The Joyful Entrepreneur

When you think about entrepreneurs what comes to mind? I’m betting that it’s something different for just about everyone. Some will visualize rugged individuals with a pioneering spirit while others will see highly driven and extremely creative people. To how many of us did the word “joy” come to mind?

Entrepreneurship isn’t all about 100-hour weeks and one sacrifice after another. It doesn’t have to only be about struggling to find the right value proposition or meeting the next payroll. Entrepreneurship can also be a truly joyful experience. After all of the “grind it out” moments we endure, it’s good to remind ourselves of the fact that there is much to be positive, optimistic and grateful about in our entrepreneurial existence.

Our joy is derived not necessarily from the financial rewards we eventually realize. After all, the dollars are simply a measure for keeping score. No, the joy comes from our leadership and coaching that enables younger or newer colleagues to blossom into confident and productive contributors – both professionally and personally. The joy comes from our ability to stop for a moment in the midst of chaos; assess a situation; identify a problem and then solve it. Great joy comes from creating a product or service for which the marketplace responds enthusiastically and perhaps a difference is made in the lives of many.

Joy is always there but sometimes (maybe often) we forget to look for it. We become so wrapped up in strategy and tactics that we miss that bright shiny apple that is there for the picking. Why does this happen? Why can we be so obsessively serious at times? Perhaps we’ve bought into the meme that entrepreneurship is going to be a difficult marathon. We’ve heard that we need thick skin and a ton of resilience to have any hope of succeeding. And thus we become conditioned to slugging it out and expecting the journey to be tough. Of course there’s some element of truth to this, but if we intentionally also look for the joy in what we do, guess what? We’ll find it!!

We can re-program ourselves to seek and find true joy every single day. It doesn’t take much effort to allow moments of jubilation and glee to permeate our being. That spark of imagination can also transform into an explosion of joy when we allow for it. Winning the competition for a new client can be reason for feelings of exuberance – if we give permission for such feelings to come forth. Those smashingly positive reviews on social media can be realized as a triumphant moment when we become immersed in their afterglow. There’s a common thread to all of this. We must be active participants in pulling the lever that opens the gate whereby joy is invited into our lives. It is after all, our choice.

I know many entrepreneurs who lead joyless lives. I look at their businesses and see all sorts of potential for joyful moments. Yet, these entrepreneurs are so focused on their KPIs or squeezing out one more nickel of efficiency that they are oblivious to how much a celebration of joy could mean to themselves and to their entire organizations. Joy is a mindset and it is critical to the culture we want to create.

Here’s a simple exercise. Get up early some morning and find a quiet place where you can watch the sun rise. Feel the warmth on your face. Watch the changing color of the sky in all its exquisite glory. Do you get a tingle up your spine as a wave of splendor washes over you? If not, were you a real participant in this moment? Or were other thoughts creeping into your consciousness? Perhaps you remembered something you absolutely must do today. Or a nagging worry that caused some tossing and turning during the night emerges once again from its hiding place. I love watching the sun peek over the horizon and I never fail to enjoy an endorphin rush while experiencing this spectacle. Finding joy throughout each day in everything we do is an identical process.

Happy and well-adjusted entrepreneurs realize that there are massive gold nuggets of joy just below the surface of their daily lives. They also understand that they can walk over these gold nuggets without even knowing they are there. Or they can choose to find them with very little effort. I hope that you decide to begin finding your gold nuggets of unlimited joy.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 117 – Little Steps to Sweet Success.

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.

Vreugde (and More Gioia!)

Yeah, I had to look them up too. The first word is Dutch and the second word is Italian. But they mean the same thing. In Spanish the word is alegría and in Swedish it’s glädje. So enough with the mystery. The word is JOY. Unfortunately this is a word that is foreign to many entrepreneurs.

You see, we entrepreneurs are a pretty serious and driven bunch. We have important stuff to do and companies to build. We’re always moving at the speed of light and struggle to find enough hours in the day. Joy? Let’s see, maybe we can squeeze it on the calendar three weeks from Thursday at 2:00 PM . . . for 20 minutes. Is the picture coming into focus yet? The point is that many of us don’t allow joy to get within two miles, much less become an integral part of our lives. After all, feeling and celebrating joy isn’t very macho and we don’t want someone to get the wrong idea.

Why do we persist in having such an allergic reaction to joy? Can we become one of the next captains of industry and still allow for a modicum of joy? Of course we can answer in the affirmative and actually we must. Joy and success are tied inextricably by definition. If you don’t believe me – look it up! Merriam-Webster clearly states that “joy is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” But here’s something else that I’ve learned. We can feel great joy when we celebrate the success and good fortune of others.

I believe that joy should become a part of our daily lives. It’s one of the healthiest emotions we can have. And here’s something I’ve learned that can become your secret weapon. Do you know what it feels like to get stuck in the downward spiral of negative thinking? We lost a deal to a competitor that we were sure we had in the bag. Or one of our key team members just quit. And maybe the bank wouldn’t make the loan we needed. When faced with these kinds of issues our thoughts can turn dark very quickly. But we can just as quickly turn the tables by “jumping into joy” and with both feet. I started practicing this concept a number of years ago. Every time I’d start to feel down, I would intentionally find someone who was in a good place – a friend, family or team member. Then I would applaud their success or good fortune. It’s amazing what a lift this provided for me, not to mention how it made the other person feel.

Joy is uplifting. It’s shout-it-from-the-rooftops passion. It’s at least one level above happiness if not more. Joy kicks the endorphin rush into high gear and does all sorts of positive things to our bodies. We can experience joy through all five of our senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. If we don’t practice it or if we wait for it to come to us, then in effect we’re suppressing it. But if we go looking for joy it’s incredibly easy to find. And don’t we like to be around people who are joyful? They are easy to spot. Their facial features are etched with a permanent smile and a twinkle in their eye. They radiate warmth and bubble with personality.

We can continue to be Mr. or Ms. Seriously No Nonsense, or we can lighten up and have some fun at work. For a number of summers, we had an Ice Cream Day. I dressed up in a ridiculous looking ice cream cone suit and pushed an ice cream cart around the office passing out Nestlé drumsticks, fudgesicles and other delectable delights. I had a blast and everyone had a good chuckle. This truly was a joyful moment for all.

Life is pretty boring without joy – and so are we. Joy tramples negativity and helps balance our emotions. There’s no downside whatsoever to reveling in joy.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Audio Episode 15 – The Royal Treatment.

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.

ice-cream-suit