“Discipline equals freedom.”
– Jocko Willink – Former Navy Seal Commander of operation Bruiser in Iraq
Fear sets in as anyone dabbling in entrepreneurship contemplates the magnitude of the task and the risks taken. Your stomach might also turn and your mouth become desert dry as you start facing the consequences of a dilemma that you have judged as impossible to manage or solve. An invisible object seems to press hard against your chest as you attempt to figure out how you are going to pay the bills with your cashflow under severe strain.
Symptoms of fear such as the aforementioned can test your resolve and assist you to reach a higher level of consciousness or it can numb you to a degree of total debilitation. Your choice, no one can overcome the fear for you.
Jocko Willink an ex-Navy Seal commander turned Business Leadership coach sites discipline as an antidote to fear. The more you practise even in situations when you do not want to and the harder you practise consistently the fear of failure diminishes in proportion to your conscious effort. I have not met Jocko Willink in person yet sincerely hope to. I am however a fan of his podcast and his books.
Besides being a decorated Navy Seal commander and respected task force leader in the much-publicised operation Bruiser in Iraq he is also reported to be a daily practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu an art that certainly requires a high level of discipline and humility, when a practitioner does not display a character of the aforementioned traits the art will teach it to him or her the hard way.
The reader simply has to listen to Jockos’ intense speech or watch a video on his Facebook page to realise what a lifelong practise of discipline can do to a man’s’ state of mind and what discipline can mould you into. Fearless Entrepreneurship is what we need in South Africa; fearless leadership is what we sorely miss in this potentially wonderful country of ours that is if we are as a collective truly serious about making this country great.
Fearless does not mean arrogant, it most certainly does not allude to ignorance, and above all it most certainly does not mean being totally self-absorbed.
Serve others, your friends, your family, your employees, and your customers through your fearlessness and through your brave action
Fearless in this context does not portray the superhuman ability of never experiencing the emotion or feelings around fear, it instead describes the cultivation of discipline to such a degree that you harness the experience of the senses as it confronts you with apprehension and turn it into brave action. There is no sense in denying that entrepreneurship is extremely hard work and not for everybody. Nobody told you that this was going to be easy, yet the journey of entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding and positively challenging.
Motivation and Willpower is an internal matter, no one can motivate you, you are the decision maker as an entrepreneur. The only thing that a mentor or coach can do for you is to assist in creating an environment wherein it is easier for you to motivate yourself. Motivation and Willpower is fickle however and something as small as a craving can overcome your level of motivation. Discipline is not fickle and when cultivated as a habit through repeated work and sacrifice a high level of discipline can overcome almost anything.
Turn the volume down on the excuses that you use to avoid being a “disciple of discipline”. The most popular ones that has most likely run through every entrepreneur’s mind, at least at some stage are:
- “I do not have the time.”
- “I am so busy.”
- “I am tired, let me hit that snooze button.”
- “That person de-motivated me.” (As if motivation was an external factor.)
- “I am not naturally gifted.”
“So, and so is just lucky, and I am not so lucky.” (When you witness the blood and tears and hours spent on honing their respective crafts you can find to your surprise that success can often appear to be luck, yet the truth more often than not is that successful entrepreneurs in general faced extreme hardships and had to work extremely hard before the appearance of luck occurred.)
“It is not my fault, it is … (fill in the blank) fault.” (The blame game has become an international sport with I believe more players than soccer, basketball, baseball, and American football combined.)
“Yes, but it is so hard.”
“I’ll leave it to the experts.” (And then you do not actually leave it to the experts you simply leave it undone.)
Continuously paint your excuses on the canvass of your mind and that will be your beliefs which in turn logically will affect your actions negatively. This is your choice and your responsibility as an entrepreneur just remember that you are the painter.
The above statements naturally lead to the follow up question of: “How do I reach a point of fearlessness if I already am in a lifelong spiral of apprehension, worry and concern?” I am confident that various answers exist to this question and with this writing I challenge the reader to diligently take on the effort of research and practise to find an answer that best works for her or him. Simply to offer help in the process I offer the following as a possible answer:
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
– Mark Twain
Start small as to not overwhelm yourself with too much and sudden change. Begin with simple things to slowly start cultivating a more disciplined approach to business and to life:
- Have a morning ritual even if it is just a few minutes in the beginning to start the day in a positive frame of mind. You could start your day by reading a few pages of a book that challenges you to higher level of thinking. You could pray or meditate. Do some exercise. Experiment until you find a morning ritual that works for you.
