Being an entrepreneur and a small business owner can slingshot you onto a roller coaster of emotions, but the best of the best are the conductors, so they are able to take control. When you’re able to control your emotions you are able to direct energy in a productive and positive direction. There’s definitely a stigma around entrepreneurship and being “emotionally invested in the hustle", meaning: people think that if they are not 100% invested or sacrificing every aspect of their life, they will lose. Do I agree? Hell no! But do I disagree? Hell no! You need to hustle, but you need to work smart (not hard or long) and you need to ensure you work with grit (not emotions). Grit is that blend of passion and persistence, the magical juice that leads to momentum, commitment and wins. It’s what gets you up in the morning and keeps you going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm so you can learn and grow. Grit is what professionals deliver day in and day out in order to engage in the invisible & critical work that no one sees, the work that grows your business into what you envisioned. Emotions, on the other hand, inspire radical decisions and can potentially drag you down into an unpromising rabbit hole. But ultimately, being emotional in business (and in life) stops you from auditing your progress by not answering two critical questions: Should I try harder? Or should I walk away?
While trying to make it to the NHL, I was 100% emotionally invested and put up blinders to reality. I failed to audit my life and skills, which caused me to waste a few years of my life, but I eventually got around to it and satisfied myself by asking those critical questions at the age of 22. At this point, I did everything in my power to give myself the best shot at making it, and when I was satisfied with my efforts, I knew the decision I had to make. You never want to be in the same position as you were last year or be wasting your most valuable resource, TIME! My personal fear is unfulfilled potential and watching time pass. Moving over to business, it’s the same thing. I’ve been building businesses for over 10 years and I am uncovering the power of these questions. Understanding the power of being fully aware of where you are as a business and where you need to go by constantly questioning market limits, resources and skills required to build a vision into something real and at scale, something that makes friends and family proud. I think, especially as a startup, you need to be aware of this and ensure you working on an opportunity that is truly valuable to the world, because if you’re not - what’s the point? Granted, massive businesses like Uber, Airbnb, Apple, Google all began with a simple idea. They never knew how big they could really become. For example, Uber’s original pitch deck said their total market would be $2 billion. Today, it’s $70 billion, 35x their original expectation! But there were milestones and audits along the way that made them say, “let’s continue to try harder”. I’m not trying to be a dream killer, but not asking these questions can be what is stopping you from building a more viable and valuable dream. The question is, when do you walk away? I think Jeff Bezos answers this simply – When the last high judgment champion folds his/her cards; or Steve Jobs theory - if your business isn’t 10x bigger in 24 months, walk away.
With that said, this is why a marriage between logic, heart and business is so crucial. During a Q&A at Dreamforce, Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber mentioned – “Doing the right thing is when logic and heart meet. When your heart is there and there is no logic, now you’re in the gambling territory.” I digested this and defined gambling territory as “wasting time & money due to emotional decisions & thoughts.” I personally believe startups and entrepreneurs have such a high failure rate because of this – most are gambling. Yes, risk is the essence of entrepreneurship, but you can mitigate risk by constantly auditing your motive (why), where you are, where you plan to go and asking these simple questions - Should I try harder? Or should I walk away? Many founders are emotionally invested, not questioning if they should walk away from a dog (low market growth rate + low market share), therefore leading them to gambling territory and wasting time, money and avoiding critical learning curves to creating something even better. I believe the best of the best connect logic, heart and business to make the right decisions and move in the right direction at the right time with speed. They understand that emotions must be left out, but grit must thrive. They understand that it’s just business and if it fails you learn, improve and grow. This journey in my opinion is more valuable than doing nothing at all.
I’ll end it with this… I came across a post in the social sphere, not sure if Mr. Buffet actually said this, but it still inspired me:
“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.”
This could mean a thousand things to a thousand people, but for me, it was clear. This statement spoke to me and said three things:
1) Prioritize your mental well being.
2) Create a business where logic and heart meet.
3) Constantly audit your progress in order to pivot in business and life, because grit, agility and speed wins in a business environment filled with so many uncertainties.
Wishing you all the best on your journey!