I started my first business when I was 27, and like many, didn't have a clue what I was doing. But you figure it out. Entrepreneurship, a French word for 'undertaking' is really about taking on something that by its nature -- is challenging. It places a weight on you that requires self-awareness, self-efficacy, self-management and many more selves.
Yet, there are few things that are as rewarding when you're inventing it up as you go -- and the world responds with wanting what you're building. These are three things that I know took me too long to appreciate and adopt:
1. Get A Mentor (or Coach) or Whatever You Want to Call Them
It took me way too long to get a business coach. I remember one session, a sunny spring afternoon, we were sitting on a bench in Queens Park in West London. She told me, definitively, that I was a creative entrepreneur. Then she looked on at me in silence. Her expression made it clear that she expected me to recite that out loud. I hesitated, and when I muttered, "I'm a creative entrepreneur," it sounded foreign-- it felt wrong.
It was many years later when it hit me. A creative entrepreneur, in contrast to the myriad of other types of entrepreneurs, earns a living by making, packaging, and selling their creativity. That's exactly what I am, I just failed to own it for so long.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of the New America Foundation, declares that Olympic athletes don't have a coach for a few years when they are young. They have them for decades as they go from young bright stars through to Gold Medalists and beyond. Entrepreneurs are no different. A coach means you have a sounding board, can maintain objectivity, and most of all -- get support. So if you don't have someone who plays this role for you today, stop reading and go find them.
2. Surround Yourself with Truth Speakers
In one of the finest video clips of Steve Jobs, he speaks of tremendous teamwork and the inherent 'wonderful arguments.' Surrounding himself with bright people that were willing to not only speak their minds but fight for their ideas -- was key to Apple's early success.
For too long I surrounded myself with people like me. From an early stage in childhood, it's extremely common (and easy) to seek out, and spend time with, those similar to you. But when it comes to business and teamwork, we need cognitive diversity. We need creative abrasion to first have those innovative ideas, and then let the best ones win.
This is easy, but oh so hard. Sitting still for 2,10, or 20 minutes is challenging for most. And staying idle with your mind at ease is even harder -- especially if you're the hyperactive type like me.
But meditation works wonders. It's not hearsay. Mediation leads to increased awareness, creativity, productivity, patience, empathy, focus, resilience and so much more.
Once I was writing on my laptop while on a busy commuter train. On the shared makeshift table, a traveler rested her coffee. When a new passenger got on and bumped our table, the coffee flew at me-- and in a split second, I slid both myself and computer out of harm's way. With onlookers in awe at my ninja-like moves, I smiled to myself, 'Thank god for meditation."
If you're thinking that you simply can't carve the time out to meditate -- that's a poor excuse. The resting state you're in during a meditative state is far more restorative than that of sleep. You will actually need less sleep and be more productive in your work. In other words, by meditating you will gain more time in your life to be a sharper entrepreneur.