Millennials: 10 Things Old Farts Won’t Tell You About Entrepreneurship (Third in a series) | Peter Mehit


download (2)3.You can’t succeed without the ‘f’ word

I know what you’re thinking.  Either a.) he can’t possibility mean that ‘f’ word or b.) the ‘f’ word is focus.  Focus would be a good ‘f’ word.  Nothing truly gets done without it.  People who think they are multitaskers are really deluding themselves.  Not even computers multitask.  Designers just add more cores, but each one of them is only processing one instruction at a time, really, really fast.

We teach people how to visualize businesses and focus is an important part of it.  I can tell you I get my best results when I can eliminate distractions.  But that’s not the ‘f’ word we’re talking about.

Seeing where you want to go is important.  Having your destination clearly in front of you, knowing the steps you have to take is the surest way to success.  But in the journey of the entrepreneur, sometimes a clear vision isn’t always possible.  Sometimes market testing is ambiguous.  Sometimes your design doesn’t translate from prototype to production.  Your funding falls apart.  You lose a founder.  These are things that focus alone will not get you through.  This is where the other ‘f’ word is indispensable.

In those times of doubt, you need what has been called ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’.  Faith.  That’s from Hebrews 11:1, but before you think I’m going to go all religious on you, faith is something that everyone practices.  You could argue that it takes more faith to be an atheist since you’re actually believing in nothing.  Faith in the sense that I mean it here is believing in your idea, and yourself, enough to persevere through the tough times.

As a founder, your vision is what your team coalesces around.  It’s what your investors are buying into.  It eventually becomes what your customers purchase.  And while the shape and color of your vision may change, your belief in it can’t waiver.  This is not to say you can’t have doubts.  Every entrepreneur and visionary has had their faith tested.  Some may even briefly have a break in faith, but they find their way a back.  Here are some tips to keep the faith in your endeavor strong:

  • Visualize where you want to end up.   See the destination in your mind.  Do this repeatedly, especially when things happen that cloud your vision.  Spend time thinking about your ultimate goal separate from the tactics you need to reach it.  Keep this in your mind constantly so you aren’t crushed under details and lose passion for your project.
  • Put the most positive construction on everything that happens to you, even if you think you may be slightly delusional for doing so.  If you get into negative territory, it’s easy to camp there.
  • Surround yourself with people who get things done, offer alternatives when shooting holes in your ideas and have positive personalities.
  • When you feel overwhelmed, disappointed or frustrated, allow yourself to experience the emotion while trying to take the lesson from it.  Running from emotions only stacks them up, unless you’re a stoic badass, and in that case, you’re laughing at what I just wrote.

Your faith, your commitment to your vision is everything.  People follow people who know where they’re going.  People invest in people who know what they’re doing.  You don’t have to know everything and you will make mistakes.  What’s important is that you believe you will be able to answer the challenges as they occur.  That you have faith in yourself.  If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else can.

I had the privilege of recently spending an afternoon with a meditation coach who was instrumental in helping me work out some life problems.  He’s 83 now and hasn’t held a job since he was in his twenties.  He’s an accomplished musician, technical writer, non-fiction author and novelist.  At the stage where most people are hanging it up, he’s getting the largest advances he’s ever gotten and has four books in work.

I confided to him that I still get anxious when the sales pipeline is low, when checks are late, when clients take a long time to make a decision.  I asked him how he dealt with that when it happens to him.

“I don’t know how to answer that,” he said after thinking for a moment, “I know something will show up and it always does.  It may not be what I was looking or planning for, but I get what I need.”   He asked me to think about the tough times in my business. “You never stopped hustling, did you?”

“I didn’t have a choice,” I answered.

“Of course you did,” he countered, “You could have quit.  You could have said it was too hard.  You could have folded.”

Then he smiled at me.  It was that same smile he would always give me when I’d bring my broken life to his office seeking help and comfort.

“You had faith.”

Napoleon Hill said “What the mind can conceive, and believe, it can achieve.” Faith is both the foundation on which all of your labors will rest and the engine that propels dreams into reality.

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