The entrepreneur's Ferrari brain ... with bicycle brakes.
The difference between success and frustration lives in the mind, but it is not IQ or innate talent. It is the ability to make the most of what you've got. The great business owner learns how to harness and direct his or her mental power, while the frustrated one spends life trying to learn how.
Entrepreneurs constitute the guts and gusto of our economy. They're the people who keep us bouncing back no matter how bad things get and the people who break new ground no matter how many times they're told they can't go there. They are the business equivalent of farmers--not sitting in boardrooms or looking for bailouts but always out at the crack of dawn plowing the economy, dealing with whatever the weather brings, growing their crops no matter what.
The Psychological Profile of an Entrepreneur
If there is one psychological characteristic that defines entrepreneurs, it is what I call pop: grit combined with imagination and optimism. People who start their own businesses have a ton of pop. They never give up; they keep inventing new solutions, and they believe in the pot of gold.
But a rich, complex and often contradictory set of tendencies combine to define these ragtag rebels and swashbuckling pioneers. I say contradictory because for every positive trait the entrepreneur possesses, he or she usually has a corresponding vulnerability. Paradoxes prevail in their psychological makeup.
In order for entrepreneurs to thrive and achieve their magnificent dreams, they need to learn to overrule their destructive tendencies while taking advantage of their considerable constructive gifts. But learning how to do this requires insight--knowledge of one's assets and vulnerabilities--and planning, developing a method to take advantage of strengths and overrule weaknesses.
A big problem is that most entrepreneurs hate to introspect, and they hate even more to plan. They prefer to operate spontaneously according to the Nike solution: just do it. The Nike solution can work spectacularly well sometimes and has led to the making of many sudden fortunes. But over time it tends to fail and has led to the demise of many such sudden successes.
To help entrepreneurs gain control over their powerful minds, I offer the following compilation of what I've learned are the central traits and tendencies of the small-business owner. I couple each asset with a corresponding vulnerability, as it seems these qualities come in Jekyll-and-Hyde pairs. As you read down the list, put a star next to the assets or vulnerabilities that particularly characterize you.
How to Master Your Mind
As an entrepreneur, you are very lucky. You are blessed with an extraordinarily powerful mind. You have the equivalent of a Ferrari engine for a brain. That's why you are a winner in the making, a potential champion. But you must address one major problem that almost every entrepreneur has: You have bicycle brakes. You have difficulty controlling the power of your brain. Sometimes it runs away with you, so you may crash into walls or fail to slow down or stop when you should. This can cost you the race.
If you look down the list of qualities you starred in the inventory, you will see that the assets relate to areas where you regularly exhibit power over yourself and your circumstances. But all the vulnerabilities relate to your inability to control, discipline or inhibit certain tendencies.
For example, the visionary will continue to come up with new ideas, but the ideas will not become useful unless the entrepreneur learns the discipline of taking current reality into account--or listening to and believing others who can. The tenacious deal-maker will stubbornly walk away from a perfectly acceptable compromise out of an inability to stop chasing a win. The jokester will warm up the business meeting with humor and land the sale unless his uninhibited side mortifies the client with an offensive joke. The serial entrepreneur will pounce on the lucrative opportunity and skillfully avoid the sucker's bet unless her headstrong side goes all in on every hand.
When entrepreneurs learn systems that help them slow down, pause, ask for help, take advice, make a plan, get organized. submit to a certain discipline or think a project through, then their creativity, intuition, enthusiasm and turbocharged brain will generate victory upon victory.
But when they do not, I have seen time and again, they crash. Brilliant ideas sit hidden as scrap in the junk heap of failed projects. A year of hundred-hour workweeks gets destroyed in one hotheaded, impetuous conversation. A sudden insight that solves an industry-wide problem gets scooped up by a competitor due to enthusiastic loose lips, lack of boundaries or inadequate legal counsel. A killer business plan gets dismissed because the entrepreneur failed to show up at the right place at the right time.
Here are some action steps that can help you run your best race:
1. Read the list of assets and vulnerabilities and star those that apply to you
2. Meet with a partner, friend, colleague or hired consultant, and brainstorm ways to add structures to your life to increase the power of your brakes. Lists, schedules, detailed plans, priorities--these matter! Don't blow this task off as being too pedestrian or boring. Your success depends on it.
3. If this proves insufficient, consider working with a consultant over a protracted period of time. The skills that you need can be learned, but many of them go against your grain, which is why it is difficult to coach yourself successfully.
4. Try to make sure you are spending the majority of your time at the intersection of three spheres: what you love to do, what you have a special skill at doing and what advances the project, or what someone will pay you to do. Delegate the rest if you possibly can.
As you follow these steps, you will gain a greater feeling of control. Structure creates an atmosphere not of frustration but of positive emotion. This, coupled with the entrepreneur's innate drive, leads to focus the magic wand of peak performance.
