May 302017
 
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How And Why To Embrace The Naysayers – Revisited

How do you react when naysayers inevitably tell you that you cannot do something that you’re trying to accomplish?

Do you let the naysayers’ negativity get you down and cause you to stop pursuing what you’ve set out to get done?

Or, do you let it fuel your fire and make you more determined than ever to accomplish your goals and dreams?

I used to let the naysayers get me down and cause me to question what I was doing. That was during a time when I was more concerned about what others thought, and in reality, I guess, I was trying to please them more than myself.

It’s kind of absurd, isn’t it, that sometimes we live our lives more to please others, even total strangers, than we do to please ourselves and those who should truly matter to us? I find this to be especially true during the current age of social media, where given the overexposure to the lives of others, there’s a constant temptation to measure ourselves against others on trivial matters, rather than focusing on trying to make progress in areas of our lives that really matter.

In my own experience and observation, few people are more exposed to the full-on assault of naysayers than are entrepreneurs. Naysayers have a field day with entrepreneurs because, by definition, an entrepreneur is trying to ‘do their own thing’, to start a business, rather than just working for someone else.

The mentality of an entrepreneur, which includes a desire, even an eagerness to chart new territory and to turn the status quo upside down, is anathema to the mindset of a naysayer, who typically is very committed to keeping everyone just as miserable as he or she is! They do not want to see change, and they certainly don’t want to see anyone trying to do his or her own thing, which may lead to success and make them untouchable to the negativity of the naysayer.

In my experience, most naysayers do not have a great self-image. This can be the case due to the way they’ve been treated in the past or due to failures that they’ve had. In reality, it can be due to a whole host of factors, but regardless of the source(s) of their negativity, over the course of time, it becomes their identity. It’s simply who they are and they see it as their job to point out what is wrong with everyone else’s activities, ideas and opinions.

So, what’s an entrepreneur to do with so many naysayers and so much negativity in the world?

I think the answer is that you should embrace the naysayers! I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it can work. It has worked for me.

What do I mean by embrace the naysayers?

I mean you shouldn’t try to ignore them.  You shouldn’t try to ‘talk sense into them’. You should listen to what they have to say (one time) and take it into account as you carry on toward reaching your goals and dreams.

In fact, I take it a step further and say that you should appreciate them and you should realize that sometimes they have valid points, even if inadvertently. You should also appreciate the fact that, given how negative they are, they’re very unlikely to ever present any real competition for you! With such a glass-is-half-empty mentality, their probability of success in entrepreneurship, an endeavor that requires enduring and learning from many failures before you achieve success, is quite low.

So, be glad naysayers exist and give them their due, but then move on and do your thing. Surround yourself with as many positive people as you can, but don’t avoid those with opinions that differ from your own! If you surround yourself with ‘yes people,’ then you’ll essentially be ‘drinking your own bath water’ all the time and will greatly increase the probability that you will get blindsided in your business and in your life.

Have you hugged a naysayer today?

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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Apr 262012
 
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push beyond

Want Extraordinary Results?  Push Beyond.

Achieving extraordinary results is not the domain of those who are not willing to leave their comfort zone; it is the territory of those who are willing to push beyond.

This means that just at the moment you feel like you cannot take any more, you need to reach deep inside and push beyond the pain you are feeling, assuming you can do so without causing any permanent damage.  Let me emphasize that qualification:  assuming you can do so without causing any permanent damage.

What does this mean in practicality?  Well, I do a lot of consulting and coaching in both business and in the sports world (particularly soccer), so I need to differentiate between those two worlds.  In the business world, pushing beyond typically means doing things that you’re not necessarily comfortable with, for example, making sales calls.  In the sports world, it usually means that just when you think that you cannot do any more (reps, distance, practice, etc.), you’ve usually arrived at the point where you’re in a position to learn and make true gains.  In both worlds, this must be done in the context of preserving both your physical and mental health.  Furthermore, you must learn to take responsibility for knowing yourself and recognizing when “a push beyond” may actually cause you serious and potentially permanent damage.  There’s often a fine line between making extraordinary gains and causing irreparable damage.  Top achievers learn to walk that line very carefully.

