How Tough Love Toughens Entrepreneurs and Makes Them Better
I felt inspired to write this blog after reading Aubrey’s “Conquering the Fear of Failure” post on her blog, The Taming of the Muse. She talks about how one must fail in order to grow. Meaning, it is through the feedback we receive through failure that we gain the knowledge that sticks with us (fortunately, this isn’t the only way we gain it, but it is, by far, one of the more impactful ways). Building upon this, when I was at MiSK Global Forum, I learned a quote that I, and many entrepreneurs, live by:
If you’re not making mistakes, you aren’t going fast enough.
So, suck it up, butter cup! This is the entrepreneur’s creed. You see, there is a LOT of competition to be the first on the market so that we can dominate the market. Because our vision is entirely unique, I know that if I don’t get to market with it first, I’ll lose to someone else who will deliver mediocre quality that never quite fits the needs of my customers — and I’m really tired of mayonnaise one-size-fits-all education — aren’t you?
The only way we really know what the customer’s needs are, and the only way we can design a solution that helps them entirely is that we must involve them in every step of the developmental process. But, we aren’t mind readers. So, we build and develop through iterations. I call it the “cardboard and duct tape” prototypes before we actually pour our soul into constructing the real thing. These prototypes are important, because we must learn quickly so that we can move fast.
This brings us the long way to the subject of my blog: tough self-love. My biggest enemy is the one that sits in my head. Entrepreneurs are cursed to be on this roller coaster ride of, “WEEEE! I’m on top of the world!” and, “OMG, WE ARE GONNA DIE!” In either state, there’s a part of us that wants to stay on the ground and stay put. Steven Pressfield talks about this a lot in his book, “Turning Pro.” He refers to this need to be safe and to resist change as the “Resistance.” I like to think of my resistance as the broken-down, gas guzzling, smoke-spewing eyesore of an old rusted pickup truck with a rusty motor that’s going down the highway at 30 miles an hour, and I’m behind it.
There’s a comfort behind this exceedingly slow car. It could be raining, the roads could be slick with ice, the terrain is incredibly rough with ups and downs, sharp turns and oh…did I mention? To the right is a 1000 foot sheer cliff drop down. Way down. So…maybe going 30 on the highway isn’t so bad, right? Except the smog from the truck will kill you, and if you stay this way, someone’s going to pass you and win. This resistance greets me every morning. So does the cliff. …and every day I fight it.
One of these days, I’m going to write the exact transcript of the self-talk that goes on in my head when I’m facing my resistance. It shows up when I face obstacles like finishing that grant, balancing my budget sheet, or something as simple as resisting the urge to get up from my computer to check out what’s in the refrigerator to munch on. Unfortunately, I may not get to share that transcript here, because my mother reads this blog, and I can only imagine the yelling I’d get from the not-so-ladylike language that I use on myself; the four-letter-expletives fly, and there’s enough creative name-calling in the dialogue that Trump would be inspired.
That’s my fight. I give myself tough love, and I don’t give in. You can’t build an empire on excuses, and so I curse my way up that damned highway so that I can get to a point where I’ve passed that resistance and can finally make progress. No lying, though. I fight this battle every day, and it doesn’t get easier. However, it does help when you can talk and curse about it in your head. ^.^