Surf the world wide web long enough and you’ll be sure to run the gamut of articles, programs, and “must-do” industry trends that focus on the role of entrepreneurship as a means to an end – a jet-setting lifestyle where everyone is a multimillionaire and an escape from the 9-to-5 ‘grind.’ Needless to say, terms like entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, and success are buzz-words these days thrown around by many seem to be doing absolutely nothing with their lives but need to pretend they are social media millionaires and give themselves a title suggesting some level of productivity and sensible livelihood when asked the question – “what do you do for a living?”
At the other end of the entrepreneur spectrum, are the ‘grinders’ who have it all figured out and are, thereby, above simple human functions and necessities like sleep and a social life. Still, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship are an important part of local and international economies in a world where technology has revolutionised old work structures – transforming how, where, and why we can work.
Exploring the role of entrepreneurship
At its core, entrepreneurship is about providing market-driven solutions to efficiently fix problems or meet needs. If you are any good at it, this should eventually result in financial and other material successes – and maybe even a jet-setting lifestyle if you so please – maybe. Whatever the rewards, entrepreneurship must serve a market purpose in order to be viable. Still, what is often missing from the discussion, is the reality of the entrepreneur being on a personal journey as well as a professional one.
The truth is, a very real excavation of the soul often takes place as the entrepreneur builds his or her life and business. As this happens, issues of confidence, competence, self-worth, and value all unwittingly come to the fore.
Building self-worth through self-compassion: The connection between competence and confidence
By offering themselves and their work for consumption, an entrepreneur must be fit for the task at hand. Competence is a must-have. Being competent is one thing, however. Having confidence in your skills and abilities play a major role in your success. As you develop your talents to the point of skill, your confidence in your ability to get the job done will increase. Yet, this is never really enough on its own. A deep-seated confidence in, and understanding of, the intrinsic nature of your self-worth, is needed to undergird the kind of confidence that comes with skill and achievement.
An often overlooked part of our journey as entrepreneurs is the importance of self-worth and being able to have self-compassion. The truth is, as an entrepreneur (as with just about everything in life) there will be times when you will fall short of your targets, you own expectations (and those of others), and experience seemingly outright ‘failure. If the only part of yourself that you have developed is the part that speaks directly to your ability to achieve and do well, then you are likely to forget that your real worth is not in fact tied to things outside of yourself. Losing sight of that truth is likely to result in you being too hard on yourself and experiencing a potential downward spiral.
The solution is spending the time to build your view of yourself, as seen through your own eyes, devoid of any attachments to trappings like achievement and perceived successes.
So, how can you practice healthy detachment, develop your inner self, and still be an entrepreneur success?
1. You start by assessing your self-talk and having compassion for yourself.
Many of us are, sadly, conditioned to get down on ourselves at the slightest perception of failure. However, the truth is, most of us are doing the best we can with what we have and ups and downs are part and parcel of our total human experience. If, as an entrepreneur, you do not begin to grab hold of this truth, you are likely to suffer at a personal and professional level. Being able to objectively look at the realities of what is, and not resisting it will go a long way in helping you to embrace the process and remain grounded in spite of the ups and the downs.
2. Secondly, you cultivate habits of self-care
Irrespective of how ambitious you are, no business is worth more than taking care of yourself. It is important to take breaks when needed and to spend time in activities that help you replenish yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. For some people, that may mean taking the time to meditate or participate in some spiritual practices. Going for walks, sleeping on time (most of the time), eating foods that nourish the body, drinking enough water on a daily basis, taking the time to hang out with friends and participate in social activities you love, are all simply ways you can practice better self-care.
3. Set targets, but let go of the expectations
In business, we know that achieving targets is the name of the game. However, this same drive to set and achieve targets is sometimes the very thing that can sometimes become problematic when they are attached to expectations regarding exactly how these should play out. Instead of holding onto expectations, it is far more prudent to do what we must and let the unfolding of the results take care of themselves. None of us can predict the future and markets can be volatile. So while we work and move towards our targets, hang loosely on the expectations. After all, there are many ways hitting that target of 10,000 unit sales can play out. It may just be the product you least expected that becomes the runaway hit in the marketplace. So keep working, but keep your joy and remain temperate, grounded and, in some ways, without expectations.