As entrepreneurs, we all have a desire to grow, improve, and be successful. That desire, however, fluctuates. Sometimes our fire burns low, while other times it rages and inspires us to better ourselves, no matter what barriers stand in the way.
As I make my way to events for entrepreneurs and leaders and try learn from others, I’ve been studying a few entrepreneurs. In trying to discover what pushes them to keep going, I found some advice that just about any entrepreneur could benefit from. Here are four lessons I’ve learned that every entrepreneur should consider living by:
1. Look within and tap into your inner greatness.
Sometimes, the only person standing between me and my best self is … myself. My ego sometimes gets in the way of my creating the right habits and tapping into my true potential. It’s great if you think you’re good at what you do, but in reality, you can always be better.
It’s key not let your ego get in the way and convince you that there isn’t more to uncover within yourself. You’re a living and ever-changing being, and there are always deeper truths to what you’re capable of.
Failure is OK. The greatest entrepreneurs, leaders, and people failed at some point in their life, but if you consistently work hard, continue to learn, and surround yourself with great people, then you are set up to grow significantly as a person, and the best will come out of you.
2. Design your business around your passion.
My passion is driven by wanting to make things better. I’m continuously faced with challenges and barriers, but tackling them head-on always gives me fuel to keep going. For me, there really is no other way to approach business: Look at what’s challenging you and see how you can use your passion to activate change.
The same can be said of Dr. Terri Levine, leadership coach and author of multiple books, including “Turbocharge: How to Transform Your Business as a Heart-Repreneur.” Though she’s highly accomplished, Levine’s life has been anything but easy. A pivotal moment for Levine was a devastating accident in 2006 that led to a diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) that put her in a wheelchair for 18 months.
To this day, Dr. Levine pushes herself through her recurring health issues with both rehab and heart and has used her experiences to create an RSD foundation for kids. When speaking of her entrepreneurial journey, she says: “I really love being an entrepreneur. I’m allowed to use my expertise, my competencies, and my strengths to truly serve other people. I’ve not only been able to design a business around my passion that I could turn into profits, but have turned it into the chance to truly serve and support my client family members as well.”
Dr. Levine is passionate about entrepreneurship, and her advice to others is simple: “If you do the inner work of discovering your soul mission and getting heart-centered — getting the inner game of entrepreneurship right first — it allows you to get the outer actions in place to be very successful.” So, find out where your struggles are and whether they inspire true passion within you. Chances are, they could lead to a very successful entrepreneurial endeavor.
3. Don’t fear change — embrace it.
Change is scary. I try to be versatile, but if I’m being honest, I’m still scared of change. And maybe I always will be to some degree — especially now that I have a wife and two awesome kids. Who wants to change when you have such a great family to come home to? That doesn’t mean, however, that the members of my family want me to stay stagnant. Every day, they encourage me to reach my true potential, and reaching that potential requires constant change.
Irfan A. Khan, president and CEO of Bristlecone, has an extensive background with organizations such as Microsoft and Hughes Network Systems, but his turning point came in 2014 when he became president and CEO of Bristlecone. There he faced the enormous challenge of producing double-digit annual growth as part of the massive $19 billion Mahindra Group.
“As a company, we take our inspiration from the iconic bristlecone pine — a tree that lives for as long as 5,000 years in the most forbidding conditions, with little access to water and soil. It grows at an altitude of 5,000 to 10,000 feet and must survive strong winds and subzero temperatures,” Khan says. “In our industry — as in many of today’s businesses — we must survive and grow in the face of issues such as terrorism, natural disasters, changing legislation, geopolitical risks, and changing consumer preferences.”
What I liked about Khan is he didn’t fear change or challenges. He knew they would come and wanted to be ready. I consistently see great leaders welcome the opportunity to adapt their companies to thrive and evolve when challenges come at them. It’s not always how you grow in good times, but it’s how you survive when things aren’t great.
4. Find the teachable moments.
Teachable moments are the most valuable times to help yourself and the people around you. When a mistake is made, it’s crucial that everyone takes the opportunity to learn from it, regardless of who actually messed up.
Nobody is perfect, so it’s not about not making mistakes. It’s about how you handle them and limit the chance of the same mistakes being made in the future. True leaders can identify those teachable moments and communicate them effectively to their teams to help everyone grow.
This has been a huge problem for me because I want people to like working with me, and more importantly, I want to challenge them to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes those two things don’t go together well.
A friend of mine, Val Wright, wrote a book called “Thoughtfully Ruthless: The Key to Exponential Growth” about the balance between being thoughtful and being a successful leader who’s able to make all the right decisions. It’s taught me to balance the difficult task of challenging those I work with daily with maintaining a good rapport and being a leader that people can approach, talk to, and trust.
These leaders have offered wisdom and insights from their experiences, and each of them has helped me be a better leader. If you have an entrepreneur or colleague who inspires you, I challenge you to seek their advice. When entrepreneurs learn from each other and grow together, each of us is made better.
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