Entrepreneurs do what they do because they are passionate, and because they want to make an impact. They take big personal, professional and financial risks to have a chance at bringing their innovations into the world where they can positively impact large numbers of people.

It’s like being in a pressure cooker

It takes an incredible amount of grit, determination, persistence, resilience, and raw effort to be an innovator. In addition, the expectation from customers, investors and partners is that the founders and leaders should be rock-solid in just about every imaginable dimension. Many times, this tough exterior is tested and challenged by the chaotic internal turmoil going on at a personal level. After all, entrepreneurs and CEOs are human like everyone else. Their personal lives are also tied in with their professional ones and can’t really be totally separated. One impacts the other and vice versa.

With so many pressures, forces, demands and expectations weighing on them, how do they keep going? More specifically, how do they remain motivated, optimistic, calm and confident?

How resilient are you?

Some individuals are naturally more resilient than others, or more driven than others. Is it because they ‘must’ keep going that they do? It’s a difficult journey, and at times a very lonely one. I believe that regardless of a person’s “natural resiliency”, all entrepreneurs have the potential of being successful, and fully deserve to be. Resiliency can be developed and built up. What is meant by “successful” is probably the topic for another article.

The entrepreneurial support systems out there will often focus on technical and tactical forms of assistance, while expecting that the entrepreneurs are in a mindset capable of executing what needs to be done. But, what if they struggle with this mindset, emotional turmoil, motivation or self-doubt? Is their raw passion supposed to be enough? If it’s not then too bad, it wasn’t mean to be?

Entrepreneurs must work on all aspects of their business

Entrepreneurs are taught to “work on the business” – and do what’s required to succeed. However, a very key component of “the business”, especially at the early stages is the founder. So wouldn’t it then be logical to say “work on the founder” in order to “work on the business” more effectively? This is where it really pays to invest in some self-development through mindset training and coaching. This isn’t something meant to ‘fix’ a broken person. It’s a skillset that anyone and everyone can benefit from – to embrace a growth and self-refinement mindset. To manage the ups and downs that are part of life, and part of starting a business.

Challenges with motivation, drive, grit, emotions, relationships and external pressures are not effectively managed by ignoring them and just pushing onwards. They don’t resolve by themselves, and end up compounding until cracks start to show. An emotional rollercoaster of fear, self-doubt, stress and anxiety is counter balanced with the elation of an occasional ‘win’ and the satisfaction of achieving certain milestones. If balance is the goal, then it would be prudent to smooth out those ups and downs.

Innovators are also leaders

While dealing with these ups and downs, a founder, who is also often a leader for a team of people, can become inwardly focused. This can lead to dysfunctions in team dynamics, relationships, planning and execution since an effective leader must be present and able to “give a part of themselves and their energy” to their team. Without a strong foundation and skillset in mental fortitude, and the ability to manage through personal and professional challenges, nature ends up taking over.

Managing our instinctual survival mechanisms

I’m referring to the general survival mechanism people often refer to as ‘fight or flight’. It doesn’t take much for this natural and instinctual mechanism to kick in. When it does, the results are often self-defeating. “Fight” can lead to aggressiveness, emotional outbursts, confrontational behaviour, defensiveness, stubbornness, non-coachability, tunnel vision (in perception), anger, frustration and many other things. “Flight” can lead to withdrawal, anxiety, sadness, loss of hope, avoidance of addressing critical matters, inward focus, abandonment of ideas, loss of passion, low energy, and self-defeating mindset among others.

We should be optimistic and empowered to know that we are not entirely controlled by these factors. We have a choice – and this is what I call personal power. We are able to observe and become aware of our own tendencies, and make decisions to change them to allow us to achieve our personal purpose or mission. Doing this improves our personal and professional effectiveness.

A process for personal effectiveness and resiliency

This is a process that takes time and practice. It can help to find a good coach who is well versed in concepts related to psychology and human nature to help guide you. In one way, I look at this process as having a conversation, dialogue maybe even an argument with yourself. This dialogue helps you to probe and understand your individual nature, and to challenge yourself. With this, intrinsic motivation can be developed and used to reject and invalidate roadblocks and excuses, and continue moving forward by embracing positive change in your life. The motivation to do this must come from within.

The brain likes to resist change. However, to achieve whatever your personal higher purpose or mission is, some change is usually required. After all, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. Use your purpose as a guiding light to align your activities and behaviours. You’ll feel like you’re being true to yourself this way and feel good about your efforts, sacrifices and hard work.

Unlock your brilliance and potential

There’s no reason that the pressures, challenges and emotional effects of entrepreneurship should prevent brilliant people like you from positively impacting the lives of many others. With the right support and guidance, negative and destructive energy can be repurposed and redirected towards positive outcomes. Every entrepreneur has unlimited brilliance and potential inside them, and they also have the power to discover and tap into it.

Reach out if you’d like to chat about your journey, I’m always happy to help.

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