So why do I bring up this concept of pushing beyond?  In my own experience and in my observation of those whom I train and advise, it is only those who are willing to push the limits that truly accomplish extraordinary things.  Think about it.  If you are someone who is comfortable with just doing the minimum or doing what everyone else is willing to do, how can you expect to achieve extraordinary results?  By definition, anything that is extraordinary is not ordinary!  It cannot be achieved by ordinary means, except with a big dose of luck.  If you’re a high achiever, or aspire to be one, you cannot be content to let luck play too big a part in your success.  Rather, you must learn to take control of your own destiny, commit yourself to achieving the challenging goals you set, then be willing to push beyond when pain, fatigue and other issues such as fear of failure get in your way.  You have to commit to yourself that you will do whatever it takes, within reason, to make your goals a reality.

In soccer there’s a term you hear used frequently called “work rate”.  You’ll hear coaches and announcers say, “Her (or his) work rate is excellent”.  This means that the player is putting in a significant effort.  He or she is not standing around hoping that good things will happen.  Rather, they are being proactive and working hard to create opportunities for themselves and for their teammates and limit opportunities for the opposing team.  In other words, they are doing what they can to take control of their own destiny, in that game or practice, and by extension, in their career and their lives.  The same holds true in business.  A person’s work rate can have a profound effect on the ultimate success they achieve.  Granted, luck will always play some part, but the achiever does everything they can, in their power, to achieve the goals and results they are seeking.  This includes pushing beyond when things get tough.

How is your work rate?  Do you push beyond when the going gets tough?  Take an honest look at how you approach the endeavors that are important to you.  Make adjustments as necessary and I’m confident that you will begin to see results that are more in line with what you are hoping to achieve.

I look forward to your thoughts.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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Sep 182011
 
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Can entrepreneurship be taught?

Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?

A question I get quite frequently is, “Can entrepreneurship be taught”?  It’s a tough question and the answer is highly dependent on how you define “entrepreneurship,” so let’s start there.  If you look in Webster’s dictionary online (http://www.merriam-webster.com), there is no separate definition for entrepreneurship, but here’s the definition you find for entrepreneur:

One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.

Frankly, I find that definition a bit lacking, as it’s very dry and does not embody any of the spirit or mindset it takes to be an entrepreneur.

If you take a look at first the definition of entrepreneur on thefreedictionary.com it’s similarly unexciting and dry, but a bit further down there is another definition that is more in line with the way I think about entrepreneurship.  That definition is:

The owner or manager of a business enterprise who, by risk and initiative, attempts to make profits.

This one appeals to me a bit more, because entrepreneurship is all about taking initiative, and the motivation for taking that initiative and assuming the related risks, is usually to make profits.

We could wordsmith the definitions of entrepreneur and entrepreneurship all day long, but the definition above should be sufficient to allow us to think more about the question at hand: Can entrepreneurship be taught?

The short preview of my opinion is that I believe certain aspects of running a business can be taught very well; however, the “entrepreneurial mindset” is difficult to teach and correspondingly tough to learn, but for the most part, it is possible.  In order to look at this aspect of the mindset a bit further, let’s review my list of the 5 Key Character Traits To Be Successful As An Entrepreneur.  Though I acknowledge that this is not an exhaustive list, in my opinion, the five key traits are as follows:

1.)  Perseverance

Having been in the entrepreneurship game for more than 30 years now, I have learned that, without a doubt, if you don’t have perseverance, you are highly unlikely to achieve any meaningful level of success as an entrepreneur.  Although you may plan and do your best to predict the future, I haven’t met anyone who can do that with 100% accuracy.  Therefore, there are going to be unforeseen challenges and you will need to persevere in order to overcome them.  The good news is that, like many of the key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, this one can be learned — you don’t need to be born with it.

2.)  Goal Setting

I’m not sure this is one that I would always have included on this list, but over time, I have learned that the ability to set goals correctly, monitor progress toward those goals, adjust course as necessary, and make sure they are completed regardless of the obstacles you encounter, is critical to the success of most entrepreneurs.  The alternative is to not set goals, but where does that leave you?  As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.  Setting goals and keeping them on your radar on a regular basis can also help to keep you motivated and on track when times are tough.

