ENTREPRENEURSHIP: 4 Mindsets to Miracle Work
Learning-Curve: Four Mindsets to Miracle Work
During our 2016 “friendsgiving” that my wife Allie and I attended at the home of one of my closest friends and best man at my wedding, Brenton Garrett, and his wife Robin, the four of us discussed some of the ins and outs of the American working class. Subsequently Brent navigated back in history to tell the story of how the modern-day “nine to five” workweek was conceptualized from the feudal system onward.
It was definitely a dope vault of knowledge to unlock. I eventually interjected that this particular era in time was a goldmine for young adults in our age range of college grads to find freedom and a renewed sense of self-worth in being one’s own boss with nothing more than a laptop and an internet connection, and a functional mind. I suppose though, now that I think it through, that’s only all it takes to start something. It takes much more to finish something though, huh?
As an artist, I’m extremely visual; unfortunately I’m also a perfectionist. I used to hate rough drafts—I always enjoyed getting it right the first time, or not doing it at all. I eventually learned that bypassing practice, and thus avoiding failure, almost never produced growth in any skill or form of education. I’m still learning this entrepreneur crap! I’m doing nothing more, at this point in time, than following the lead of entrepreneurs who’ve done this already and blazed the trail we all wish we were on (some of us may already be).
I’m reading books about where to go and how to get there. I’m reading blogs about time management, energy management, and how to shift my own mindset to get out of my own way. I want to share with you what I’ve learned on this journey so far, so here are a few mental tips, for starting and sticking with the ambitious game plan of being your own boss. First, we want to decide what we want (not what we need). Secondly, we want to commit to a lifetime of learning (not just teaching or coaching). Tertiarily, we want to be real with ourselves about our strengths, limitations, and habits (and create a schedule on that knowledge). Finally, we want to reset our general mindset about who we are in this adventure of entrepreneurship. It all starts with the mind!
1) Decide what you want first, NOT what you need.
For those of y’all who aren’t working but are ready to start your personal journey:
If you’re like me, you probably did this backwards too homie. So let’s backtrack a bit. The “needs” of life are often much easier to write down on paper or even conjure mentally without risk of forgetting. Most of us operate because of our foundational standards of living, and base our expenses on (and set our budgets accordingly to) the things around us. And yet, when it comes to entrepreneurship, I’ve personally discovered that being your own boss is not set up, at least in its earliest incarnation, to supply your needs. These needs are hyper-foundational and most of us are raised to develop the mindset that achieving these needs is standard, and for the most part they are indeed: money (streams of revenue, returns on investments), insurance (monetary access to health or dental care, even mental or other types of care), and routine (safety, preparedness, consistency).
I’m sure you could add more to that list but generally speaking we would all enjoy these things to some a relatable degree. There is nothing wrong with striving for these things, let alone achieving them, and I will never bash a man or woman who wants the nine-to-five dream of moving up in management and retiring with a sexy penchant (get yours, fam!) However, for folks like you and I who are attempting to listen to the beat of a different drummer, we need to have faith that these things will come after the fact. The safe and cautious need to learn to take a faith-walk like Indiana Jones on his way to the Holy Grail, because the money and benefits will almost never come first...but they will come.
Reset your thinking from what do you need, to what do you want? Maybe you want to put your product out just so you can build a fanbase and get familiar with other men and women who are skilled in the same art you are. Think about indie artists who put out high-quality free mixtapes; the returns on investments made are not necessarily monetary, rather not initially. Maybe you care about the struggles that people are undergoing, perhaps the ones that folks are scared to really talk about, and have the unbridled desire to walk with them--even if they are countries away—as a life coach.
Success and desire don’t always go hand-in-hand, and I thoroughly believe the reason for that is because often, we ourselves fail to make it so, but secretly expect it to come anyway. We change this by putting what we want (change, exposure, travel, access to community) before what we need (money, insurance, security). Homies and homegirls, any young or old entrepreneur will tell you, this takes creativity. It takes bravery. Expect to be laughed at, talked down, and thought of as less for not wanting to restrain yourselves to a system that you know doesn’t work for you. Don’t play yourself for money, let alone acceptance.
