May 232017

Confidence Is Vital To Be An Outstanding Entrepreneur

In my experience and observation, confidence is an important characteristic of almost every successful entrepreneur.

Think about the entrepreneurs you know. I’m sure you know some who are successful and achieve or exceed the results they seek on a consistent basis. I’m sure you also know some who rarely if ever achieve their desired results. How many of the ‘successful’ entrepreneurs you know exhibit a high level of confidence? I’m willing to bet that it’s most, if not all of them.

I’ve had the good fortune of interacting with a large number of successful entrepreneurs over the years. Almost to a person, the successful entrepreneurs with whom I’ve interacted are very confident people! What do I mean by confident? I don’t mean that they’re arrogant or braggarts, though some certainly are. I don’t mean that they flaunt their wealth or success, though some certainly do. I don’t mean that they live in a la-la-land of irrational positivity. And I definitely don’t mean that they’re overconfident, such that they’re unwilling to learn from their mistakes, blindly believing that they’re always right.

I also don’t mean that they’ve always been very confident. Many of them I’ve known for a large number of years, long before they became successful entrepreneurs. They didn’t always exude this confidence that I now see in them as successful entrepreneurs.

What I do mean is that they have a belief in their ideas and in their ability to execute on their vision for their businesses. They have a strong belief in the importance of their mission as entrepreneurs, a level of belief so strong that many would describe it as a conviction. This conviction gives them confidence that is communicated both verbally and non-verbally in all their actions related to their businesses. They exude confidence and belief that their businesses will be successful and they will reach their goals in life.

Why is this confidence so important?

First, this confidence and belief are contagious. Anyone with whom these entrepreneurs interact can feel their confidence, which tends to help make them believers as well. It makes them believers in the entrepreneur, in the business, and in the products and services it provides. An entrepreneur who doesn’t project such confidence doesn’t enjoy this same highly paved path to engendering belief in others. It’s a sort of belief facilitator.

Second, given the confidence these entrepreneurs have, they do not hesitate to talk to others and tell them all about their business and the great products and services it has to offer. In most, there is quite literally zero hesitation.

Third, with such confidence, these entrepreneurs don’t hesitate to go after opportunities that come across their desks or they observe in the marketplace. There are no thoughts such as “can we do that” or “will others do it better”. Rather, given their confidence, these entrepreneurs know that they can provide a better solution than their competitors (even if this is stretch sometimes…) and they happily will tell their prospects so.

Fourth, possessing such confidence, these entrepreneurs typically approach opportunities, challenges and all interactions with a high level of energy. This energy is also infectious and helps them to persuade others, including members of their teams, that now is the time to take initiative and accomplish whatever goal they have in their sights. Thus, they are able to project their confidence and energy on others, further increasing their odds of success in any particular initiative or challenge.

So, are you ready to increase your level of confidence and start approaching your business and your life with this newfound confidence?

How do you gain more confidence? Well, some people are born with it. Some have it cultivated in them from a young age by parents and others who tell them they believe in them and that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. For most people, though, confidence develops over a period of time, based on a series of small successes that when taken together, cause the person to think, “hey, I may not be so bad at this after all”.

You need to give yourself opportunities to succeed, and rather than always being your own biggest critic, acknowledge, even if just in your own mind at the beginning, that you can and do add a lot of value in your business and elsewhere. You need to become your own biggest fan. Also, equally important, if not more important, you need to surround yourself with people who are there to help you accomplish your goals, rather than with people who constantly look for ways to tear you down.

This way, little by little, you will develop all the confidence you need to be successful as an entrepreneur and in whatever other endeavors you pursue. I guarantee you that once you gain and exude this confidence, you will be amazed by the outstanding results it typically brings you as an entrepreneur. Again, we’re not talking about being over-confident and arrogant – humility is always important – we’re talking about a belief in yourself and what you’re doing that is contagious and infects those with whom you come in contact.


Paul Morin


Aug 042011

A Leader’s Dream.  Or Nightmare?

I recently had an experience where I was coaching someone and something happened that made a big impression on me.  It’s certainly not the first time something similar has happened, but this time it really affected me.  We were talking through how to prepare for a certain event and I told him, you will need a schedule in which you detail what you are going to do daily over the next four months.  He said to me, “Please make me the schedule and I will just follow it”.

My first thought was, ok, this is perfect – I will just make the schedule – it will save me a lot of time if I don’t have to explain it and the result will likely be the same – a leader’s dream, right?  Given what I do for a living on the coaching side, which is work with entrepreneurs, senior executives and other high-achievers to help them achieve peak performance, I quickly had to step back and point out to myself that the easiest route is not always the best route.

Sure, by just setting up the schedule and letting him perform the activities like a mindless automaton, he probably could have performed quite well on this particular project.  However, where would he be on the next project?  Would I really have been doing my job as a coach and a leader?  Some would argue yes, that the simple, straightforward, mindless approach was fine, as long as the results of the project were good – the ends justify the means argument.

