Entrepreneurial life creates the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It is a journey of never ending emotions. The true leaders emerge when times are tough, gut-wrenching decisions are called for and mistakes are made. I’ve been there, at the low points, more times than I ever want to count.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” I am learning to embrace my mistakes, the abundance of them that continually threaten to poison my mind from moving forward with my entrepreneurial journey. As painful as they were, I have learned a lot about myself, my will power and my resolute resiliency.
Below are three things that I have asked myself whenever I began to struggle with setbacks and mistakes:
1. Who are you doing this for?
I’m a people-pleaser by nature. I quickly learned that the ‘disease to please’ is the quickest way to drown your entrepreneurial dreams. It is said that when people pleasers die, they see the life of someone else flash before their eyes. Is there anything more somber than to put forth all of the blood, sweat and tears into your life only to come to the end of your journey and realize that you’ve been dead inside all along?
My successes and failures were wrapped up in how I was viewed by others. I felt I needed to prove to the people around me that I was smart, admirable and significant. The goals I posted on my mirror were not written out of passion and purpose, they were written as stepping stones towards a sense of worthiness in the eyes of those around me.
My ego had me chasing dreams that would have made my life look picturesque from the outside. I’m sure that, had I achieved them, I would have experienced a pretty dramatic high for a short while. Then I would have been left with a hole of unfulfilled and an un-impassioned emptiness and the inevitable pursuit of another person’s approval to try and fill it.
Make sure that your goals are for you. Do not continue on the never-ending cycle of proving your worthiness to the world. Do not follow the crowd, because they will only lead you to a life of their dreams and their happiness. Do not fall into the trap of believing that success is the key to happiness.
2. Have you given it all you’ve got?
Perseverance is a word that is tossed around by leaders. You’ll find it on posters in conference rooms and chanted in motivational speeches. For many people it has become a word that is just said because we are supposed to say it.
People who truly want to persevere leave everything out on the field, every single day. They give 100 percent and have expectations of themselves that exceed the mediocrity of many people in this world. They are determined and dig deep when they have their sights set on a goal.
The Super Bowl is one day, one game, one chance for each player to give it everything they’ve got. Some players have trained all of their life for that moment. At the end of the day, despite their dedication and perseverance, one team will lose.
There will be days you will lose the game. Live everyday as if this game is the most important game of your life. When you do lose, you can hold your head high knowing you gave it everything you’ve got. You can walk away having learned a better strategy for tomorrow.
3. What are all of my options?
One of the most fascinating and frustrating components of being an entrepreneur is that no two paths to success are alike. We can study what our competition, our mentors,and our experts have done to accomplish the goals we want to accomplish. I was a diligent student of everyone else’s successes. However, it took some very hard falls before I realized that their path may not be the path for me.
Often times we get our sights set on a specific route of how we feel things should go. Our focus becomes so intense that we are blinded to the other options that are available. Many times, when I let go of my stubborn vision of the “right way,” an easier way presented itself.
Never give up on your goals, but be flexible when selecting the paths you take to achieve them. Don’t turn down opportunities just because they are not in line with the way you expect things to go. You never know where they could lead you. Embrace new options and opportunities. Celebrate the fact that your path, your journey, your story will be unique to you.