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The 10 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Building An Entrepreneurial Mindset

We are all constantly forced to reinvent, and that takes entrepreneurial thinking with deliberate mindset, habits, and surroundings.

The 10 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Building An Entrepreneurial Mindset
[Photo: Flickr user Christopher Liang]

We often speak of entrepreneurship within a tech or startup space, though surely the family running your neighborhood market is also entrepreneurial, and the individuals in the corporate setting practicing intrapreneurship are entrepreneurial as well.

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But how is the energy these people bring into the world different from that of a community organizer building neighborhood bonds or a volunteer catalyzing economic or health-care growth abroad? How is this different from a hospital president making thorough revisions of patient care or an artist building relationships with her audience?

In this ever-changing world, we are constantly forced to reinvent ourselves. This reinvention process by very nature requires an entrepreneurial thinking. And that takes deliberate mindset, habits, and surroundings. Here’s what I have learned about entrepreneurial mindset:

1. There Is No Substitute For Love

The great poet Rumi once said: “What you seek is seeking you.”

Sooner or later, our entrepreneurial journey needs to support what we each love to do. It is only when we find the love of our true calling that we find inspiration to fight for our purpose. Our love drives our passion–gives us the energy for the long haul. And to discover such love, it takes self-awareness and connecting with ourselves.

2. You Are Your Greatest Investment

In rough waters when there is no one to call upon, it is our skills that save us. Mastering our skills requires utter devotion. It is only through daily devotion that we improve our authentic craft. Devotion is our best sustainable self-investment.

Devotion is what gives us the daily dose of confidence. You can lose everything, but no one can take your authentic craft.

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3. The Fearless Are Busy Creating Their Future

Acting fearlessly often means heading into uncharted territory, challenging conventional paths, or putting aside the need for safety and comfort. Where do you get the energy to do so? Usually from your authentic purpose–your personal calling in life.

The fearless are busy creating their future. They visualize their future and invent their way into it. Understanding exactly what we want is the foundation for our success. But executing that success requires taking the next step, every day, no matter how difficult it may be. That means you don’t get to sit around and wait for success.

4. Suffering Needs To Be Your Friend

I love this Japanese proverb: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

The more things we try, the more likely we are to fail. And that’s very much the essence of being an entrepreneur.

Failure and adversity inherently invokes pain, suffering, and disappointments. Accepting and growing through our pain is part of entrepreneurial growth. This is hardly easy. Like any other skill, learning to suffer well requires conscious practice and learning. It is only when we learn to welcome suffering, we are able to get up repeatedly. For an entrepreneur, pain is a must–therefore suffering needs be optional.

5. You Need To Inspire Yourself Every Day

Inspiration can come from anywhere and anyone. Mine often comes from meditation, cooking, writing, listening to music, or watching movies.

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For example, writing allows me to consciously put these positive reaffirmations on paper to visualize my destiny. I have also found writing is therapeutic for coping with my adversities. It allows me to turn my anger, fear, and disappointments into inspiration for myself and my readers. It serves as stress relief when I try to turn negative into positive by finally expressing what I feel down deep inside.

6. Work Smarter To Be More Productive

Regardless of our background, location, or profession, there is one language that is the same, and that language is the language of progress. Progress certainly comes from putting in the hard work, but working hard is not enough. To achieve our desired outcome, each one of us needs to find our own ways to work smarter.

Working smarter requires a combination of critical thinking, discipline, and techniques that make us productive everyday. It’s a matter of making continual progress.

Entrepreneurship is about achieving goals with limited resources. Therefore being “effective” everyday is part and parcel of entrepreneurial thinking.

7. Avoid People Who Hold You Back

We all know that the people we surround ourselves with make the difference between failure and success. If you’ve ever been around someone who leaves you feeling exhausted and drained, you have probably encountered an emotional vampire. These people don’t drain your blood, but they do drain your vital energy. Emotional vampires can be found anywhere.

It is important to avoid people who bring us down, waste our time, take us backward, and have no empathy in our suffering. Make a deliberate effort to spend time only with people who uplift you and make you stronger.

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8. Believing In Chance Encounters Moves Us Forward

In any journey–entrepreneurial or otherwise–there are many encounters. Some are planned; some are by accident; and some by divine intervention. I have had many amazing “chance encounters,” where it seems as if the universe rallied to come to my aid when I needed the help most.

They have occurred when least expected–and many of the people I’ve encountered have become business partners, friends, and family. And whenever those encounters initially left me with a “negative” experience, they turned out to be much-needed lessons for me. I believe chance encounters happen to those who remain optimistic no matter what.

9. Saying No And Making Tough Calls Is Essential

It takes more courage to say no than to say yes. But if we do it, we protect ourselves from making poor decisions. This tactic can help us stay focused and prevent unnecessary complexity and wrong turns. It can also keep us from getting involved with the wrong people.

Dr. Judith Sills writes in Psychology Today :

There’s a lot of talk, and a lot to be said, for the power of Yes. Yes supports risk-taking, courage, and an open-hearted approach to life whose grace cannot be minimized. But no–a metal grate that slams shut the window between one’s self and the influence of others–is rarely celebrated. It’s a hidden power because it is both easily misunderstood and difficult to engage.

10. No One Succeeds In A Silo

It doesn’t matter what we do, where we do it, or how well we create a product or offer a service. We don’t succeed without the right people on our teams. I have come to believe that to survive and ultimately thrive we must effectively create “partnerships” with many around us, from family to colleagues to society in general.

It doesn’t matter how smart or savvy we are when it comes to technology, product development, or any single skill. Nobody succeeds in a silo. Whatever we venture–personal, professional, philanthropic, political, or private–we must remember the people involved in and essential to our success. Learn from our own mistakes and mastery, and learn from the people around us: those we admire now and those we may learn from just by listening. We never know whom we may inspire or influence, or who may inspire and influence us. Today’s stranger may be tomorrow’s partner.

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Serial entrepreneur Faisal Hoque is the founder of Shadoka. He is the author of Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation, and Sustainability (McGraw-Hill) and other books. Use the Everything Connects leadership app for free.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved.

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