'Independence is for the very few; it is a privilege of the strong.
And whoever attempts it even with the best right but without inner constraint proves that
he is probably not only strong, but also daring to the point of recklessness.
He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life brings with it in any case,
not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way,
becomes lonely, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience.
Supposing one like that comes to grief, this happens so far from the comprehension
of men that they neither feel it nor sympathise.
And he cannot go back any longer.
Nor can he go back to the pity of men.'
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
I do not pretend for one second to be an expert in psychology or understand fully the genius of Friedrich Nietzsche. But I do understand the strength and discipline required to build a company and in taking calculated risks. Unfortunately I also know the loneliness when the walls crumble around you and you are left high and dry by the endeavours of the unscrupulous!
Nietzsche may not of had the entrepreneur spirit in mind when he composed the masterful words above, but when I first read them they struck a chord so deep within me that I knew others would surely relate to them too; especially those that have already trodden the narrow path and once more find themselves carving a new path in life.
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted, you have to take certain levels of risk; there’s no way to success by playing it too safe. Even after protecting the downsides, there's still an element of risk. After all, if you find a path with no obstacles it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.
Yet, once we take a few risks and then a few more, we gain a sense of momentum, and life is fine and dandy. But little did we know controlling every outside force; be it banks, recessions, competitors, suppliers or even the minds of our employees, is beyond us all. But when a little success and money finally arrives it bolsters our egos beyond recognition; suddenly we believe our IQ’s exceed those of others and that with a little more daring effort we will ride any storm. After all we did it before, we’ll do it again.
The problems come when assumptions and recklessness undermines the whole structure of your business. And when the time comes that you believe your assumptions are the truths and your recklessness calculated, it may be too late to turn back.
I hope the time has not yet arrived where your ego determines your attitude, because the following observations could help you avoid falling into your own labyrinth of recklessness.
1. Study others failures.
A successful man is always asked, ‘What is the secret of your success?’ People never ask a man who is a failure, ‘What is the secret of your failure?’ It’s quite easy to see they are not interested. Yet to study the failures of others is as important, if not more so, than studying others successes.
2. Choose your influencers wisely.
Create your own support group. You simply cannot do everything yourself, you will just run yourself ragged and burnout. And once your mind starts to burn out you take advice from others who have neither the experience of such matters, or try to manipulate your fragile ego into believing they have your best intentions to hand.
You need people who knew you before you were successful. You also need mentors who have trodden the path before and whose success to date outshines yours. You need people who will tell you that you're being an idiot, and most importantly you need YOU to put your ego to one side, step outside of yourself and dissociate yourself with everything around you. This is far easier to write down than to do. As it takes years of meditation and self-reflection to achieve, so you had better start today!
Nothing remains static, everything must change. You are either on an upward spiral or a downward spiral. And the same holds true of your influencers. Make it your duty to read signals in their own lives, of course this is easier with spouses and very close friends, but when it comes to your managers and fellow directors it is less so; and can cause even greater disruption than you can imagine. Keep in mind mood swings, employees irritability, drinking habits, sexual habits and their marriage. It pays to be nosey, but try to be subtle Sherlock!
It is an ongoing pursuit to ensure your support group is worthy of you; whilst dissociating your ego! Yet from personal experience I know this is both a priority and your duty not to make assumptions about the lives of those whose influence carries your business in the balance. The downward spiral of others is like a vortex that has the ability to violently pull your dreams, life and business into, leaving you to ponder; #WTF happened then!!!
3. Cross the bridges and let them burn.
How poetic! It has always been said that by giving yourself no escape route then you must survive. Surviving is not the issue, surviving whilst paying the mortgage is.
You need a contingency plan for a contingency plan. Let the bridge burn and master the theatrics to inspire the minds of your followers, but down the river have several rafts built, hidden and protected.
Whilst retreating from Russia in the winter of 1812, Napoleon ordered all of the pontoon bridge materials to be destroyed; used for firewood and lighten the loads through the heavy snow. The younger Napoleon of Austerlitz would never have dreamed of such a thing. Dramatically the Grande Army were forced to change directions of their retreat; through the constant pressure and vigilance of fresh Russian troops. Now Napoleon faced crossing the Berezina or annihilation of the remnants of the greatest army ever to be formed.
Luckily for Napoleon, a wily old engineer did not carry out the instructions of the Emperor and saved enough equipment to create two ‘rickety’ bridges over the freezing waters. The battle of Berezina was fought and the Grande Army forced their way back to Poland with heroic fortitude.
Your to do list as an entrepreneur is never ending, but hand this over to your sub-conscious mind and a never ending list of contingencies will emerge; no idea is ridiculous, just keep notes and be creative with the suggestions your subconscious sends to you.
4. When is enough enough?
I detest the word hindsight. People will say if I had the hindsight for this or for that my life would be so different. Your ‘hindsight’ consists of educating your mind to listen to ‘everything’, as simple as that. Hindsight = Regrets, and life’s too short for regrets.
As you make your way through life you must determine future cut off points; all of which reassess what is working or not working or even envelopes a complete exit strategy. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle choice, that operates 24/7, enough is enough incorporates every single detail in your life, be it relationships, exercise routine, pastimes or cash flow, you are your brand.
Power is such a potent mixture that you can easily fall into the belief your importance and being is critical to the lives of others. Breaking news… The world does not revolve around you, you are not a gravy train! To lift others higher and help them create a true purpose for themselves is honourable, but to believe the power of your own indispensability and myth is a crock of crap. Life goes on with or without you; sure it’s tough for loved ones, but as for employees or work partners, they will adapt and overcome. Pre-set a cut off point today; be it 100k in the bank, your house paid for or settle for a cool million. Just do it and stay disciplined and true to you.
5. Paralysis by over analysis.
Over thinking to the point of not acting is just as dangerous as not thinking in the first place.
My personal philosophy is dedicated to ‘leadership within’, no one knows you better than you do, no one knows the conversations you have with yourself; unless you talk out loud and you should really stop doing that! We can’t rush discipline and our futures, as Warren Buffet says, ‘You can’t make a baby in a month by getting nine women pregnant, some things just take time.’ But the most important thing is to get in the game, discipline yourself and then date nine women at once. (Just seeing if you were paying attention still).
Remember the old school dances when you and your friends would line up against the wall and eye up the talent lining up on the other side of the hall; who were pretending not to be watching you. You would be fretting and over analysing your own weaknesses and not playing to your strengths. Before you knew it the night was over, the lights come on and you didn’t get the dance and kiss you dreamed of the night before. You edge your way out of the door as fast as you can, whilst avoiding all eye contact with the other sex.
Well now you’re older and a little wiser, yet the lessons still remain the same… YOU MUST DANCE!
You must get into the action to get the action. And on the days you are rejected and not successful you must practice some more and get on another dance floor.
You can never go back to those still standing with their backs against the wall. They’ll have no sympathy or pity for something they have no courage for. It only highlights their own weaknesses. They will never feel the music like you, you have the soul of an entrepreneur and only people like you will truly understand you.
Keep an open mind, stay alert, don’t become complacent after a little victory and stay in the thick of the action, whilst dancing your little socks off, of course :)
By Mark Weeks
Creator of Azuni Book World and URConqueror.
Author of Mum Ultrapreneur & Code of the Conqueror: The Journey