’s Live Big book. However, the principle is also clearly mentioned in my book, The Winning You. In today’s deluge of distractions, it has become increasingly difficult for us to create any space and time for ourselves. We are constantly seeking out things from social media, emails, and the Internet. The Internet and social media revolution also has a dual role of disrupting our lives. We always feel that there is something better out there. It has grown to such an extent that we are drowning in a massive feeling of “missing out.”
How many of you can relate to this? Keep checking your smartphones, your emails, your WhatsApp messages, your social media …
All of this puts us in an endless reactive state that keeps us from achieving what we have set out to do. Entrepreneurship has taught me to choose to take control. It has taught me to create a zone to think, to reflect and to reconnect with myself – most experts call it a zone for doing deep work!
Using I as a Verb
This principle piggybacks on the principle of growth mindset. Buckminster Fuller, a renowned 20th century inventor and visionary once said, “I seem to be a verb!” This one powerful observation unveils the secret of human potential. In his book, Reinventing Yourself, author Steve Chandler goes deep into explaining the two basic ways of living – living as an owner of yourself or living as a victim of the circumstances. One way, the ownership way, reinvents you as you go. The other way, the victim way, shrinks you down. Victims think that all power lies outside of themselves and that they are at the mercy of other people and circumstances. And that’s why victimization is always the easier way to go. Just look around yourselves, everywhere in our day to day lives, all we see is victims, including us most likely.
Victims are convinced that they are nouns, that is, things, permanent things. They operate from a “I gotta be me” illusion – an illusion of their personality. As an entrepreneur, one of the things that I have learnt is to know that I am a verb, that is, pure action. If you tell yourself that you have one personality, you limit your range of action. If you label yourself as “shy” or “reserved” or “introverted,” like I did most of my life, you shutdown your ability to be great.
As entrepreneurs, it is important to realize that the power is not somewhere out there. The power is in you.