Victory Comes to Those Who Silence the Voice of Self-Doubt
I’m not sure if it was an early mid-life crisis, or perhaps it was a momentary lapse in judgment, but this year I signed up for a mud obstacle-course run. It was 11 miles of grueling, muddy terrain with 20 obstacles to overcome. I am not an athlete. I never have been. But for months leading up to the run, I trained, ran, lifted weights and did more push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups than I can count.
The day of the run came, and for hours I ran, hurled myself over muddy walls and swam through dumpsters full of ice water. What I realized is that while all of my physical training was helpful, crossing the finish line was going to depend upon my mental stamina. When the run wears you down physically all you have left to carry you is your mental grit.
Related: How to Deal With Self-Doubt
It is the same as being a small-business owner. We can educate ourselves, study the market and train night and day for our "run." But what will carry us across the finish line is our mental focus and our dedication to blocking out the excuses our mind feeds us.
Day in and day out I see my clients battling with their mind. It was shortly after my run that I came across an incredible ad by Nike called “Rise and Shine.” It spoke to athletes on overcoming the mental battle. It inspired me to write the passages below with a focus on small-business entrepreneurs. I share this with my clients whenever they are struggling and need a mental boost to continue pursuing their dreams:
We are entrepreneurs. Our biggest enemies are not our competition, the market or the economy. Our biggest enemies are the voices that tell us we are tired, we are not good enough, and, worst of all, that it's easier to quit.
As entrepreneurs we have to push away those voices and find the strength within us to face more challenges, more obstacles and more adversities. Those who are able to leave the voices behind fall into an elite group because the right way isn't always the easiest way.
You, the entrepreneur who pushes past the barriers your mind has set for yourself, are part of the elite group. You deliberately turn your back on being comfortable and feeling safe. You know that the "easy way out" is always available -- it's right behind you, breathing down your neck. But you never turn around to face its existence.
Being part of this elite group means that you focus on taking one step after another. With each step you gain momentum. You're in a fight against an opponent you can't see -- those voices inside your head. Your fears, doubts and insecurities are the enemies that are ready to take you down with the first sign of weakness. They are not easy to overcome, but they are not invincible.
They will tell you that you can't do it, you're too feeble, you're not smart, you're a nobody. Uncertainty is their weapon of mass destruction and they know your weakest areas because they have studied you throughout your entire life. The only way to fight back is to ignite a fire within your heart that is so big your mind becomes consumed with the goals you are fighting for.
When you get tired, weak and want to throw in the towel, the only questions you need to ask yourself are:
"Have you given it everything you've got? Are you absolutely sure?"
Keep in mind that luck is the wish of those who want to believe that winning can happen completely by accident. Victory is a choice. So decide now because your destiny will not sit still while waiting for you to choose between mediocrity and greatness.
And when that time comes, the time for you to take the next bold step towards your future, and you have a thousand voices screaming at you telling you that you aren't ready -- make sure you listen to that one inner voice of defiance, the one that brought you into this elite group in the first place. The one that says "you can do this. You are ready."
It's time to step up, be that elite entrepreneur that you were destined to be, and never look back. We've got work to do.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this column did not acknowledge the Nike ad.