Successful entrepreneurs have healthy egos. A person cannot withstand the inevitable ups and downs of building a business, hiring and firing employees, changing business plans on the fly, and develop a thick skin, without having a durable and resilient sense of self.
The good news is that there are exercises you can do to prepare yourself for taking the plunge and confronting the choppy waters of the entrepreneurial sea. The first thing that I recommend to my clients when they are taking on a new project is to evaluate their own skills, life, and work history. Most people don’t have a clear view of their own life and skillset. It’s understandable, we’re too busy living our lives to stop and take a step back and see the big picture.
When my students come to me for coaching or mentoring work the first thing I have them do is create an inventory list of their positive traits – I want 10 things they like about themselves that are actually in their control. Often people start off with I’m smart, good looking and hardworking.
Those are so-so start, which is why I dig in. I want to know HOW are they smart? What are they doing to improve the skills they need to succeed in this new career? What are they reading that helps them learn more about their industry? Good looking is nice – it opens doors, but it won’t make the sale without more. Hard working is important, but again it needs to be directed and focused. Lots of busy work doesn’t make a successful business.
The goal of all this is to have the budding entrepreneur develop an inventory of positive traits about themselves that they can call on when the going gets rough for their new business. In every new business there’s that day when it all goes wrong and the self-doubts come crashing in. That’s the day you need to have a fallback plan for your ego, so you can pick yourself up, and continue to lead your employees.
A healthy ego allows us to deal with a crisis situation by responding to it appropriately, not reacting to it emotionally. When I’m working with people they often have trouble identifying ten positive character traits about themselves. When we start exploring their life and their accomplishments, we discover the good things, and because we’ve discovered them together, those traits are more permanent in the mind.
By becoming more aware of their strengths, people are more capable of reaching their goals. For example, once a person knows that they are outgoing and gregarious, it’s easier to live up to that description and be the face of your company.
Taking ownership of one’s own character traits also allows us to decide what we want to grow into. When I describe myself as charming, attentive and reliable, I have found that I can embody that more easily. I can pour on the charm, and show up because I have told myself that is what I do, and who I am.
The skills of success are actually very easy to acquire. Being Responsible, Honest, Attentive, Punctual, Conscientious, Caring and Focused are all habits that can be adopted and grown. They are available to anyone who wants them.
To become a successful entrepreneur requires dedication, hard work and overcoming obstacles. By starting with a solid foundation of self-knowledge, and a roadmap of character traits to develop, most people can weather the storms and find the success they want, in their chosen business.
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