I came to a different conclusion.  Even though it cost me and the person I was coaching a bit of extra time, I decided it was worth it to walk that person through the rationale for each activity and the timing of each activity on the schedule.   How do you think this went?  You are correct – it was “like pulling teeth”.  The “mentee” already had his mind up that he did not want to know any of “the why”; he simply wanted to know exactly what he needed to do, then go do it.

This led me to a few specific conclusions about this individual and one general and more troubling thought.  First, I realized that unless this person changed their mindset, they were not likely to progress much further in that particular field of endeavor.  Second, I also concluded that without a change of approach, this person could not very easily become a leader – after all, how could they ever lead someone else if they themselves did not want to understand the “why” behind what needed to be done?  Finally, I concluded that while this approach of “tell me exactly what, how and when to do it” may work for some relatively simple tasks and situations, as soon as this “paint by the numbers” trainee ran into a more complex and dynamic scenario, they would likely have no idea what to do.  That is not very useful in the exceptionally dynamic world in which we live.

The more general and troubling thought I had based on this interaction is that this individual is not unique.  There is a massive group of people out there, probably a significant percentage of the Earth’s population, who would rather be told exactly what to do than to have to spend one second thinking for themselves.  That is a scary thought indeed!  You can call it human nature if you’d like.  You can call it laziness.  But whatever you call it, it’s hard to disagree that if we only have a small percentage of the population willing and capable of thinking and planning for themselves, we have a real problem!  We must also ask ourselves how we can change this.  On a macro level, it’s going to be a tremendous challenge, starting at the beginning of how we raise and educate our children.  On the micro level, we stand a better chance of making a positive change in the short term.

What if, in our businesses and any organization in which we participate or lead, we slowly, but surely push ourselves and those around us to cease being automatons and start thinking for themselves?  Do you think we’d develop more effective organizations that way?  Do you think we’d develop organizations that are more capable of adapting to our dynamic, rapidly changing macroeconomic and global political environment?  I would say that the answer to these questions is a resounding, “Yes”!  We must create more leaders, not more followers.  Through our leadership, we must strive not to tell our followers exactly what to do and be content when they obey our orders.  That will not get us nearly as far as creating followers who are capable of thinking for themselves and becoming the next generation of leaders.  If we don’t do this, then who will become the leaders of the next generation?  How will they know how to lead?  Will they even want to try to lead?

Given the time pressures we are all under, it would be easier to just make the schedules and task lists for our followers, but we need to resist that temptation.  Work with your team, your mentees, your followers, your children and anyone else you may influence to teach them how to think for themselves.  Reward them for thinking and for being creative.  Tell them that the end result matters.  Of course, it always matters.  But emphasize to them that it is much more important that they can figure out how to get to that end result individually and in collaboration with their team, than that they can do a specific set of well-defined tasks from rote memory.  Reward problem-solving initiative and creativity as much or more than you reward results on specific tasks.

Another related and very important topic, which is too much to cover in detail in this article, is the importance of willpower in overcoming any problem.  Regardless of how well you teach your team to solve problems, unless they have the willpower (perseverance, determination) to follow through until the job is done and the goal is reached, it will be all for nothing.  As a leader, you must help your team develop not just the knowledge and capabilities necessary to succeed in dynamic environments, you also must help them develop the confidence and perseverance necessary to follow through until the desired results have been attained.  That’s the topic for another discussion.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Paul Morin

Jun 202011

Where Does Greatness Come From?

Let’s focus in on human greatness here, as there are a lot of types of greatness in the world. So, where does human greatness come from? No one knows exactly, but I will give you some ideas of the steps to get there, based on my in-depth study of over 250 of the all-time great historical figures in a variety of fields, as well as my interviews and conversations with a large sample of contemporary greats, in fields ranging from entrepreneurship, to the military, to science, sports and many others.

The first and most important lesson is that generally speaking, people are not “born great,” simply knowing from the very start that they are gifted in a certain area and that they will become one of the “greats” in that area. As previously discussed, as much as there’s a great deal of folklore and exaggerated stories out there to that effect, most human beings do not become great at something from one minute to the next, without a huge, concerted and inspired effort. The common wisdom now is that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to move from beginner to expert in a particular endeavor. That does not necessarily make you “great” of course, but usually, if done correctly, it will at least get you to “expert” status. You will know more and be better at your chosen endeavor than the vast majority of the remainder of the human population.

So if it’s relatively clear what it typically takes to become an expert in a field, is it also clear what it takes to achieve “greatness” in a particular endeavor or field? Unfortunately, not really. In my experience as an advisor and coach and in my research, I have found a wide variety of paths to greatness. That’s good news and bad news, as the saying goes. It’s good news, since even if you are not or have not been on a particular path, it doesn’t, de facto, mean that you cannot become great in your chosen field or endeavor. It’s bad news because it doesn’t give us one well-defined path to zoom in on in an effort to achieve greatness. That being said, in my experience and my research, I have found some common threads of the path to greatness. I will lay out those commonalities in the form of a ten-step process to become great at anything. There are no guarantees, of course, as most of the hard work rests on your shoulders, but by using this approach, in my opinion, you will maximize the probability that you can become “one of the greats” in your endeavor.

