Many entrepreneurs think they pay for their chaotic efforts at building a business with exhaustion and a mound of debt.
But those entrepreneurs can end up paying with something else: their mental strength. While they’re busy building healthy companies that can endure the ravages of a tough marketplace, entrepreneurs sometimes fail to build their own mental stamina to ensure they can take whatever comes at them.
Building a healthy company is a mentally draining process, however, and it’s important for business owners to maintain their mental strength so they can make it to the other side with their companies – and sound judgment – intact.
Psychotherapist Amy Morin wrote a book on the 13 things mentally strong people don’t do, noting that building mental strength takes work. Likewise, there are seven things entrepreneurs can do to build their mental stamina:
1. Create a community
Nobody likes sitting at the lunch table alone. Any experience is better when it’s shared with others. Lena Requist, president of ONTRAPORT, a company offering specialized business automation software to small businesses, wrote in a recent post that “building communities within your organization ensures that people are caring for and supporting one another, treating each individual like a person and not a number.” The more your environment feels like a welcoming community, the more capable you’ll be of surviving the stressors thrown at you.
2. Do your best to set attainable, yet challenging expectations
If you consistently make it clear what you expect from yourself and what you expect from your company and your employees, you’ll prevent some of the stressors that entrepreneurs think are inevitable: upset customers who feel they didn’t get what you said you’d deliver or projects that are endlessly extended because of competing priorities. It’s easy to get overly excited when you’re selling something – whether it’s a product or a vision of what your company could be – but take a step back and remember that if you don’t deliver, you can end up paying a mental toll.
3. Understand that you can’t make everybody around you happy
It’s not a secret I hide: I really do want everybody around me to be happy. Life is short, so I’m going to do my best to enhance the lives of the people who surround me. However, I’ve learned that even if you give grade-A effort, you can’t always make everybody happy – you have to prepare for that and be OK with it. Some people resemble human Eeyores or are incapable of loosening up and appreciating the good around them, and that’s their problem. Don’t make it yours.
4. Become OK with calculated risk
Risk is viewed as an overwhelming, thrill-seeking possibility that’s accompanied by stress. However, I don’t see risk as a terrible thing. It’s required to obtain a large reward. Therefore, it’s a great thing that simply needs to be calculated. Leverage technology and the available data you have in your organization and around you to calculate your risk – and your opportunity. Some risks may not pay off, but if you truly think through the risks you take and gather the most information possible, you increase your own chances of success. You have to accept the consequences; risk and the possibility of failure are part of running a business, and the sooner you accept that, the easier it will be to pinpoint the right risks.
5. Realize that failure is highly likely, but it’s what you do after that matters
I’ve always loved the adage, “It’s not how many times you fall, but how many times you rise, that count.” It’s inevitable that you’ll be knocked down while starting or running any business, but if you immediately get back up and focus on your recovery, the blows will affect your mind a lot less. Entrepreneurs frequently put pressure on themselves to avoid failure at all costs, but their mental energy would be better applied to creating contingency plans for the failures they’ll eventually encounter.
6. Encourage the success of those around you
Jealousy and FOMO (the fear of missing out) can kill your mind. There’s a common misconception that others’ success means that you aren’t successful, as if success were a zero-sum game without enough to go around. I’ll always remember my first boss; he said, “I’m not judging you on just how you do, but also on how you bring out the best in the people around you.” He told me his most valuable employees were the employees everybody else wanted on their team. People wanted to work with them because they knew they’d make them perform and push them to be successful. Others’ success is your success.
7. Dedicate yourself to earning things, not feeling entitled
I had a friend who always thought he deserved success due to the success of his family’s company. Therefore, when things didn’t go the way he wanted, we all witnessed a pouting fest worse than when I take the iPad away from my 4 year old. Approaching entrepreneurship with the mind-set that it takes work to earn the things worth having will help you avoid getting flustered when things don’t immediately fall into place.
Entrepreneurship is a draining endeavor that asks a lot of your time, energy and finances. Don’t let it have your mental stamina too. Instead, do these seven things to find yourself with not only a strong company, but also mental strength.