Asset Corresponding Vulnerability Visionary, dreamer, pioneer, Has trouble perceiving or big-picture thinker acknowledging reality; overlooks important parts of project or idea, Haled by enthusiasm for big picture Has an "itch," a constant Has an itch that can also lead desire for more that drives to an array of self-destructive ongoing achievement and activities and habits creative undertakings Independent; self-reliant Has difficult' working on teams, within hierarchy; has trouble delegating, listening to others, trusting others to do job as well as he/she would Doesn't care what others think Poor at self-observation Tenacious, competitive Stubborn; tries some failed method over and over; sticks with bad project too long Original, thinks outside box Has trouble thinking inside the box, following standard procedures Innovator who loves risk; Takes foolish chances; gets lots cowboy of bruises and broken bones Sensitive but covers it over) Easily hurt (but covers it over) Forgiving, trusting and Lets bad people back in; not generous discerning enough; gives away the store Loves startup phase and dosing Has trouble with follow-through and middle phase Can quickly cut to the chose; Impatient, brings premature decisive closure; shoots from the hip Full of ideas; sees solution, has Doesn't get around to excellent plan implementing solution or acting on plan; has trouble sticking with idea long enough to develop it Resilient, gritty, can't be defeated Sometimes doesn't quit or slow --only slowed down down when necessary Loves role of underdog, thrives when Sometimes takes on impossible odds seem insurmountable tasks or projects Hugely enthusiastic about life and Headstrong; loses perspective, life's possibilities; passionate balance easily; has trouble prioritizing, I learning from mistakes Loyal, will be there for you when Hurts self or project through no one else is, no matter what blind loyalty Loves to multitask Cureless with details Can hyper-focus when highly Doesn't pay attention when not interested or in danger/crisis interested in topic or when situation is too calm "Gets it" fast, a quick study; Hates prep work, reading amazing ability on the run, directions can learn how to fly in midair Delves deeply into task and becomes Poor or absent sense of time and oblivious to all else external environment Honest hates hypocrisy Tactless, not politically correct Values excellence, talent Hates entitlements, politics Intuits or "sees" solutions, Can't explain methodology or possibilities, novel approaches teach others how he/she does it Has a life marked by flashes Inconsistent; can't be brilliant of brilliance on demand or on schedule Doesn't wait for permission; Gets into trouble by not going takes action while others through proper channels fiddle and diddle Loves the chase, thrives in Antsy or bored amidst stability or crisis/danger after victory, even depressed; has trouble savoring the moment Has a great sense of humor Can be inappropriate "Yes" is default position "No" is foreign word Charismatic Relies on charisma rather than well-thought-out strategy Unbelievably hard-working; Takes on too much; fails to reach able to juggle many goals due to overload projects/ideas at once Embraces challenge, danger, Finds stability and security uncertainty; can avert tedious; tends to sabotage disaster at the last minute or blow them up; procrastinates or sets things up so disaster looms likely Drives toward goal with Can become explosively angry when herculean determination frustrated, sidetracked or interrupted
RELATED ARTICLE: PUT THE BRAKES ON
Hallowell's Tips for Overcoming the Top Five Entrepreneurial Speed Bumps
Problem: You have lots of great ideas but trouble sticking with one long enough to develop it fully.
Solution: Work with a partner or hire an assistant who has "attention surplus trait," the natural tendency to sweat the details and see a project through its tedious middle phase into its final stages--when you will naturally become more interested again.
Problem: You're great in crises or other high-pressure settings but antsy and bored with stability.
Solution: Learn to recognize that antsy feeling as a potential prelude to disaster. Develop safe antidotes for that feeling, like physical exercise, creative brainstorming with a trusted colleague, deep meditation or exciting activities that do not put you at serious risk, like rock climbing, watching an action movie or wind surfing.
Problem: You rely on instinct and charisma rather than well-reasoned strategy.
Solution: Stop, think, plan, then think and plan again. Then consult with a trusted ally, and think and plan again. Preparation makes the difference between winning and losing, no matter how much natural charisma you might have. Remember, hope and charm do not a strategy make.
Problem: You are unbelievably hard-working but often take on too much, failing to reach goals due to overload.
Solution: When you feel overloaded, use the rule of CDE: Curtail, Delegate, Eliminate. It works wonders. And to deal with procrastination, which also creates overload, use the rule of DIN: Do It Now. Put the phrase do it now into your brain, and soon it will become an automatic reflex. Also works wonders.
Problem: You're able to anticipate danger well but tend toward toxic worrying, getting caught up in the infinite web of what if
Solution: Never worry alone. Worry can be constructive when done with someone else. Done alone, it is often paralyzing.
Dr. Edward Hallowell, psychiatrist and former professor at Harvard Medical School, shares his brain diagnostic to help entrepreneurs lap the competition.
Dr. Edward Hallowell is a psychiatrist and author of 18 books, including CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap and Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Date:||May 1, 2012|
|Previous Article:||Opportunity knocks: or, in Howie Mandel's case, it's always there ... just outside the door. The comedian, TV host and producer talks about following...|
|Next Article:||Modern science and motherhood: Dr. Benjamin Spock changed the way American parents raise their children.|