Question: I’m a pretty optimistic person most of the time. But sometimes when things don’t go quite right I get a bit discouraged. What can I do to avoid these kinds of feelings?
Answer: There is no doubt that maintaining a positive and an optimistic mindset 100% of the time is a high bar to clear. But to be successful entrepreneurs it must be our goal and we must always strive to achieve it. Why? Because an entrepreneur’s worst enemy is negative energy. It saps us of our creativity and our drive. If unchecked, it can trap us in a downward spiral.
I’ve been discouraged at times earlier in my career. And here’s what I learned. Being discouraged never solved one thing for me. Wallowing around in despair never made me feel one whit better. I’m pretty sure that I never made a single nickel as a result of being discouraged. Some might say that discouragement is simply a normal human reaction and that it’s Pollyana-ish to ignore it. Perhaps this is true, but it’s a human reaction that we must eliminate. But how?
Generally discouragement is the result of some sort of adversity. Teaching ourselves not to feel discouraged requires us to examine the way we feel about adversity. Remember this – adversity is a perception and only a perception. It is not reality. What we may have previously perceived as adversity instead is an opportunity for growth and experience. Staying cool, calm and collected when everything seems to be crumbling around us takes courage which is the antithesis of “discourage.” A colleague of mine stepped into his role running one of our business units at a time when that unit was experiencing some significant challenges. He had never run his own business before and not only did he have to learn how to do that, but he also had to learn how to fix some pretty big problems pretty quickly. I am pleased to say that he mastered both and in a big way!
Along the way, my colleague told me that he felt discouraged often. I can remember a number of times when he came into my office in a state of hopelessness and near-panic. There was no doubt that he could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. We talked a lot about how he was choosing to look at his situation. Eventually he understood that he was gaining an amazing amount of experience in a relatively short period of time. He concluded that any adversity he encountered in the future would pale in comparison to what he had initially dealt with. He also started to catch a glimpse of what his business would look like when his “trial by fire” was over. Today he has much thicker skin; he has sharpened his instincts; he has a much more consistently positive mindset, and his business unit is thriving.
When we become discouraged – when the task at hand looks insurmountable – the mindset we choose will lead us to succeed or fail. And if we resolve to maintain a positive perspective and look for the opportunity in adverse conditions, we will succeed beyond our wildest dreams.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.