In my opinion, the best metaphor to capture the unique and frequent struggles of an entrepreneur is a boxer. Despite a constant onslaught of pain, a boxer's resilience is something the Average Joe can never truly comprehend. Similarly, an entrepreneur's resilience to common challenges cannot be fully understood by non-entrepreneurs because they are so frequent and severe. Like a boxer, how can entrepreneurs remain positive and succeed in spite of regular struggles? Here are five suggestions.
1. Reframe setbacks as catalysts for growth. We often allow challenges to discourage us because they cause short-term pain. In reality, challenges are often where we grow the most. As Tony Robbins says, "Life isn't happening to you, it's happening for you." When tough times come your way, remember you will come out the other side stronger. So start celebrating that even when difficulties hit hard.
2. Surround yourself with your peers. For most entrepreneurs, many people in your life won't be able to relate to the entrepreneurial roller coaster you're on. Make sure you're having honest and transparent conversations with other entrepreneurs about the challenges you're facing. Be vulnerable. They will be able to truly empathize with your struggle. Even if they can't help to solve your problem, just knowing they can relate is vastly beneficial.
3. Be grateful for what is working. Challenges can often consume an unhealthy amount of our attention, often overshadowing all of the wonderful things that are going well. Make sure to take a proper inventory of the good and the bad. When times are tough, it's more important than ever to give thanks for the positive aspects of your business and personal life.
4. Add stress-reducing activities to your to do list. I always remind myself, "a business is a reflection of its leaders' states of being." If your energy is low, your business will also have low energy and morale. If you're negative, your team will inevitably follow your lead. Know that mood-boosting activities that put you in a positive state of being and mindset are equally as important as your department meetings and projects. Schedule exercise, church, time with family and other uplifting activities for yourself, even if they cut into your work day.
5. Schedule regular reality checks. Despite the intensity of an entrepreneurial career, it's important to put these overwhelming struggles into context and perspective. If you have good health, loving relationships, and the freedoms to succeed and thrive doing what you love, your day-to-day entrepreneurial challenges likely pale in comparison to what many other people face. While the entrepreneurial journey may be fraught with more stress than other careers, remember that there are millions of people who would trade their sufferings for yours. Be mindful of this, both to put your struggles into context and to help you consider how your entrepreneurial efforts might someday alleviate the extreme circumstance that others endure around the world.