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6 Steps To True Entrepreneur Success

6 Steps To True Entrepreneur Success

I’ve been self-employed my whole working life. It suits me. I’m not afraid of hard work and I quite like money. But my career has been a game of two halves. The first half was played at a furious pace, as befits a young man with big ideas. It was fun, I made a lot of money, but it didn’t end well.

The second half has been more measured, it’s still fun and…so far, so good. The big difference is that I’m personally in a much better place now. I’m happier, more at peace with myself and more fulfilled. And much, much less stressed.

So what’s changed? Well, change was forced on me. I took a hammering on a deal and I lost everything. Home, business, confidence – the lot. And I realized that what had gone wrong wasn’t an arbitrary decision here or a bad break there, it was much more fundamental.

However you choose to define “success” the essential foundation is mindset. Mine wasn’t just wrong, I hadn’t taken the time or the trouble to get it right in the first place. Big mistake. To borrow a phrase from Benjamin Netanyahu, I was trying to build a pyramid from the top down.

Working on my mindset – my attitude and approach – has brought me renewed success. A more sustainable, empowering, holistic success. As I see it, the blueprint has 6 essential steps:

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1. Understand That Your Life Won’t Change Itself

When your life isn’t what you want it to be it’s hard to hide that fact from yourself. Put another way, if you wonder whether there’s something better out there, that’s a sign that there’s something amiss in your life as it is. A better life requires change, and that change can only be made by you. Insanity, according to Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

2. Resolve to Act

Knowing you need to change is the easy bit. Making the change is the bit that takes courage. Just remember that you’ve brought yourself to this point. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t know that you want, or need, to change. Anger, or frustration, at the course of your life is simply evidence of your failure to resolve this conflict. Shakespeare knew this as long ago as 1604. In Measure for Measure he has Lucio tell us:

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt”.

So resolve it. The biggest regrets you’ll ever have are the things you didn’t do, not the things you did.

3. Believe in Yourself

When I crashed and burned I lost the material things in my life. But I didn’t lose my skills, or my work ethic. And although my confidence took a knock I remembered Kipling:

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“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.”

More recently, Arianna Huffington (of Huffington Post fame) understood the true nature of setbacks:

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”

Self belief, whether you’re starting from scratch or starting again, is an essential, indispensable element of a successful mindset. It’s a characteristic found in all successful entrepreneurs. If it doesn’t come naturally (and it often doesn’t) it can be developed just by changing the way you think.

That process can be learned – there’s a host of excellent material available online – as can the other things you need to know but currently don’t.  Self development is possible for, and available to, anyone who wants it.

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4. Understand That It’s Not Just About The Money

We all need money. Most, if not all, of us like money. It’s why we go to work, after all. It allows us to do the things we want to do, as well as the things we have to do. Whether we define happiness as simply freedom from worry or something more exotic or expressive, in our pursuit of that happiness money is pretty essential. But it isn’t everything. It really isn’t.

In my “first half” career I measured success only in terms of profit. I don’t mind telling you I made a lot of it. I was doing seven figure deals as a matter of course, I changed my car every four months, I travelled by helicopter and I reckoned, at the time, that I was doing well. Was I happy?  Er, No… Believe me, the novelty of these things wears off pretty quickly but in the meantime I had no freedom and no time for me or for those close to me.

I was the classic victim of my own success. I’d created a monster and it got to the stage where the monster was controlling me and not the other way round. And then it bit me, hard. I’m older and wiser now. I recognize that happiness – sustainable, proper happiness – is an alloy of different elements.

Time is a finite resource and it has to be allocated between those elements, of which work is only one. The others, for me, are family, education and entertainment. Yours may be different but the principle applies to all. When the balance is right, even work is a pleasure. And your life, as a whole, is happy and fulfilled.

5. Be in a Relationship With Your Business

Like any meaningful human relationship, your relationship with your business requires constant attention. Relationships don’t just happen, they have to be built and developed. Even the strongest, longest marriages take effort, every day. Dedicate the time and care your business needs and the rewards will follow.

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Particularly at the start, those needs will be substantial. Building momentum in a new-start business is labour intensive and will encroach on the other elements of your personal happiness, for a time. But remember that the effort you put in at the start is an investment not only in your business but in your future life.

And when you’ve built that momentum and all is running smoothly, don’t get complacent. Constantly assess, and re-assess, the needs of your business on an ongoing basis. At the same time, assess and recognize your own needs in the context of your work/life balance.

This is particularly important if you work from home. Fail to do this and everything, not just your business, will suffer. I speak from experience. More than this, assess your business in the context of your motivations, your goals and your ambitions. If they are no longer compatible, go back to #1…

6. Take, And Enjoy, The Rewards

Enjoy your success. Reward yourself. Take holidays and enjoy all your free time. Personal enjoyment is the fuel for motivation and sustains the essential dynamic of your relationship with your business. Fall out of love and divorce beckons.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. – Albert Schweitzer

Featured photo credit: http://getrefe.tumblr.com/ via 67.media.tumblr.com

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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