What’s your all-time favorite roller coaster ride? When I was younger, I used to love the Free Fall drop ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Basically, if you didn't mind the risk of losing your stomach contents, this was the ride for you: Your passenger car would slowly advance into an elevator shaft, hoist you up 10 stories into the air, then when you least expected it, drop you like a hot potato some 86 feet to the bottom. The ride was exhilarating, fun and nerve-racking, but definitely worth the thrill.
It was a thrill not unlike the unnerving ride into entrepreneurship that Success magazine publisher Darren Hardy describes in his new book, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster: Why Now Is the Time to #Join the Ride.
A man who got his own entrepreneurial start at age 18, Hardy knows well the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. He started out by selling water filters, later became a successful real estate agent and today is a much sought-after speaker, author and publisher. But his road to success wasn’t paved in gold. He learned many lessons the way most of us do, but with that knowledge came the quintessential entrepreneur who now stands at the helm of a multi-million dollar empire.
I had the opportunity to interview Hardy recently, and here are some of his points I think will help you along your own entrepreneurial path.
1. The biggest reason businesses fail and how you can avoid it
Most of us have heard the statistic that 66 percent of all small businesses fail, but do you know why?
According to Hardy, businesses fail because of internal reasons, not external ones. “Fear is the great inhibitor to our success,” he said. Entrepreneurs embarking on this wild ride have no idea of the emotional rollercoaster ahead. Some days, you feel like you are crushing it, and other days you question why you even started.
The entrepreneur rollercoaster, however, trains us in skills that will prepare to become emotionally bulletproof in the pursuit of our dreams. “I believe most of us are living a fraction of what we’re capable of doing, [because] our oftentimes-negative internal dialogue stops most of us from starting,” Hardy said. And therein lies the secret: If you are afraid, that’s precisely an indicator you should try. “You must submerge yourself into that very activity,” Hardy says. “In fact, fear is not even real. It is how your mind interprets things that may cause fear. But fear doesn’t actually exist; it’s all in your mind.”
Action item: Write down your three greatest fears about starting your business or moving forward in an important aspect of your business. Do the thing you fear over and over again, until you train your brain that it’s no longer something to dread.
2. The pendulum effect
When Hardy started in real estate at age 20, he was a complete novice. So, he compensated: At his first real estate seminar, he bravely asked the lecturer to lunch and asked for the man's best tip on being successful. The lecturer told him to go fail and do it often. Hardy was perplexed.
So, the man picked up his napkin and pulled out a pen. He wrote on the napkin that, “Life, growth, and achievement work like a pendulum. On one side you have failure, rejection, pain and sadness. But on the other side, you have success, victory, joy and happiness.”
Guess which side we have control over? Right: the side that comes with pain and failure and rejection. In that area, we control our own destiny.
Hardy's lunch companion continued: “Over time, most people figure out how to operate in a narrow comfort zone. They only allow the pendulum to swing a small distance into pain and rejection and failure; thus, they only experience the same small degree of joy and success on the other side.”
But here's the lesson: The pendulum does not take sides. It is neutral. It swings freely on both sides with the same force with which you attack life. As the person swinging the pendulum, you'll find that it is impossible to experience one side -- success and joy -- without the other side, pain and rejection.
So, once you step on the entrepreneur rollercoaster, you need to understand that you cannot have ultimate success without failure, just as you cannot have love without heartache. You receive rewards only when you are willing to take risks.
This may all feel to you like a butterfly in flight: What you pursue eludes you, and that’s why you can’t "chase" success. It has to find you. That happens when you become a person worthy of success. And that happens only when you swing that pendulum as high as you can on the side of failure and rejection.
You pick yourself up. You learn from the experience, and you move on. That’s what successful entrepreneurs do. What will you do?
Action item: Make failure a daily goal. Make it fun. Look for ways you can fail and fail fast, so you can reap success later. "Remember," the pendulum effect says, "you cannot experience one side without an equal proportion of the other."
3. The law of paying attention
Hardy says that the greatest challenge today is controlling our attention. “We are living in an era of epic distraction," he said. "There is so much that begs for our attention. We are forever in reaction mode, whether it be to our inbox or social media accounts. [But] we must learn to be insanely focused.
“Some say that the problem is an overabundance of information. It’s not the overabundance of information, but the overconsumption of it that kills productivity.”
As Hardy points out, our brains can focus on just so many things at one time.That’s why having more than three goals at one time is confusing and doesn't allow you to focus on any one goal; inevitably, you wind up taking no action at all. Hardy says that having anything beyond three top goals drains your brain.
Certainly, people talk about the law of attraction, but Hardy says that they should really focus on the law of paying attention. “What you want or need has always been there, but now that you are paying attention, you are giving your brain the energy it needs to focus on it," he said. "You’ll be able to isolate conversations and make connections to things you want, because now you are focused on it. Ideas will freely flow to you.”
If you want to step onto the entrepreneur rollercoaster, you have to start paying laser-like attention to what you really want -- those top three goals -- and begin disregarding everything else.
What if you woke up tomorrow and read your obituary, announcing your death, online? How would that change your life? Would you be happy about all your accomplishments or regret not taking that one step that would have made all the difference in your life?
That very thing happened to Alfred Nobel. His brother had died, and the publication he read mistakenly said that he had died. From that day forward, he vowed to live a life of purpose. And today, the Nobel Prize, named in his honor, is one of the highest achivements there is. Nobel made that change in his life because he wanted his obituary to show something different. He applied laser-like focus to it.
Action item: What three goals -- which you achieved this year by giving them laser-like focus -- would make this your best year ever?
Start pursuing those goals today!