Anyone doing anything awesome is going to receive negative feedback....and if you're like most pioneers, it will be broadcast all over social media with the world tuning in! Joy.
If your startup has disrupted a particular industry, you know exactly what I'm talking about and yeah, it's easy to get caught up in the negativity. But you can't. Being an entrepreneur is so much like being a racecar driver: you can't pay attention to the crowd, your competitor, or the fact that your mother is watching-you have to focus on the finish line.
Well, I guess I felt that analogy so keenly that I sat down with drag racing superstar Alexis DeJoria earlier this month to explore the parallels between racing and entrepreneurism. You can find the full interview here on The Unicorn in the Room.
As DeJoria spoke about what she deals with on a daily basis-I couldn't help but think that we're all trying to make it to the "finish line"-whether we run a startup, are creating a new technology, or are trying to better ourselves at a certain skill. And once we cross one finish line-there's always going to be the next race. So we continuously start the process over and over again. Alexis believes that in order to keep winning (at whatever you choose to do), you have to keep your head in the game.
In addition to being in a staunchly competitive sport, DeJoria made a name for herself in a male-dominated "world." She had no inside network in the industry-and being that her dad is iconic entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria, people had preconceived ideas about Alexis before she ever did anything.
Like many first time entrepreneurs, she had to endure her fair share of haters.
She responded to this by getting her head down and working even harder. She used those negative comments as fuel to propel her forward and went on to build a successful career for herself as a professional NHRA Drag Racer. She worked her way up to the pro ranks, and now as the pilot of the 330-mph Tequila Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car, has raced her way to four event wins, including the prestigious 60th annual U.S. Nationals, aka the Superbowl of Drag Racing.
"When I suit up and I get in the racecar, I have to shut the entire world out," she says. "I can't be thinking about what happened yesterday or an hour ago-or even 20 minutes ago. I have to be very much in the moment to succeed in this sport."
Alexis' number one piece of advice to those courageous enough to follow their dreams? Don't give up. "There's going to be good days and bad days, but if you're truly passionate about what you're doing-you'll get through it. Just don't let the little things get you down. Stay focused and charge ahead."
If you're feeling a little defeated today, tap into your inner race car driver and see what it does for your mindset. See you at the finish line!