The life of an entrepreneur is filled with setbacks. We have a great idea (well, what we thought was a great one, anyway) that just doesn’t take off. We screw up and lose a client. We don’t screw up and still lose a client. We run out of money. A valued employee leaves. That’s just the way it goes when you choose this life.
After a while, even the most fervent optimist can run out of steam. So how, after a devastating blow (or two or five), can you regroup and move forward with the faith and confidence that made you an entrepreneur in the first place?
1. Remind yourself that setbacks are part of the building process. Anyone who attempts to build great things will face challenges. Without struggle there is no reward. Without setbacks there’s no triumph. Without failure and defeat along the way there’s no ultimate victory and feeling of accomplishment. When you look at your struggles this way, you realize they are actually gifts.
2. Turn a loss into a L.O.S.S. -- Learning Opportunity Stay Strong. Instead of focusing on your defeat and allowing it to crush you, learn and grow stronger from it. Every loss is a learning opportunity and if you stay strong you can thrive because of it. The Forbes list of the wealthiest people on the planet is filled with individuals who turned their losses into learning opportunities and their failures into success.
3. “Stay crazy” as you think about the future. All entrepreneurs are a little crazy (according to the people around us, at least). That’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay, it’s your ticket to success. If you are not crazy enough to declare what you want to achieve and receive, then you aren’t crazy enough to succeed.
Don’t let setbacks cut your dreams down to “normal.” Keep dreaming as big and bold (and crazy) as ever as you pick yourself up and move confidently to the future.
4. Stop listening to yourself. Start talking to yourself. You know that negativity loop that plays in your mind? The one that says, “I can’t,” “It won’t work,” or “I’m afraid”? Tune it out. When we focus on our worries, fears and doubts, we build a prison of negativity. It’s through positive self-talk that we build ourselves a masterpiece.
I included a “positive pledge” in my book, The Carpenter, precisely because I am such a believer in talking to myself. I know it sounds a little hokey. But only by feeding yourself the words of encouragement that you need to keep going -- whether you speak out loud, “say” the words silently or write them down -- can you override the negativity that too often tends to be our default setting.
5. Everything you do from now on, do with love. Steve Jobs said it first: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I agree. Love is what makes you a craftsman in a world of carpenters.
Whether you’re taking your company in a new direction or starting a whole new venture, start working with love. Jettison the “just-get-it-done” mindset -- that’s fear talking. Take your time to get things right. Pay attention to the small details. Show customers and employees you care.
As I wrote in my book: “If you build your life and company with fear, it won’t be worth building. In the end you’ll look back and realize you didn’t enjoy any of it. It will never be what it could have been and you’ll likely burn out before you finish. And even if you do finish, anything built with fear will eventually crumble.”
Love dissolves fear. It energizes you. It draws the right people -- employees, partners, clients and customers -- to you.
Work with love and you’ll find that you do have what it takes to keep going. Every minute of your journey will be filled with meaning and adventure. That’s how you know you’ve got a successful business -- and a successful life.