3.)  Tolerate Uncertainty

One thing most successful entrepreneurs I know do very well is to tolerate uncertainty.  They are comfortable and very often stimulated in situations of uncertainty.  Unlike many other traits, this is one that may be difficult (but still possible) to learn — to some extent, you’re either born with it, or you’re not.  Those of you who have sought certainty and predictability in your careers and elsewhere in your lives may find it very challenging to be in the relatively chaotic world of entrepreneurship, particularly at the early stage of a venture.  In your case, you would be wise to associate yourself with others you know who perhaps have more of a tolerance for those situations, so you can lean on them a bit when the inevitable chaos and uncertainty arrive.  You may also want to take a role in the venture that allows you to deal with some of the tasks that are a bit more routine and predictable.

4.)  A Strong Desire to Succeed

Most of the great entrepreneurs I know have an extremely strong desire to be successful in everything they do.  They are usually quite competitive, sometimes to an annoying degree and sometimes regarding tasks that, at least on the surface, don’t seem very important.  This drive to succeed is what pushes them to be the pioneer, to take the proverbial arrows, while others are content to sit back and fall into a routine.  If you don’t have such a strong desire to succeed, this may be another one that is a bit difficult to learn — but I do think it’s possible.

5.)  Different Definition of Failure

Hardly any entrepreneurs in the history of time have achieved great success without a failure, usually many, many of them.  Sure, a few have done it, but some people have hit the lottery as well.  It happens, but it’s highly unusual.  Much more common among successful entrepreneurs, are stories of repeated failure — sometimes 10, 20 or more failures — then what appears to be a sudden success that came out of nowhere.  The reality is that it did not come out of nowhere; it came from the ability to learn and course-adjust, based on previous approaches that did not work.  As with achievement in most disciplines, mindset is everything as an entrepreneur.  This is best illustrated by a comment made by Thomas Edison, when someone asked him if he had failed on a particular experiment.  His response was to the effect, “no, I just eliminated another way that does not work.”

So, let’s take a look at each of these traits in a bit more depth at it relates to “teachability”.  In the case of perseverance, perhaps the most important trait, let’s say it can be learned but cannot be taught.  A coach or other third party may be able to help you push your way through difficult situations (i.e. persevere), but the drive to do so must come from inside.  Another person can teach you how to set goals correctly.  They can also teach you and encourage you to monitor your progress toward those goals and to course-correct along the way.  A third part cannot teach you to have a personality or mindset that tolerates uncertainty well, at least not easily.  Your risk and uncertainty tolerance is something you’ve developed over a lifetime, so it’s not easy to change.  It’s possible, but only with concerted effort and incremental progress, mainly on your part.  A coach or mentor can encourage you in this process, but the desire to change will need to come from within.  If you are to develop a strong desire to succeed, that too will have to come from within.  Again, outside parties can encourage you, however, the desire will have to come from you, and it will likely be based on how important your goals are to you.  You need to set goals that really get you “fired up”.  You can redefine your definition of failure and this is something that can be taught.  It may take some time, but it is vital to your success as an entrepreneur.  If you are going to look at every small bump in the road as a failure and allow it to cause you to get off track, rather than learning from it and moving on, entrepreneurship is going to be a very tough road for you.

In summary, in my opinion, many aspects of entrepreneurship, include some parts of the “entrepreneurial mindset” can be taught and learned.  For all aspects though, the desire to learn and continue becoming a better and more successful entrepreneur will need to come from within.  You will need the drive to succeed that leads to the willpower to overcome obstacles and “make it happen”.  If you don’t have, or can’t muster this drive and willpower, no amount of teaching or learning is likely to allow you to become a successful entrepreneur.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but we’ve had a few get caught up in the filter.

