There’s one particular four word phrase that I believe causes a lot of paralysis in business and life and that’s “My situation is different.”
No doubt this instinctive conclusion helped our ancestors survive millions of years ago. We might have witnessed the family in the next cave becoming dinner for a lion, but we weren’t about to let that happen to us. We put up a fight instead.
The problem in the 21st century is that those words are usually justification for a lack of action or success. A software entrepreneur might say to himself that it was easy for Bill Gates to become a billionaire because he started Microsoft when the software business was just being born and it’s much harder now to make money in software. Sure, adversity is all around us, but we can change the way we view it. I have isolated three principles to help you shift your mindset:
1. Catch yourself in the act
Once you become aware of the syndrome, you’ll encounter it multiple times a day. Awareness is half the battle.
2. Acknowledge the differences and then move beyond them
All of our experiences are different, but don’t let that become an excuse for inaction. Yes, the software world has changed. Some opportunities have narrowed, but others are just appearing.
3. Replace “My situation is different” with “What if”
One phrase represents limitation, the other possibility. When you set your brain working in a particular direction, it wants to keep going with a form of mental momentum. When we needed funding ourselves but were convinced we couldn’t get it, I began asking myself “What if?” What if we could document our collection processes to demonstrate that the results could be replicated? What if we could then convince the rating agencies to give us a bond rating? The “what if” mentality was magnetic and attracted ideas. Making the excuse that my situation was different repelled ideas.
The next time you hear the story of a close competitor or even an entrepreneur in a distant industry, I challenge you not to look for differences in your situation, but to look for footholds in your climb toward success.