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7 Things Only an Entrepreneur Understands

7 Things Only an Entrepreneur Understands

I wasn’t always an entrepreneur…

My first job in high school was at one of our local fast food restaurants and within six months, I had a different job working at one of the local supermarkets, where I continued to work through high school and college. Over the last 25 years, I have held numerous jobs in a variety of industries with a vast amount of responsibilities.

Aside from motherhood, no “job” has been as extreme or as difficult as becoming a business owner. The rewards are smaller but carry more meaning. Every piece of education is “on the job training” and there is some solace in knowing (believing) that most will never know of your mistakes.

No matter the industry or type of business, every entrepreneur develops one thing…the same mindset.

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No one teaches us how to have it, but it is something that becomes quite necessary as soon as we open our doors to the public or offer our services. I’m sure there are books out there that can guide us, but it can be quite difficult to completely change the way one thinks, processes information, and puts things into action. All when none of those have ever been done before.

As an entrepreneur myself, I know the diligence I need to have to make my business successful and, every day, that is my goal. Some days, I feel like I accomplish nothing, even though I have been sitting at my desk for over 8 hours (or more).

7 ways to better understand the entrepreneur you know:

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1. We are our worst critic

In our world, no one could demand more of our performance than we do. If we get a bad review, we are embarrassed by it and will do what we can to rectify it. In some workplaces, people will place blame and find excuses for poor performance or lack of attention when it comes to projects being done correctly and on time. However, there are no excuses when you own your own business. There is no one to blame but yourself. Our level of standards and expectations of perfection supersede any that your boss just placed on you. You see, we are the boss and the employee.

2. We are always “on the job”

When you are an entrepreneur, we are always working. We might be away from our office, even out on a date with our spouse, and something will remind us of something we need to get done or create an entirely new idea that we need to explore more. Too often, my husband has rolled over at 3am only to catch me sending myself an email regarding something I just thought of that I know I will forget when I get up in the morning. Little triggers throughout everyday life catch us off guard and, for most people, they can just dismiss it and let it go. Afraid we might miss out on some great new display at the store, or looking for ways to improve a process, is a never-ending task for the owner of the company.

3. Some days, we just need a good cry

Believe it or not, some days are harder than others. Sometimes, we aren’t even sure why, but we know we will feel better afterward. It’s not because we aren’t tough or want to quit. It’s because we are human. Working so hard on something, day in and day out is emotionally exhausting. It wears on us and we carry it with us, even if we think it’s not there. The feeling of being overwhelmed can drain every ounce of energy we woke up with and will stress us out more than any deadline given to us in a traditional job. If the tears don’t come, sometimes a quick escape to have a beer or two with a friend works just as well.

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4. Business is personal

People have said that “business is just business.” But every business has been built and created because of a dream or vision. Someone thought of it before it became a reality. That makes it personal. We created something that didn’t exist before and we built it into what you see today. The roads we have taken may have been the right ones that included being at the right place at the right time and other roads included mistakes we wish we had known better never to have taken. So every decision, every act, every thought brought into a business comes from someone…and that someone is more often than not the business owner.

5. We celebrate the little success

Most of us didn’t start our own businesses to win some great award or make a million dollars in our first year. We face many hurdles and take more chances than anyone else. We know what’s at stake. We know the amount of effort and time we have committed to building this business, so the little things that move us forward in the direction of those same goals are ones we cherish. Maybe they aren’t something most consumers notice right away, but we know we did something pretty exciting. Those small little validations that come our way become treasured moments and sometimes, those dates become celebrated anniversaries for years to come.

6. We don’t sleep well

In some cases, sleep might even be optional. We are the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. Even after we head home, we are bombarded with work we just didn’t get done. When we aren’t hanging out with customers, meeting potential clients, or doing “grunge” work, we might just want to steal a quick 20-minute power nap. Getting to bed after 11pm and up by 5am, every day will take its toll on our minds and bodies. Some of our worst habits are a result of not taking care of ourselves and getting enough sleep just doesn’t make it on the “To Do” list for the day. Right? Sleep? We have too much to do to waste our time sleeping.

