Amidst the clutter, chaos and the coveted world of entrepreneurship, comes a lot more than meets the eye. The vices and the cracks are all hidden behind the camera. There is no script and you have to be in the studio, facing a million people, who know you personally. And there’s no opportunity for a retake. You just have to keep going, beyond your mistakes and the pressure either breaks you down or shines you up. It’s not a game of skill, it’s all about your mindset.
Most entrepreneurs have characteristic signs that are visible from their elementary education. Enough research has been done on entrepreneurial traits across geographies. A study by the Harvard Business School recognised some of these traits in 5 buckets: Openness to experience (describes the breadth, depth, originality, and complexity of an individual’s mental and experimental life), Conscientiousness (describes socially prescribed impulse control that facilitates task- and goal-orientated behavior), Extraversion (implies an energetic approach toward the social and material world and includes traits such as sociability, activity, assertiveness, and positive emotionality); Agreeableness (contrasts a prosocial and communal orientation toward others with antagonism and includes traits such as altruism, tender-mindedness, trust, and modesty); and Neuroticism (contrasts emotional stability and even-temperedness with negative emotionality, such as feeling anxious, nervous, sad, and tense).
In spite of personality trait based classifications, corporate organisations & institutions fail to recognise these traits hidden behind their heap of processes & structures. They try and push performers in general to try harder or achieve better grades. Without realising that intrinsic motivations might be skewed against the herd processes. And that’s usually the inflection point for an entrepreneur to branch out independently into the world, either after a cushy corporate job or straight after an education institution that failed to recognise and nurture the mindset.
But once you enter the world of entrepreneurship, with an idea or while trying to set up your venture, there’s little experience you have about the challenges, pitfalls and opportunities that can unfurl. While easy to say, it’s not always possible to learn from the visionaries and successful businessmen, because geographical mindsets, venture ideas, social pressures, financial stability and individual acumen vastly differ. And so a first time entrepreneur needs to make his own mistakes and learn from them.
If education systems around the world started focusing on entrepreneurship as a mindset rather than a subject, the level of preparedness would be much higher. And it would end up creating more success stories than failures. The resilience and grit it asks for would significantly increase, by practicing entrepreneurship as a student, just like medicine. It’s a field where institutions and families start aligning your mindset from a very early age. And then it takes years to finally practice by yourself and become a doctor. The ecosystem around plays a crucial role, especially from your families and your educational institutions. But nobody prepares you for the mindset of an entrepreneur. And hence, the startup mortality rate is high.
Once you start your venture, right from having conversations with prospective customers or while hiring your first team member, there’s immense sub-conscious pressure on your performance. Probably arising from the society around, the expectation to get everything right, every single time is very high. There’s no rehearsal, no script or no preparedness for any situation. You are the last line of defense for almost everything that the business throws at you.
It’s like LIVE television – there’s no scope for a retake. You gotta give it all you have, every single time.
And that pressure to perform, while protecting the sanctity of your vision, is brutal. It either teaches you to fail and get back up on your feet, or it breaks you to not want to go any further. And that’s where mindset kicks in. The relentlessness it asks for, is like a gaping pit. You have to learn how to fly on your way down.
The ones who have the right mindset to take on challenges, succeed. And the definition of success is vastly different for every entrepreneur. Smaller instances of daily life that help you get better than who you were yesterday, is what you get used to. And that’s what most entrepreneurs silently thrive on. It’s like an addiction you get out of micro-instances of success. Like a dopamine shot straight into your cerebral cortex. And then it becomes a habit. There’s enough literature on how ‘winning’ is a mindset and how neuroscience has a huge role to play in individual success. But in spite of scientific data and business successes, there’s little that one gets exposed to during early days of childhood, about entrepreneurship. It’s almost as if you have to stumble upon it in life and preserve hard to stay out there, amidst all the eyeballs looking at you, for your next successful move.
But it’s the adrenaline rush that most entrepreneurs get, out of being on the LIVE television of life, that sails them through.