Entrepreneurship can be stressful. However, you cannot perform optimally if you are stressed out. And nothing will close the valves on your pipeline of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial momentum faster than stress.
The key is to not let stress dominate your experience. The way to prevent this from happening is to make it a habit to enjoy the ride--whatever ride you are on.
When I say habit, I mean your habitual way of being in the world, regardless of what is happening around you. This might sound foreign to you if you have never thought about it, but it is easier than you think. It just takes your commitment and practice:
Appreciate Your Surroundings
The first step to enjoying the ride is to appreciate your surroundings. Laurence Gonzales writes in his book, “Deep Survival,” that the people who get lost in the woods who make it out alive are those who stop and actually take in the beauty of their surroundings on a deep and spiritual level.
They are not distressed and lost in their heads about worst-case scenarios of what will happen to them. Instead, they are deeply present in the moment and appreciative of their environment. That appreciation allows them to move from a state of panic and stress to a state of calm and ingenuity.
It also allows them to accept the environment they are in and begin to engage with it fully, rather than being in resistance to it. Engaging fully with your environment is a necessary step to updating your mental model of it, so that you can make the best possible decisions with the most accurate information. I discussed this in greater detail in a previous article entitled, “Update Your Mental Model.”
Delight in Your Personality and Skill-Sets
While you are out there appreciating your surroundings, also delight in your personality and skill-sets. A common tendency of people under stress is to clamp down on who they are and start operating in "survival mode." This usually takes the form of not expressing their personality, not experimenting in their work with their inherent skill-sets, and generally attempting to conform to whatever behavior they think is "normal."
This strategy may be appropriate during a life-threatening situation caused by human conflict: during times of war, if you are being held-up at gunpoint, when politics comes up during a family Thanksgiving meal, or when your spouse has not had his/her morning coffee yet. It is meant to keep you safe in these situations.
However, survival mode does not work for entrepreneurship or any other processes that require your motivation and creativity. Rather, this type of emotional confinement creates even more stress, as it is a very uncomfortable state to be in for any prolonged period of time.
The cure for our tendency to enter survival mode is to instead see entrepreneurship as a series of experiments. The only way to conduct the experiments effectively is to delight in the process with our innate personalities and inherent skill-sets. This is the best way of getting into the flow and opening the valves on our pipeline of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial momentum.
Delighting in your personality and skill-sets also means putting yourself out there at the risk of not looking too good, doing things your way even if it deviates from the status quo, and trying things that resonate with you even if you could possibly fall on your face multiple times along the way before you finally get it right.
And Don't Take It Personally
Entrepreneurship is challenging. Challenges frequently lead to failures along the way. Failure is a form of feedback. Feedback always contains valuable insights. Insights and challenges help you grow and become successful. When in doubt, put yourself out there and get customer feedback. But don't take any of it personally.
Finally, remember that the ultimate expert on what you should do is you. If my previous sentence does not make sense to you, review my articles entitled, “Follow Your Intuition” and “Respect Your Emotions.”
Need further help along your journey getting customer feedback, developing your product and business model, or following any of my entrepreneurship tips? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org