Setbacks

How to Find Entrepreneurial Inspiration From a Personal Calamity

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In May 2010, I was riding my new motorcycle on a local highway when I was struck by a driver who was texting. I saw it all happening. The car in front of me passed and the woman driving crossed into my lane without looking up. She was only eight feet in front of me and I was traveling 30 miles an hour with no time to stop.

I suffered broken ribs, my bike was wrecked and I was now hesitant to ever ride my motorcycle again. More than anything, my eyes were opened to the tragedies that can occur when drivers are distracted. The accident caused me to think differently about the way people drive and all the distractions in the way, from texting and emails to navigation.

Related: In the Face of Sudden Tragedy, How This CEO Was Able to Rise Anew

Around the same time, I was researching transparent interactive graphics on storefront windows when the idea struck that perhaps it would be possible to replicate this image on the windshield of a car. I did initial research and found that luxury car makers were beginning to offer head-up display (HUD) but this technology was very marked up and it was not available to the average consumer. I saw potential in the idea of a HUD that was portable, affordable and functional and filed a patent.

Fast forward four years, my vision that was the result of a very negative experience is now a reality. Launching at CES 2015, SenseHud is a small, portable, $99 HUD with a voice-activated driving assistant named Hudson that aims to help people become safer, less distracted drivers.

Negative things happen to us all the time, but it’s what we do with that experience that defines us. A bad experience often catalyzes you to learn from it or to take big action. With each negative experience, you have the chance to turn it into an opportunity. This is what makes the difference between winners and losers. My recommendation to all is to try to find the positive in everything that happens and ask “Is there a large scale problem that is begging for a solution?” If the answer is yes, it’s an opportunity to create.

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Here are three things to consider:

1. Act now.

An idea is just an idea without execution so start executing immediately. It’s important to have a mentor that can guide you through the decision making process but don’t let the fear of not finding one slow you down. Have faith you will meet your mentor when you need him or her. The most important thing is to keep making moves towards your vision and you will find a mentor when the time is right.

2. Do not internalize the process.

Instead, talk about your ideas with everyone and anyone you meet. The first hurdle you face is doubt, and doubt is easier to defeat when others share in your vision. If you’re going to start a company or launch a product, you must have understanding that you need help from others. As long as you’re open to others joining you, you can do most anything. Any time fear tries to stop you, remember it’s not just you it has to stop… it will have to stop everyone you’ve met along the way as well.

3. Stay motivated.

When in the very early-stages of crafting your vision, you’re going to get frustrated, but remember why you’re doing this. To others it will be blatantly obvious you’re just starting out. You’ll misuse terminology and over-look basic stuff, but what happens next will be surprising. Most of the people you meet won’t shut you down or tune you out. They’ll ask questions that challenge you to be better and they will connect with you on a different level.

If you have enough passion, it will show in everything you do and people will respect that and relate it to their own experiences. They will help your dream become a reality.

Seeing the opportunity in a negative experience and turning it into a positive isn’t going to be easy, but with a lot of determination and help from others, you can awaken your entrepreneurial spirit and help change the course for others behind you.

Related: How One Entrepreneur Overcame Unthinkable Tragedy