The Secret to Taking on the Toughest Challenges in Entrepreneurship
As any entrepreneur will tell you, launching a business is not exactly easy. Taking nothing and turning it into something is, well, hard. If it were easy, it would have already happened. So how do I keep at it?
Entrepreneurship has too many ups and downs to measure my success by what I accomplish in terms of money or fanfare. Instead, I define my success around accomplishments that I can uniquely control.
1. Integrity. Have I done what I say I’m going to do? Have I treated people with respect?
2. Learning. Have I learned from everything I can? Objections. Questions. People. My own psychology.
I approach everything I do with these two simple goals. By defining my success this way, I quiet the negative voices in my head and have a different relationship with bigger challenges. Regardless of the outcome, they become opportunities to learn something.
For example, yesterday I got a snarky response from a reporter to whom we were pitching a story about Mightybell. The straight A-student over-achiever in me wanted to take this as rejection. And this feeling of rejection has stopped me in my tracks many times in the past.
But the learner in me took a different approach. The learner in me responded with, “Wow, this is a gift. I can use this to understand the objections and get smarter and more effective in how we talk about the company. I can’t wait to experiment with a response to this reporter and tweak my pitch further for other audiences. This is going to be fun.”
The more focused I am on treating every moment as an opportunity to learn and get better, the easier - and more interesting - entrepreneurship gets. When I’m less afraid, my mind is more creative. When my mind is more creative, I make better decisions. When I make better decisions, I’m more successful. It’s a virtuous cycle.
To be clear, I’m still super competitive and want to win. I am also not always the best version of my “learner” self. But I do know that when I’m focused on learning, I’m willing to take on bigger challenges.
Want to know a secret? As an entrepreneur for the last decade, I have learned that attending the best business schools in the country, mastering technical skills like accounting and marketing, and networking with the persistence of an Olympic athlete don’t matter nearly as much as managing your mindset.
My greatest successes have come from striving to be the best version of myself. I know, I know, what a cliché. But I do believe the combination of my mission, focus on integrity, and passion for learning makes even the toughest challenges possible.