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7. We have great support

There is no way any entrepreneur could do what he or she does without the support of great people. Whether those are family or friends, knowing we have people who encourage our dreams and cheer for us, no matter what kind of a day we are having, reminds us of what it matters to keep moving forward. Sometimes that support comes from investors, the loan officer at the bank, or your neighbors in the same strip mall. Our business could not keep growing and expanding if people didn’t believe in us. We don’t always tell you, but we are ever grateful and humbled every day.

The people who choose to take their dream and make it something real will always inspire the rest of the world for a variety of reasons. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to become an entrepreneur. The commitment to moving forward, picking yourself back up, and trying something new is extraordinary in itself. Believing in one’s ability and skill takes great faith and amazing hope. However, once you choose that lifestyle, it changes you. Maybe not at first. Maybe you don’t even notice it. Maybe you can’t explain it. A room full of entrepreneurs will always have one thing in common and that elite group always understands what it takes to own and run your own business.

So, if you are an entrepreneur, I get it. I totally get it.

More by this author

Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

You may have heard someone say they are “totally right brained” or that they’re “a left brained person.”

There is a pervasive myth that’s been making its rounds for over a century: people have two hemispheres of their brains, and if they have a dominant left brain, they’re more analytical; and if they have a dominant right brain, they are more creative.

Before we go debunking this theory and then giving some tips for how people can access their creative brain centers, let’s first take a look at where the left brain/right brain lateralization theory comes from.

The Left Brain/Right Brain Lateralization Theory

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that when patients injured one side of their brains, certain skills were lost.[1] Scientists linked those different skills to one side of the brain or the other. Thus began the left brain/right brain myth that continues to this day.

Then, in the 1960s and 70s, Roger W. Sperry led 16 operations that cut the corpus callosum (the largest region that connects both brain hemispheres together) in order to try to treat patients’ epilepsy. Sperry wrote about the differences in the two hemispheres as a result of those surgeries.[2]

Sperry’s work was popularized in 1973 with a New York Times article about his lateralization theory—that people were either right brained (read: logical) or left brained (read: creative). From here, Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his work and numerous other publications spread the right brain/left brain myth.

Debunking the Right Brain/Left Brain Myth

If anything, the lateralization theory of the brain is a gross exaggeration. It is true that people have two hemispheres of their brains. It is also true that there are differences in the composition of those two hemispheres.

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However, the hemispheres are actually much more interconnected than Sperry’s work initially made it seem.

In a 2013 study,[3] scientists scanned over 1000 people’s brains, checking for lateralization. They confirmed that certain brain functions occur predominately in one hemisphere or the other but that, in reality, the brain is actually much more interconnected and complex than the right brain/left brain lateralization theory makes it seem.[4][5]

A New Metaphor for Right Brain/Left Brain

How do we get past this right brain/left brain myth?

First, let’s look at what contemporary cognitive science says about brain regions, and creative and logical modes of thinking.

My background is as an improviser and improv researcher. I wrote Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition and think looking at improvisation and the brain can shed light on a new model for talking about unlocking the brain’s creative potential.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans have shown that while trained improvisers improvise (musically on a keyboard, rapping, and comedic improvisation) an interesting shift happens in their brain activity. [6]

A region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreases in activity and creative language centers such as the medial prefrontal cortex increase in activity. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is linked with conscious thoughts—that inner voice that tells you not to say something or criticizes you when you do.

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The medial prefrontal cortex is among the brain regions linked with creativity. So, instead of thinking about right brain and left brain, perhaps it’s more current and correct to think about more specific brain regions instead of hemispheres. Perhaps, it’s more useful to think about which activities and strategies will allow us to inhibit our dorsolateral prefrontal cortexes and allow our medial prefrontal cortexes to flourish.

