Countless books, articles, and blogs have been written on the qualities that ‘make’ a successful entrepreneur. Tenacity, drive, creativity and a positive mindset, for example, are all qualities which can be spotted in action relatively easily by observing and listening to entrepreneurs. In doing so we can learn from their successes – and their mistakes.
Beyond these more visible attributes exhibited in entrepreneurs more complex and hidden qualities contributing to achievement are also in play. What else is happening in their hearts and minds that support them in their endeavor? Let’s pick three and investigate them.
1. Ability to translate
Here’s a little experiment for you: take a sheet of paper and write down a few bullet points that come to mind when describing entrepreneurship. Now ask a few colleagues to do the same, and compare your notes when you’re done. Don’t worry, it isn’t an intelligence test or a competition!
Look closer. What is the overlap between your descriptions, and what’s different? Where you have written down the same words, ask each other to elaborate. Do you hear similarities or differences in your descriptions?
Now, this conversation is an example of your ability to translate. Where you are looking at the same concept – entrepreneurship – your colleague will think of different things, or similar things that on closer inspection are somewhat different after all.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that the same principle will have a different meaning for other people. They look for these differences and know how to suspend their own definitions, almost as if learning the other’s language. It makes people feel truly understood and responded to, and they are more likely to buy into the entrepreneur’s ideas as a consequence.
When success arrives as a result of your hard work, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing your own publicity and behaving accordingly. Being the one with all the answers means making it harder to receive the ideas of others who want to help build your business: you might not even spot a great idea when it is offered to you.
Many successful people have said it: don’t believe your own hype because people will stop believing in you. Keep the door open for honest conversations. Celebrate your success with other people; the golden rule is to publicly give credit to those who have helped you. Own your success, and share it.
3. Emotional non-defensiveness
Any entrepreneur will tell you to never stop believing in your ideas. Tenacity and drive go hand in hand, and a high level of confidence and self-belief will see you through inevitable setbacks. So far, so good.
However, many of us are so personally invested in our entrepreneurial success that it is very hard to keep on keeping on when the going is tough. Few are the business owners who have never woken in a cold sweat worrying about paying the rent… So what’s the secret here?
Being invested in your ideas, without it getting truly personal.
While that sounds like a paradox – which it is – it is also usefully true. Here is where we all need to have an honest conversation with ourselves:
• How open, tolerant and relaxed do you feel towards others with a view on your enterprise?
• When things go wrong, do you seek to lay blame, and if so, how and where?
• Do you feel tense and defensive when faced with challenges?
• What happens in your environment when you do? And what are the consequences of that for you and your enterprise?
Nobody said it was easy…
Growing your emotional resilience is an investment worth making. If you know you have scope to grow your entrepreneurship this way – and almost all of us do – start by acknowledging these feelings when they occur and making some notes about them. The more you understand about and anticipate these hidden processes, the better equipped you’ll be to choose your responses.
Now that is a quality worth having.