Entrepreneur becomes a cool title when people started celebrating and worshiping unicorn companies. HBO even made a drama to let us have a peek into how startups pursue the quest of ‘changing the world’ in Silicon Valley.
Meanwhile, there are also numerous articles circulated in the web telling us about sweat and tears behind the pride in telling people that ‘I run my own business’; for example this, and this.
While it is sweet to be able to pursue your passion, the latter is a more realistic depiction of entrepreneurship. It hurt when people change, it was overwhelming looking at never ending to-do list, it was disappointing when deals didn’t come through; the list go on and on.
Well, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The byproduct of these experiences is that I picked up things that make me a little more tougher every time I feel defeated.
1. Surround yourself with family & friends
Hitting your low points made you realize how much it matters that they love and support you unconditionally, and how you have always taken them for granted.
When I went through ‘business divorce’ with my partners, it was painful facing people who used to be like family but all we could talk about is money and valuation.
I may not have seen eye to eye with mum in a lot of things, but a conversation with mum during this though period lifted my confusion when she told me that it is okay to open your heart in business.
Being vulnerable also made me realize that I have friends who would make time for me just because I need a hug. Only true friends tell you truth no matter how brutal it is. They will crush you before your competitors do, but they will compensate with their ears, shoulders and lots and lots of hugs.
2. Running or exercising
Having a runner dad, I used to hate running because dad made it a routine since we were kids.
When responsibilities and stress kicked in, running becomes an essential part of coping mechanism.
It gives me space to not think about anything, or to figure things out when I needed to.
There are a lot of studies that show the intangible benefits of running despite making you physically fit, such as how it is easier to connect the dots, how it makes you think more creatively, the release of happiness hormone and so on.
It was awesome that sometimes I came back from a run having figured out things that I dread and keep procrastinating.
Many great figures meditate, like Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Ferriss just to name a few.
I finally discovered the power of meditation when I was drowning in noises. When you focus fully in your breath, it was extremely amazing that the noises quiet down, and you feel present and in charge.
I then went on to explore spirituality preached by different thinkers, such as Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The
I had my ‘aha’ moment when I learn that our whole life is determined by ’now’ and we have total control to design our future.
Meditation keeps me rooted in the present gives me clarity to achieve things that I envision for. I always wish that more people could discover how meditation is like an under-utilised muscle that could help us achieve greater things in life.
4. Practice gratitude
A friend said that gratitude is like a magnet that will attract good things in life.
It could be a superstitious belief, but I couldn’t deny the wonderful effect I felt when I started practicing gratitude.
Just give yourself 10 minutes every day to think of 5 to 10 things that make you grateful during the day, or the day before. It doesn’t have to something special; having a warm cup of coffee in the morning is something that I am really grateful for everyday.
Practicing gratitude enables us to focus on abundance instead of scarcity in life. Why do people keep chasing stuff? How long does happiness last when you got yourself something you crave for? Are they even essential?
If we can identify experiences that make us happy, we can create more of that. Those little moments of happiness will accumulate to make us a more positive person and that is very important – because happiness brings success.
5. Having growth mindset
5 months into business my mind has been programmed into believing that there is nothing unsolvable - all it takes are the belief that you can do it and just take action.
During bad times, you could victimize yourself and complain, or you could see it as challenge that helps you grow into a better person.
There was once our transporter bailed on us a few hours before setting up for a high profile client. We had our panic moment but we got over it quickly and source for a new one with all connections we have. We found a much better and trustworthy transporter since that day.
I’m a believer in ‘fail fast, learn fast, and move fast’. Instead of exploring options and never reach a decision, sometimes you progress faster when you just try things out and filter options that don’t work.
Whatever you are up to in life, embrace challenges as your 'frenemy'.
Let’s face it.
Challenge is hard. It stinks. It breaks you mentally. Its ugly.
But you want to win. You respond. You look for solutions. You learn. You overcome it. You thrive.