Entrepreneurs Eating Glass

Sounds like a good name for a punk band, doesn’t it? Elon Musk once said, “Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.” Maybe a tad melodramatic, but his point is well made–it’s not a path for everyone.

Being an entrepreneur is fraught with ambiguity–the very ambiguity that most people avoid like the plague because it can be so stressful.

There were times during the great recession that many of us yearned for more predictability and some semblance of steady cash flow. However, we ultimately decided that the pros of being an entrepreneur (being in control of your own destiny) outweigh the cons (having to take orders from someone else), so we need to take advantage of any control over our fate we can muster.

Speaking of control, I’m a big fan, so let’s talk about controlling how you think. I really like Steve Jobs’ tagline “Think different” (English teachers all over the country are cringing at this very moment). Also consider one of my all-time favorite quotes from Mark Twain: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.” So how do you think?

How you think creates your self-fulfilling prophecy every day. If you think you’re “lucky” and good things are going to happen (and work smart to make it so), most often they will. If you think you’re “unlucky” and mope around all day, then bad things will happen for sure (like nothing).

I like the part of the Serenity Prayer about knowing what you can control and controlling it–it’s just so darned liberating! You certainly can control your thinking, which controls most of your feelings, which control most of your behavior, which controls the results you get.

Despite inevitable ups and downs in your environment (economy, demographics, technology, etc.), you can control your career fate as an entrepreneur. For some of us it beats the heck out of working for someone who probably doesn’t know what we really want anyhow. Somehow eating glass sounds a bit tastier than it did at first blush…

High-Performance Habits

  1. If you’re not already an entrepreneur and are considering it, be completely honest with yourself about what really makes you happy. Being a strong team player with more predictable cash flow is a noble career path too.
  2. Don’t engage in “catastrophizing” (imagining all the things that could go wrong in the future), especially when you hit a rough patch. Substitute instead some good rational analysis and probability estimating.
  3. Be optimistic (and realistic) until you have actual data to suggest that it’s time to be pessimistic about something. Life is a lot more fun, and you’ll get much better business results.
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