What’s stopping you fulfilling your potential, preventing you from taking action or slowing your progress as a business owner?
Conditioning your mind for success involves letting these things well and truly slide:
The opinions of naysayers
If you have a plan that you are convinced will work, go for it. If it’s true to your values, fits with your vision and you feel good about it, why not? Not everyone will agree with you because they don’t know what you are capable of. They don’t realise you’ve already done your research, weighed up the pros and cons and crafted a strategy. You know your audience and only they determine your fate.
Many an entrepreneur has been told that their business idea will never take off. It doesn’t mean it’s true. Someone airing their doubts about your business is a projection of their reality, not yours. Don’t internalise negativity levelled at you and don’t let someone else’s limited beliefs be yours.
Thinking too small
As Daniel Burnham, architect of Chicago, once said, “make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.” Make plans so big they scare you. Make plans so big that thinking about achieving them spurs you into action and motivates you to keep going. The small wins will happen along the way as you consistently put the work in, but it’s the big juicy needle-moving accomplishments that make you remarkable.
You don’t need to tell everyone your grandiose plans. Just know them yourself and know the steps ahead of achieving them. As Seth Godin said, “you’re either remarkable or invisible.”
No matter what you’re creating or selling, you will, at some point, need to put yourself out there. For your customers to buy into your brand and your story they will need to see it. This is no time to shy away from the limelight for fear of ridicule.
If you have a niggling feeling that something isn’t right, work out what it is and fix it. If the only niggling feeling is the adrenalin you get from being centre stage, channel it into action, start taking action and find your audience.
Maybe it is embarrassing telling people that you’re starting a business, or growing a business, or looking for customers. But who cares? Be shameless. You’d much rather do that than sit in silence and let opportunities pass you by.
Dreams without plans and action
There must be a connection between the dreams you have and the actions you are putting in place. Avoid having dreams that don’t link to plans because you will just get frustrated at not achieving them. You might think you want to be fluent in Spanish, but have you signed up to the courses, downloaded the language apps and booked the trip to Madrid? A dream without a plan is just a wish, and wishing is not a strategy for success.
Turning up to an arbitrary desk for eight hours a day to tap away at a keyboard answering emails and going to pointless meetings isn’t progress. It’s definitely busyness, it’s definitely activity, but wasting time in between weekends isn’t going to get you to the milestones you have in mind. If you really want to get somewhere, work out the route there and ignore everything else.
Feeling like it’s too soon
If your current situation is cushy or if you are daunted by the thought of starting a business, it will never feel like the right time to begin. If you’re already running a profitable and stable organisation, it might not ever feel like the right time to think bigger, reinvest or take risks. Sure, you could hang back, take it slower and play golf on weekdays, but you’re capable of so much more than that and you’d be doing yourself and the world a disservice to succumb.
The hardest thing is starting. Once you’ve started, you know the drill and you learn quickly from there. You develop conscious competence, then unconscious competence, and then suddenly you can do the basics excellently without even trying. That’s where the real magic happens and that’s the time to keep pushing, not the time to back off. Get started now.
Being all talk
In the 2015 film The Big Short, Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, one of the first people to discover the American housing market bubble. When he’s working, operating his own hedge fund, he is running through the numbers doing the work that his clients commission him to do. He could spend his days gossiping with them or talking vaguely about investing, but he doesn’t. He communicates only when he has something important to say. He has something important to say because he’s working at it and not looking for excuses not to.
Deep down, you know what you should be doing and how spending your time will add the most value. But there’s a difference between saying you want to write a book and actually writing a book. Between launching a brilliant product and just talking about it. Progress, not busyness. Action, not words.
Fear of failure
When starting or scaling a business, things will crop up that you haven’t foreseen. It’s inevitable. But working out how to move past obstacles, as well as seeing them as fun challenges to be solved, is what separates great entrepreneurs from those who never quite reach their potential.
What’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work out, you have to close down and then you start again. I’d choose that over never starting any day. If you don’t view anything as failure then it’s not failure. If someone else views it as failure then they have no place in your life. Only your labels for you count. You only fail when you give up.
Get comfortable in that unknown space and don’t tie your own success to outcomes you can’t control, or winning the support of people who don’t have your back. If you need some motivation to see past potential failure, talk to someone who has achieved things you aspire to achieve, make yourself a hype playlist or remind yourself that one day you won’t be here and neither will anyone you know.