The first step is to identify the area of greatness that you are pursuing. You should be as specific as you can, given that the more nebulous you leave it, the more difficult you will find it to make focused efforts toward achieving your goal in the steps that follow.

The second step is to uncover the key requirements to become great in your chosen endeavor. The four main approaches you will pursue in uncovering these requirements will be the following:

a. Go directly to the “horse’s mouth”. That is, you should contact one or several people who have already done what you’re trying to do – become great in your field – and ask them how they did it. Try to get as many specifics as possible.

b. Talk to one or several coaches in that domain. These could also be referred to as subject matter experts (SMEs) or maybe even SMEs with a bit extra, as they have chosen to be coaches and thus are likely oriented toward understanding how to maximize performance in your particular endeavor.

c. Read books by experts in the field. Reading appeals to some folks and does not appeal to others. There are also many books on tape now, which you can listen to when you are driving or exercising. If you are more oriented toward learning from video, you should also be able to find plenty of resources in that medium.

d. Watch true professionals in action. If what you’re trying to become great at is a sport, watch as many events as you can, but don’t just watch as a fan or casual observer; watch as a student of the game. Likewise, if your focus is in business or another area, become a curious student of all that happens in your field.

The third step is to take stock of your natural abilities. Take a look at your physical and mental attributes. Don’t judge yourself or determine whether these attributes are good or bad at this point, just take stock. Are you exceptionally tall? Are you great with numbers? Etc.

The fourth step is to look at your strengths and weaknesses relative to what you’ve determined that it takes to be great in your chosen endeavor. You’ll want to go into great depth here, as understanding where your weaknesses are, for example, will allow you to structure your practice in a way that helps you to optimize your use of time and accelerate your road to greatness.

The fifth step is to focus in on your “why”? That is, why do you want to become great at this endeavor? What is it that’s driving you? Is it a “strong why”? In other words, do you think it is sufficiently strong to drive you to put in and maintain the extraordinary effort and concentration level that will be required to become great?

The sixth step is to set goals for yourself. You will want to set short-, medium- and long-term goals that take into account the requirements to become great, as well as the specific areas you’ve determined where you need to make improvements. Monitor progress toward your goals and make sure that you set a timeline for completion of each goal.

The seventh step is to constantly reinforce your belief that you can attain the goals that you’ve set for yourself to become great in your endeavor. This belief will be reinforced regularly if you have set your goals in a way that they are achievable on an incremental basis. Allow yourself to achieve small victories along the way, as this will nurture your belief. As with the later step of maintaining calm, you will also want to use positive self-talk and visualizations in this step.

The eighth step is to develop a detailed preparation schedule that is oriented toward reaching your goals and achieving greatness. Regardless of what your endeavor is, you may want to work with a coach or other qualified third party to ensure that your preparation schedule makes sense in terms of getting you to where you want to be without burning you out in the meantime.

The ninth step is to make sure that you have in place a calming mantra and approach for when you get into stressful situations on the road to achieving your goals. If you are trying to become great at anything, no matter what the field, it is inevitable that you will encounter some, maybe even a huge amount of stress along the way. You need an approach to deal with fear and stress and keep progressing toward greatness. That approach will likely involve extensive use of positive self-talk and visualization.

The tenth step is to constantly work on and nourish your will to succeed and concentrate. In fact, based on my experience and research, this may be the most important step and factor in your success. There are very few exceptions among the historical and contemporary greats that did not have to exercise enormous power of will and concentration, usually on many, many occasions. Becoming an expert is challenging enough. Becoming great is another whole level and it almost always requires many instances of calling on massive willpower to overcome the inevitable obstacles that lie in the path to greatness.

We’ll go into each of these steps in much more detail, but this summary gives you an idea of the path you need to follow to move from beginner to expert, and then, if your “why,” your belief and your willpower are strong enough, on to greatness.

I look forward to your thoughts, comments and questions.

Paul Morin

May 022011

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Hellen Keller

This quote provides us with great wisdom from one of the most inspirational characters of modern history, Hellen Keller, who overcame deafness and blindness to make meaningful contributions to society. As her quote points out, it is not possible to accomplish anything meaningful, to overcome any difficult obstacle, without hope and confidence. In entrepreneurship, as in the rest of life, it does not serve us to come at challenges with a negative attitude. We must learn and hardwire into our brains that hope, optimism and confidence are fundamental ingredients in the world of achievers.


Taking Action

 Posted by at 7:17 am  Action, Doubt, Fear  No Responses »
Feb 072011

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.
Dale Carnegie

If you are having a bout of fear and doubt, you must take action! The longer you sit around and let your fears and doubts take hold, the more likely you are to let things get blown out of proportion. Take an action, however small it may seem, in the direction of solving the issue or confronting the fear at hand, and you will be amazed how this tends to gather momentum. Before you know it, you will have moved from fear and doubt to confidence and results.