1) Learn self-mastery (how to navigate and work with your mind), so that you can get out of your own way and not sabotage your own success.
Most of us didn’t get a user’s manual on being human upon arrival in the world. Our brains are incredible tools, but they actually weren’t built for 21st century living, and rather for a cave-person living with saber-tooth tigers running around. It’s the equivalent of trying to run a 2020 operating system (OS) on a 1984 macintosh computer. It may work, but it requires lots of hacks and workarounds and it’s still clunky.
I like to call this instinctual cave-person brain, “the Saboteur”, because for our purposes, all it is doing is keeping your stuck, scared and unhappy. You see, our brains and our bodies don’t know the difference between a legit threat of a saber-tooth tiger, and the perceived threats of today like being embarrassed if our idea doesn’t work.
Our brains code everything that has an uncertain outcome, AKA anything and everything that is new, especially entrepreneurship which is by very definition uncertain, as a threat on our life.
It’s trying to keep you safe and alive, but it is our job to recognize when we are on this channel and actively choose not to be led by the caveman brain that will keep us in the cave forever.
This is harder than it sounds, and takes practice and learning!
2) Develop your intuition, or your inner GPS, and build trust in this inner knowing.
The other channel that we do want to be leading us is our “inner GPS”, or our intuition. This is different from our thinking mind, and it is this channel is where creativity and innovation hang out. Our job is to a) discern which channel we are on, the Saboteur or the Inner GPS (which usually takes some tools and skills and education) and then b) the willingness to trust this inner GPS, which we’ve typically been taught to override.
3) Creativity is a muscle; cultivate conditions for creativity.
Entrepreneurship is by definition, a creative process. It means creating something from scratch, in the same way a writer creates a book from a blank page, or a painter makes a painting from a blank canvas. Building a business is a creative endeavor.
AND, creativity is not a “logical, linear” endeavor and it requires a connection beyond your thinking brain to do it well! (The thinking brain play a role too, but it’s role in the execution part, comes later!)
The most creative and entrepreneurial people I know “practice” creativity and actively work to enhance their creativity, as they would work out at the gym.
Figure out how and when you are the most creative and inspired, and actively work to create (and protect!) those conditions.
If you can do this, you’ll have a huge head start on entrepreneurial success!
4) Be process-oriented, not outcome-oriented. Learn to take an action and let go of results.
This is the equivalent of the Scientific Method for entrepreneurship. Or “launch and iterate” is another tech-y way of saying this.
People who have the most success are those that are process-oriented, not outcome-oriented. I know this is shocking because we are taught that we must have a very specific 10-year-plan, but in truth, that is the enemy of invention!
Your job as an entrepreneur, or as the creator of your career, is not to determine the outcome. In fact, it is impossible! The world is not static, and neither are you, and in fact, both are changing faster than ever. (This is a called a “growth mindset” and we like growth!)
Your job is instead to take the single next right action.
For example, my job at the outset was not to decide if I would have a full-fledged coaching practice and coaching career. It was to coach 1 single client. It was to go to the next coaching workshop in a series. And then let go of the results.
5) Take the path of most ease. When something is aligned, it will feel “light and right”, not hard and heavy.
Marie Kondo is on to something! Your work, and your business decisions, should “spark joy”!
I love how Anne Truitt explains this, “The hallmark of a decision in line with one’s character is ease and contentment, and an ample, even provision of natural energy.”
6) Build the thing that you cannot NOT build.
This is true whether that is the career you build or the business you build.
If you’re not sure, keep taking one small action at a time until you are.
7) The question to ask is not: “what if I fail?” It needs to be, “what if I don’t try?”
Imagine how you will feel, 10 years from now, if you don’t try to at least explore this thing. Will you still be wondering about it and what might have happened?
How will you feel if someone else builds this thing, or writes the book, or accepts the job first?
Will you be disappointed?
On the other hand, if you “fail”, you will know way more about what works and what doesn’t out in the world (vs. in your head), and what you enjoy and are uniquely well-suited to do, than you did before. And that is so incredibly valuable for whatever comes next. How could that experience ever be considered a failure?
8) If something is meant to be, you can’t screw it up. If it is not, there’s nothing you can do to make it work.
Your life gets so much easier once you realize and accept this.
If this doesn’t ring true, please refer back to #2! 😉
9) Nothing is permanent. You can always “refund your misery”.
Just make a start. If you’re scared of letting go of something you have to start something unknown, or afraid of closing a door, keep in mind you can always “refund your misery” and go back to whatever you were doing before. Banking, or finance, or Big Tech, or marketing, waitressing, insta-influencing, farming, being a sanitation worker, uber-driving, academia, photography…you name it. It will all still be there if you change your mind!
10) It is not selfish to follow your curiosity, do what you love doing and be fulfilled by your work.
In fact, it is the most generous thing you can do for others!
What is actually selfish is to withhold your capabilities, your talents and your potential from the world.
Think about my client AOC. She was concerned, too, like most of us are at first, that she was being entitled and selfish to invest time and money into figuring out what she wanted to do with her life, instead of saving and in her case, supporting her family.
…and look how that story evolved!! Her investment in her own personal development work led her to where she can be of the highest, most impactful service to her community and the world possible, while simultaneously, being aligned, fulfilled, and loving her work.
I don’t think anyone would call her path, “selfish”.
And, she is not an exception to this “selfishness is not in fulfilling work” rule!
11) Bonus…There is an opportunity cost to doing work you hate, or building a business you don’t want to build.: your fulfillment, your integrity and your joy.
Curious HOW to actually implement and apply these tips to your work and/or your business? We go into each of these detail and provide tools, exercises, and even more tips (tips on tips!!) in my online course, “WTF Am I Doing with My Life?”
For more info like this on a weekly-ish basis, you can sign up for the “WTF Weekly-ish” here.