How to Enhance Your “Right Brain” — Creativity

Whether we’re talking about right brain versus left brain, creative versus logical, or medial prefrontal cortex versus dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, we still know enough to talk about strategies to tap into your creative brain’s full potential.

So, now that we’ve dispelled the right brain/left brain myth and looked at a more contemporary, cognitive neuroscience theory of brain regions and creativity centers, let’s look at how to tap into the potential of your creative brain.

1. Performing Arts

One way to tap into your creative brain centers is to participate in the performing arts. Whether you improvise, act, or dance, the performing arts allow you an embodied experience that will help you snap out of your habitual, logical thoughts.

Another benefit of the performing arts is that it changes your attention. Attention and creativity are inextricably linked. When we improvise, act, or dance, we have to focus intently on our fellow performers. This means we are forced to focus less on our conscious, logical thoughts. This frees us up for more creative thinking and expression.[7]

One of the conclusions of my research on improvisation is that focusing intensely on fellow improvisers and the task at hand makes it more likely that we experience a flow state. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi,[8] a Professor of Psychology and Management defines flow as an optimal psychological state when our skills match the difficulty of the task at hand. Our perception of time is altered as we get into the zone and become more present and in the moment during our chosen activity.[9]

A flow state is a creative state. It’s the opposite of crunching numbers and forcing ourselves to work out a problem with the conscious regions of our brain. So, get up, improvise, act, or dance to access your creativity.

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2. Visual Art

Art teacher Betty Edwards[10] wrote a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Here again, we see that a shift in our attention can lead us to an increase in our creative thinking.

Edwards’ book gives art students tricks to shift the way they see the world. For example, one exercise encourages students to literally flip whatever it is they’re drawing upside down before they draw it. This forces budding artists to literally see the object in a new way. This shift allows them to focus more on the individual components and patterns of the object, which allows them to draw it better.

Shifting how we see things is another way we can access our creative brain centers. Take an art class to shut off your conscious, critical thoughts and start seeing things from a new, more creative perspective.

3. Zone Out

If there’s one thing creativity doesn’t like, it’s being coerced.

I think we’ve all felt that awful feeling of trying to force ourselves to be creative. When we force it, we’re really trying to force our logical brain regions to be creative. It’s like asking your gardener to perform your appendix surgery. It’s just not what she does.

Instead, stop forcing it. Take a break. Take a long walk or a relaxing bath or shower. Let your mind wander.

Whatever you do, stop forcing it. This break lets your creative centers rise to the surface of your attention and get heard.

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4. Practice Mindfulness

The final trick to start accessing your so-called right brain is to practice mindfulness.

Now, there’s a lot of different ways to go about mindfulness. You can take a more physical approach with a yoga class. Or you can try meditating to become more aware and in tune with your thoughts and feelings: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

You could also try to incorporate fun mindfulness exercises[11] into your everyday routine like forcing yourself to go on detours or pretending you’re a detective who needs to examine people and places closely.

Any way you do it, mindfulness exercises and training can help you become better versed in how your brain works and what your normal thought process is like on a day-to-day basis. If we’re ever going to reach our optimal creativity, we have to become an expert in how our individual brain functions. Mindfulness is one way to become your very own brain expert.

Mindfulness also has added benefits like calming us, slowing our breathing, and helping us become more observant, which are also great ways to start tapping into our creative potential.

Final Thoughts

So, it may not be correct to say that our right brain is our creative brain, but it is still a valid pursuit to try to optimize our creative brain centers.

The key to do so is to relax, become observant, shift your perspective, move your body, try something new, and, whatever you do, don’t force it.

Creativity can feel slippery. It can abandon us when we need it most, but by slowing down and looking at things from a new perspective, we can give ourselves a better chance of tapping into our ultimate creativity, even if that doesn’t exactly mean our “right brain.”

More Tips on Boosting Creativity

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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