For those of y’all who are in a nine-to-five right now and looking to get onto the entrepreneurial bandwagon (like me!):
In between working the forty-hour average in my cubicle at my state job, being a father at home, and working on my mixtape as the emcee Frozenray, I’m working on SuperTangent. I’m making connections, asking questions, writing a whole lot, and reading even more than that. But my job as an office assistant for the State is time-consuming and draining. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for this job, as it came at a time when my family and I needed the most. I've been obsessed with making sure my family has access to healthcare, and not only have I never had a job with insurance before this one, I would be hard-pressed to find a full-time job that provides better insurance than what we make as state employees. It's an incredible insurance plan for my entire family. But, I’m locked in the "golden handcuffs".
The golden handcuffs can be described as the benefits and allurement that entice an employee of a company to stay employed with that company, regardless of how beneficial it would ultimately be to leave. Case in point, if I leave my current place of employment, my family and I will lose our insurance, and will likely never find such an affordable plan ever again. It's frightening for a man whose responsibility to is to protect, provide for, and look after his family into health, prosperity, and security to give that up. You might be exactly where I am about the matter, and these thoughts and fears are justified and reasonable. So let me tell you the mindset that I'm digging into right now in order to break that mental fear before moving on.
Firstly, accept the benefits of staying. Know, and come to terms with, what you have to lose, so that you can make a very wise decision about when it's time to leave, not necessarily if. Secondly, and more importantly, consider the future. We get so caught up in what we might lose that we hardly bother to see what we have to gain by letting it go. Once we accept what we have to lose, we don't need to dwell on it anymore because it is very much stealing away time from our dreams, and time is one precious commodity we will not get back. We're conditioned to think we can't have benefits, build wealth, or even have small success by doing something different than what the rest of our peers are doing, especially post-college. That's madness, my dude! So accept what you have to lose, and focus on the future so that, instead of worrying about what you (and your family) will be losing, you can focus on what you (and your family) will be gaining.
2) Prepare yourself for the long-haul of learning.
This might be the most difficult mindset to adjust to, because its exigencies include daily repetition and a strong sense of insight. As said in the aforementioned bullet, the future has to be in focus. Whether we fully understand its implications or not, what we’re all aiming for is long-term success. Long-term success doesn’t happen on the Mario Kart shortcut, sadly. It’s daily work, weekly scheduling, monthly budgeting, etc. But other than just the output of work produced, what’s just as important if not more is the input of learning received. Mentally understanding this is crucial to surviving the long-haul, and it’s best to understand that at the very beginning.
The drive to start something is easy to find, as I’ve mentioned before—but what does it take to finish something? It takes practice and precious time spent, but it also takes a mind open to learning consistently. We’ll never know it all, nor should we ever pretend to know it all. A true teacher never stops learning, and there is literally nothing to lose in taking the appropriate courses or finding the right mentors to enhance your skill set. The investment is time, and the return is a combination of old skills enhanced and new skills discovered...which leads to wisdom and revenue. You’re on the road to becoming a master in your own right.
The very idea of learning takes a variety of positive routes. Believing that there is always more skill to gain, for example, is a great catalyst of humility, one of the greatest traits of humankind, specifically in the realm of leadership. When it’s time to hire a virtual assistant, or time to outsource that graphic design workload you need done to a virtual assistant, you may be hard-pressed to find a willing subordinate who will do the required social media management or vector logos for you if your attitude isn’t correct. If you are a virtual assistant, ask yourself would you really be happy working for somebody who doesn't approach you with respect? If I believe that “attitude is everything, then I need to do everything possible to adjust and readjust my attitude so that it is optimized for maximum efficiency not just in work, but in life. The two strongly influence one another!
So forever be willing to learn. We’ll never know it all, and that should be some of the most exciting news you’ll receive as you begin your journey to being your own boss. Read new books, study new methods, enhance old skills, and learn new ones. It will strengthen you, humble you, and make you a better boss than the next.
3) Know your physical and mental limits and set a schedule.
“Don’t overdo it.” I share this sharp Gundam Wing quote with my wife Allie constantly, as she has shown a tendency early on to work herself to death, supplying her clients with everything they need to a degree that stretches far beyond satisfactory expectations, but often forgetting to recharge herself. She thrives on reaching the destination, not necessarily riding the journey to get there. But I’m proud of her for how much better she has become at self-care practices. Thankfully, when she starts to slip up, I can talk her back on track with her own health because whether she likes it or not, I know how she operates.
