When I started my entrepreneurship journey, I had to face a wall of negative and unsupportive remarks from people around me:
“Why do you need to do that?”
“Who do you think you are?”
“Most companies fail.”
“It’s too risky.”
“Don’t you need a diploma for that?”
“You have no experience.”
“Life is not a Hollywood story.”
“Can’t you be like everyone else?”
“It’s arrogant to think that big.”
“Come on, stop dreaming and get back to reality.”
“Oh really, you plan on making a living out of that, seriously?”
In the Covid-era, it’s harder than ever to be positive, stay motivated, and build real connections with like-minded individuals. Here are my top tips, validated by more than a decade of entrepreneurship successes and failures:
1. A friend may disappoint you but a book never will
When I started to grow and have more ambitious goals – running a marathon, building my business, and learning English (I’m French) – many people didn’t understand me.
I found my first refuge in inspirational, motivational, and practical how-to books. Make sure to have at least one uplifting author you can listen to or read when you have down time. It may save you from giving up.
2. If you need advice on gardening, don’t ask your taxi driver
Many people looking for support and advice, especially millennials, will talk about their project with anyone who’ll listen. While everyone can give you their opinion, not everyone has the skills, experience, and wisdom in your field. Make sure to filter any unwanted or irrelevant opinions. Listen to those who accomplished what they said they would. Many people talk about their goals, few actually do the work necessary to achieve them, and even fewer actually get the results they want. Therefore, selecting the right person to ask is critical.
Before considering any advice given to you, ask yourself these questions: Is this person speaking from their own experience? Is this person a part of a successful group that’s achieved what I’m trying to? Do his values resonate with mine? If the answer is no, maybe you should ask someone else.
3. Everything is just a test
When I studied Napoleon’s winning attitude, I noticed how his perseverance led him to where no one in the history of France managed to go.
Your personal beliefs – irrespective of whether they’re right or wrong – are irrelevant. If you believe life is testing you to make sure you really deserve your success, you’ll work harder / smarter than if you think your project isn’t right for you.
Walk with faith in whatever you choose to do. You don’t need external approval or validation to have faith. When you believe in your project, you create the faith needed to keep going. Every obstacle becomes an opportunity to come closer to realizing your goal.
4.True friends will show up
In France we say “In need you recognize true friends” (C’est dans le besoin qu’on reconnaît les vrais amis). We’ve all had friends who made fun of our ambitions. Were they really our friends?
Make a list of the people around you who influence you regularly. Write down how you feel after you talk to each of them about your projects. If they’re not supportive, stop sharing your precious ambitions. Protect yourself from negative energies.
There is no point in cultivating a toxic pattern. If someone doesn’t understand your motivation, ambition, and goal, just share it with someone who does. With more than 7 billion people on the planet, don’t tell me you can’t find a few supportive ones. I won’t buy that.
5. Struggle together
Maybe Alexandre Dumas said it best: The pain we share is a more solid bond than love.
We all can relate to and feel sympathy for people who’ve had the same issues as us. When you start a new project, one of the easiest ways to not feel alone is to join a tribe: a group of people who have the same ambition and are figuring out a way to achieve it.
Motivation and willpower are limited. When you’re alone or tired, it’s easy to just postpone important tasks. But when you belong to a supportive community, they’ll check on you. You may let yourself down, but they won’t!
Have at least one growth partner who has the same goal as you do. It could be to start your first business, your first Youtube channel, your first book, or to learn a new language… no matter what your next big goal is, make sure not to go after it alone. If you don’t have such friends, read my next point.
6. Make a list of places where you can meet new and uplifting friends
Despite the negative narratives in most media, there are still many opportunities that even kings did not have access to a century ago. The Internet and new technologies are allowing us to connect with people who share almost any goal.
Online forums, conferences, workshops, associations, and charities, can be wonderful opportunities to virtually meet and make new friends with like-minded individuals. Covid is not an excuse.
7. Study social dynamics
How to Meet Friends and Influence People, Never Eat Alone, and The Relationship Cure are all classics I love and recommend. The fact is, social and emotional intelligence, and being able to make and nurture amazing friendships are skills that can be learned.
If you don’t like to read, that’s okay too. Feel free to study networking in your favorite format.
At the end of the day, it’s not important how you studied it, but if you acted on it. Social skills are like driving a car, they’re learnable and it’s up to you to learn and practice them.
8. Set boundaries
People will respect you to the level of self-respect you have. When someone is crossing a line,
it’s your responsibility to show him how to treat you.
Moreover, what may seem crazy and unrealistic to some, will be normal to others. While their intentions may not be to hurt or demotivate you, the fastest way to make it stop is to tell them. Dr. Brad Blanton offers great insights on this topic in his book, Radical Honesty.
When bad weeds are spreading in your garden, make sure to cut their roots. Otherwise, they’ll quickly ruin everything. Same goes for the relationships in your life.
Markus Spiske on Unsplash