- Make your bed. It can be the simplest things that when put together results in a more disciplined and better form of you.
- Cut out one bad thing at a time from your diet. Cut out bread this week. Next week maybe sugar.
- Start exercising even if you start with a five-minute walk.
- Start a journal. I call this “bleeding on paper”, and from personal experience I can honestly say that if I did not have the therapeutic device of regular writing at my disposal I most probably would have had a severe panic attack a day. The purpose of this journal is to give an honest account of your struggles fears and progress as you slowly advance on this journey of discipline.
- Follow those that you respect and learn from on Facebook, listen to their podcasts, read their books and or blogs. Never stop learning. Increase the time spent slowly but surely on this and eventually ensure that the average time spent on learning by far exceeds the time spent on watching TV. Act on what you learn and you might just be very surprised at the results.
“Accustom yourself to tireless activity.”
– Supreme Commander Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov.
Have a clear written statement of your purpose and your various goals that you often refer to. Fix your mind and actions on making your purpose a reality and steady yourself through disciplined practise and lessen fear, for failures will approach to test your resolve and discipline.
I root for and have South-African entrepreneurs close to my heart. I sincerely hope to see you on the other side where we all are in a state of fearlessness. Until then do the work, repeatedly and tirelessly.
Build Solid Back-Room Basics For Business Success
What do South African entrepreneurs really know about what goes on behind the scenes building of businesses?
South Africa has a vibrant start-up culture with great ideas starting out with a bang, but closing down with a whimper because entrepreneurs picture the glory at the destination, but not the nitty gritty of the journey to get there.
Be smart about scale
When I started out, I literally did everything myself. I negotiated and signed leases, I arranged the furnishing for our apartments and managed the interior décor process. When guests started using our apartments, I signed them in at reception, and then carried their bags.
At that stage, there was no money in my business to pay for attorneys, interior designers and decorators and there certainly wasn’t enough money for porters.
However, when we got to 70 apartments, it didn’t make sense for me to be a porter any longer, so I hired someone to do that job, explaining clearly what I expected of him. Before I did that, though, I spent time designing incentives for him so that he would be more affordable for me, and so that he could earn as much money as possible.
Related: Training Is A Two-Way Trick
Know your talents – and your limitations
There are certain things I’m really good at, but I know without a doubt that sales isn’t one of them – and without sales, you don’t have a business. I couldn’t afford a top-flight salesperson, but I knew that I could attract the right talent with the right business model. I set some high targets for Pamela Niemand, but offered her one third of the business if she met them. We both won: she earned a share in a successful, trend-setting business, and my trend-setting business became successful!
Use your skills – but know when to hand over
My background in corporate finance meant that I had all the accounting skills I needed when we first started out, but I knew that the time would come when I would need someone focused on that side of the business full time. Doing it all myself first meant that I could brief my first full-time accountant clearly and with a deep understanding of what would be required – and that I could help that person find and fix any challenges based on my experience.
In summary, my simple advice to anyone starting out would be to bootstrap your business yourself without investors or staff for as long as you can, but don’t over-extend yourself. Know when to delegate tasks away so that you can focus on what you’re really good at – but don’t do it before you have a solid understanding of what’s required. Know what you’ll never be able to do, and bring in that resource from the beginning – but do it based on performance-based incentives, so that your fledgling business doesn’t lose out if your early hires don’t perform.
The Myth About The Relationship Between Entrepreneurs And Taking Risks
This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.
“I can’t be an entrepreneur or start a business. I don’t have the appetite for risk.” This line is spoken regularly to brave few that leave the perceived safety of a job, take the plunge and venture into the unknown world of being an entrepreneur. However, there is a gross misunderstanding in the appetite for risk that entrepreneurs are believed to have innately inside of them.
The little-known truth is that the majority of entrepreneurs don’t like taking risks and according to Luca Rigotti and Mathew Ryan in their paper that explores a model for quantifying risk and its translation into enterprising action, the results were very interesting.
Risk is explained by these theorists as taking action where the outcomes are unpredictable as well the factors leading to that outcome are unknown. One of the theorists in this area, Saraswati, who coined the term “tolerance for ambiguity” has a more accurate description of what the outside world deems taking a risk.