We have to do the same thing with ourselves. We have to take the time to get to know ourselves. Compartmentalize who you are today: are you a morning person? Set yourself up for breakfast each morning. Do you meditate? Statistics don’t lie: studies have shown the clear benefits of self-reflection and mental relaxation, so mix that in with breakfast. Spend time with God and yourself. Eat heartily and, if feasible, healthily! Be sure to give yourself enough time to sleep at night so that you can wake up early in the morning and do it all again!
There’s nothing wrong with routine—it’s something you may or may not have missed at your old nine-to-five, but before you know it, with the inner drive, you’ll get that routine back and, subsequently, the security that comes with it. In addition, you’ll receive renewed self-value of creating your own schedule and thus taking matters into your own hands.
A lot of people don't like that word. What does it connote to you? Stress? Rigidity? So much for wiggle-room and setting your own hours, right? Well not really. You are setting your own hours. Setting a schedule is part of self-care; once you can mentally track yourself down--your habits and hobbies, the catalysts of your organic and artificial energies, where and around whom you function best--set the hours that work for you and leave work on the laptop for the remainder of the week. Meditation, breakfast, coffee and Bible time or however you spend your morning, you have to schedule it for the most part. The reason you need a routine of some sort is so that you can be reliable: reliable to yourself as you work toward your own goals, reliable to your fanbase as they eagerly await your next blog post, podcast or iTunes chart-topper, and reliable to your clients who very much rely on your ability to deliver skill and produce results within a time-frame of their choosing.
A schedule will only better your time management skills. Being your own boss doesn't mean you no longer have a schedule of any kind. It just means that, now, you're the one in control of it. Be empowered in this. Believe it, speak it into reality, and burn it into your strange little minds. Knowing yourself, and setting a schedule, are absolutely key. Use your beautiful brain and get into the mindset and eventual habit of planning ahead for success. My father always used to say: "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail."
4) Reset yourself. We’re no longer lackeys: we’re leaders.
When I say "reset yourself", what I mean is that we need to recondition the way we think about our position in the world. We don't have to be mystical and unrealistically optimistic about it, either. We need to just believe it. Now, let's keep it real, perhaps if an non-observant stranger stumbles upon your entrepreneur Facebook group they may only see a bunch of hyper-intelligent white girls who preach pro-feminism and make more money than their boyfriends and husbands.
But, uh, we know better. We all come from different nationalities, different races; different religions and different generations; went to different colleges, or simply decided not to go. We were raised with different concepts about money, some even with the seed planted in our heads that having money is wrong. We’re very different, and that’s a good thing, and we--women, men, black, white, older, younger--have worked tooth and nail, failed hard and succeeded even harder, to get to where we are.
So give yourselves a serious round of applause. You're more than a boss. You're a leader. Is that so hard to believe?
Appreciate yourself. It's time to get out of that mom funk and eat breakfast, take a shower, and get yourself dressed simply for the day. Us men have no excuse; wear that button-up you hate so much that bae bought you and feel the freshness resonate. Take time out of the day to play with your children, or take yourself out on a date. Spend some cash from that miscellaneous section in your budget on something fun or tasty, or simply interact with people who get you. Understand that, although it is no excuse to behave irresponsibly with it, money comes and goes. Time is a much more valuable commodity in life. So spend it on the right things, on the right thoughts, and be an example for those who are watching what you do. You are a leader now. Not a black sheep; not a weirdo; not a joke. A leader. I can't stress this enough.
You can't do it if you don't genuinely think it. Why give your own skills doubt, why second guess your ability to be successful? Because this blogger or that podcast is raking in the cake and you're still trying to figure out how to pay for the right equipment to set up shop? Stop that. It's that sort of timidity that keeps geniuses and their gifts to the world trapped in the grave forever. Be prepared to fail, and laugh about it. Be proud about it. After all, most people don’t even try.
Combine humility and confidence. Now that is dangerous. Don't you want to be dangerous? Don't you want to be so driven to succeed that the prospect of failure, or even failure itself, has no power over you? Don't you want to make such a change in your life that you no longer have to base your value on the acceptance of others but rather at the satisfaction of your own work, your own life, and your own ability to be joyful? We must think differently, love ourselves, and settle in for the long-haul.
What do you think about these things? Feel free to agree, disagree, or add to this list as you see fit. I want to know your thoughts, boss family.