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Apr 252011
 
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No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.
___________
Isaac Newton

In entrepreneurship, as in science, you are not always going to have all the facts before you embark on your next venture (experiment). It is therefore critical to develop the skill of gathering what data you can, forming one or several hypotheses, then using your intuition and perseverance to discover “reality” and make your way toward your goals. As entrepreneurs and achievers, we all know this to be true, but it is nice to hear it from one of the great scientists of history as well. Intuition plays a significant role in all speculative endeavors.
.

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Oct 182010
 
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A friend recently asked me what I thought were the top five character traits one must have (or develop) to be successful as an entrepreneur.  As I started to think it through, I realized that it’s not easy to distill all the important characteristics of an entrepreneur down to just five, but here’s what I came up with, in no particular order of importance.

1.)  Perseverance

Having been in the entrepreneurship game for more than 30 years now, I have learned that, without a doubt, if you don’t have perseverance, you are highly unlikely to achieve any meaningful level of success as an entrepreneur.  Although you may plan and do your best to predict the future, I haven’t met anyone who can do that with 100% accuracy.  Therefore, there are going to be unforeseen challenges and you will need to persevere in order to overcome them.  The good news is that, like many of the key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, this one can be learned — you don’t need to be born with it.

2.)  Goal Setting

I’m not sure this is one that I would always have included on this list, but over time, I have learned that the ability to set goals correctly, monitor progress toward those goals, adjust course as necessary, and make sure they are completed regardless of the obstacles you encounter, is critical to the success of most entrepreneurs.  The alternative is to not set goals, but where does that leave you?  As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.  Setting goals and keeping them on your radar on a regular basis can also help to keep you motivated and on track when times are tough.

3.)  Tolerate Uncertainty

One thing most successful entrepreneurs I know do very well is to tolerate uncertainty.  They are comfortable and very often stimulated in situations of uncertainty.  Unlike many other traits, this is one that may be difficult to learn — to some extent, you’re either born with it, or you’re not.  Those of you who have sought certainty and predictability in your careers and elsewhere in your lives may find it very challenging to be in the relatively chaotic world of entrepreneurship, particularly at the early stage of a venture.  In your case, you would be wise to associate yourself with others you know who perhaps have more of a tolerance for these situations, so you can lean on them a bit when the inevitable chaos and uncertainty arrive.  You may also want to take a role in the venture that allows you to deal with some of the tasks that are a bit more routine and predictable.

4.)  A Strong Desire to Succeed

Most of the great entrepreneurs I know have an extremely strong desire to be successful in everything they do.  They are usually quite competitive, sometimes to an annoying degree and sometimes regarding tasks that, at least on the surface, don’t seem very important.  This drive to succeed is what pushes them to be the pioneer, to take the proverbial arrows, while others are content to sit back and fall into a routine.  If you don’t have such a strong desire to succeed, this may be another one that is a bit difficult to learn — I think it’s possible, but to some extent you’re either born with this desire (or had it ingrained in you as a child), or you’re not.

5.)  Different Definition of Failure

Hardly any entrepreneurs in the history of time have achieved great success without a failure, usually many, many of them.  Sure, a few have done it, but some people have hit the lottery as well.  It happens, but it’s highly unusual.  Much more common among successful entrepreneurs, are stories of repeated failure — sometimes 10, 20 or more failures — then what appears to be a sudden success that came out of nowhere.  The reality is that it did not come out of nowhere; it came from the ability to learn and course-adjust, based on previous approaches that did not work.  Mindset is everything as an entrepreneur.  This is best illustrated by a comment made by Thomas Edison, when someone asked him if he had failed on a particular experiment.  His response was to the effect, “no, I just eliminated another way that does not work.”

As I mentioned up-front, this list of key successful entrepreneur character traits is not exhaustive, but these are the key traits that are top-of-mind for me.  In reality, entrepreneurship is a complex undertaking, so there’s a large number of traits that explain success and failure.  Let me know your thoughts on some of the key ones I may have missed here.  To the extent that you believe you are deficient in some of the important characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, find people you can work with to complement your strengths.  And to the extent that the traits are learnable, keep working to improve.  The desire to continually improve should probably be number six on this list.

Let me know your thoughts.

Paul Morin
paul@companyfounder.com
www.companyfounder.com.

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