In simple terms, entrepreneurs don’t go head-first into the shark infested water because they like the idea of danger and potentially being eaten alive; or the thrill of being able to say that they survived whilst others perished in a pool of maimed flesh. They carefully calculate that the sharks have been fed recently, some of the sharks are ragged tooth sharks that whilst looking like they are set to devour a human being, are actually incapable of opening their jaws wide enough to bite. For those sharks that still have space or who smell blood and can’t resist the urge to kill, the entrepreneur has a cage set up that he can retreat into quickly and a knife with which to protect himself.
Tolerance for ambiguity is the careful evaluation of what is known at the moment where a decision must be made and an open-mindedness for what is not known. This, coupled with the agility to change course when new information is presented, has earned the label of high risk appetite. The appetite is not for the risk, but it is the ability to move down a path, when all the information is not known.
I likened it to a person moving around in the dark holding a candle. The candle casts a light that illuminates a limited parameter around the person holding the candle. What is beyond the light that the candle casts, is unknown and potentially a risk. But as the person moves forward, the light reveals what was unknown and in the shadows. As the light reveals new information and new challenges added to what they have already learnt, the person can make better informed decisions. The tolerance is in not knowing what lies in the shadows yet to be illuminated by the candle and then the confidence in his or her own ability to act on what new information is discovered.
None of this behaviour is risky or irresponsible. There is careful consideration for what is known and a tolerance for what is unknown. And once there is more information available, a calculated next step is taken and more information is assimilated into what is now known. This is the true relationship between entrepreneurs and the apparent illusion of risk.
7 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs To Adopt Today
Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…
For some people, becoming an entrepreneur is as easy as stepping off a bus. They have a big idea, they bring it to life, they hire employees and the next thing they are in a building smothered in branding and living the business dream. For others, the idea and the passion are there but they are unsure as to how they can make these into a sustainable reality. Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t like instant coffee – you don’t add ideas and suddenly get all the skills you need to thrive.
Want to know what skills can help you build confidence and your business? Here are seven…
1. Believable vision
Make sure that your vision is believable and achievable. It has to live in the realms of possibility, not as a blue-sky idea that looks good on paper but wouldn’t work in reality. You need to be able to live this vision so make it realistic and achievable. This will not only keep you on track, but your employees as well.
2. Be inclusive
You need to ensure that every person who works with you feels as if they are part of your vision and understand it. They need to relate to where the business is going and how it plans to get there. Many leaders don’t understand why employees are not engaged with their business and it’s because many of them don’t actually understand what the business does.
3. Communication is critical
If you don’t have fantastic communication skills, then now is the time to hone them. When it comes to building employee morale, commitment and engagement, nothing works as effectively as constant communication. The same applies to client relationships. You need to repeat the vision and ethos of the company at every opportunity and you need to be part of the team that does this communication.
4. Be visible and transparent
You are communicating, now you need to make that communication genuine by being both open and clear. People respond incredibly well to transparency. They feel as if they are part of something that recognises their value and contribution and it fosters a more inclusive company culture. Often toxic cultures come about thanks to a lack of communication and visibility. People know when things are being kept secret and react negatively to it, regardless of whether they’re an employee, a customer or a manager.
5. Be practical
You aren’t going to build an empire in a fortnight so focus on a realistic and practical business strategy that has clear benchmarks and even clearer goals. Communicate these with the company and keep everybody on the same page. Practical and achievable means long-term success.
6. Build opportunities
As people become immersed in your company and part of its growth they will also need opportunities to grow. You need to tie their careers to the business and create opportunities for them.
7. Be human
It takes people to build a culture, a company and a future. It’s essential that you are human in your interactions and your treatment of others. The impact that a down to earth and authentic attitude can have on a company is extraordinary.
Women Entrepreneur Successes1 week ago
Watch List: 50 Top SA Business Women To Watch
Snapshots1 week ago
25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa
Support for Women Entrepreneurs2 weeks ago
11 Quotes On Hard Work, Risk-Taking And Getting Started From Beauty Billionaire Estee Lauder
Entrepreneur Profiles2 weeks ago
The House That Moladi Built – How Challenging Traditional Building Empowers Local Entrepreneurs
Lessons Learnt5 days ago
How Lorenzo Escobal Bootstrapped His Way To Competing With Titans And Attracting Top-Tier Clients
Leading7 days ago
How To, In Practice, Distinguish Between Executive, Non-Executive And Independent Directors And Their Functions
Entrepreneur Profiles7 days ago
In Touch Media’s Margie Carr Shares How She Made An Out-Of-Home Media Agency A Solid Competitor
Company Posts1 week ago
Smoothie Franchise Opportunity: Puré Frooty Is A One-Of-A-Kind Smoothie Franchise Business