The Gift and the Curse of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs are a different breed of human beings. While most people would be comfortable living a normal and secure life, an entrepreneur feels more alive when they are taking risks in life. Entrepreneur is defined as a person who is willing to take higher risks than others. Because entrepreneurs have a higher tolerance for risk than most people, they also handle stress differently.
I’ve seen an increase in a specific pattern among today’s entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, that pattern causes them to sabotage their lives and their success in business.
Most entrepreneurs grow up with a sense of knowing they are different from other people. I knew at an early age that I viewed the world different from other kids. In first grade, I tried selling my lunch to my classmates and teachers so I could buy stickers and toys.
I also enjoyed the attention and the sense of mission it gave me. That attention and purpose gave me a feeling of self-worth that made me want to continue improving. As a result, I became an overachiever. Even though school wasn’t my thing, I excelled at making deals and thrived on the negotiation process. Later on, as I sharpened that skill, it gave me an edge in all my businesses.
An entrepreneur’s gift is being an innovator. We love to innovate, compete and achieve, and we have the desire to make things better, faster and more profitable.
The same drive that gives entrepreneurs that edge to win wants to take over everything we do. We have a hard time letting go of our need to win at everything. To those who are not entrepreneurs, we may seem egotistical or self-centered at times, and it becomes difficult to maintain relationships with other people who aren’t visionaries -- or those who don’t share the same passion and drive.
So, we end up on an island with a small circle of people, if any people at all, who understand what we experience running our business every single day. It’s true what they say -- it is lonely at the top. Over the years, I’ve worked with several CEOs and high-level entrepreneurs who say the same thing. They feel isolated from everyone else, including their closest family members.
When this happens to an entrepreneur, they begin doubting their life’s mission and feel inadequate to continue. This is the perfect storm. Despite all their successes, inadequacy, coupled with isolation, is the formula for depression and sabotage.
If they are experiencing the curse, it may cause them to operate more from a place of fear rather than a place of certainty. They fear they may make the wrong decisions or not know what to do next. Meanwhile, people look to them for guidance and leadership. They feel they can’t show any sign of weakness or uncertainty because that would mean they are not good enough to lead.
They pretend everything is fine, when the reality is that they are scared. They don’t have anyone to talk to about their problems without seeming weak or feeling judged. When entrepreneurs don’t know how to handle the curse, they sabotage their businesses and their relationships.
Here are a few insights I’ve learned from entrepreneurs who have overcome the curse.
1. Know you are not normal.
Entrepreneurs are cut from a different cloth. Stop trying to fit in and own the fact that you are not normal. Most people are not going to see things as you see them.
2. Embrace the gift.
Entrepreneurs have a deep desire to overachieve. Don’t let others tell you how to play the game. Use innovation and growth to make your own rules. Don’t focus on the score. Be grateful you are still in the game.
3. Build relationships with other entrepreneurs.
Don’t build a relationship focused solely on business -- build one where it’s OK to have real conversations. Find another entrepreneur in the game who can call you out and hold you accountable. Do the same for them, and set up weekly check-ins to keep each other on track.
4. Join a high-level mastermind for entrepreneurs.
This should be a top priority. Doing this has been one of the main catalysts to my success. I invest a substantial amount of money every year traveling to mastermind with other successful and growing entrepreneurs. I believe that proximity is power. Engaging with other entrepreneurs who are playing the game at your level or above will change your game.
Entrepreneurship is one of the hardest things you will do in your life, but it is also one of the most fulfilling. A mentor once told me that nothing worthwhile is easy, so don’t ask for things to get easier -- ask to get stronger.
This is the gift and the curse.