thoughts a day and 70% to 80% of those are negative. This translates into 40,000
negative thoughts a day that need managing and filtering — no small task for any
person or entrepreneur. Based on these numbers, I have had at least 14.5 million
negative thoughts since I launched Countlan but thankfully, I have a few coping
mechanisms to prevent me from giving up or breaking down.
In addition to building a valuable product, an inventive marketing strategy,
a strategic pricing plan and a sound distribution network, there is a
psychological component to launching a startup. Even the most confident
individuals fall prey to negative, judgmental, irrational, fear-based thoughts
that challenge their actions and poke holes in their plans.
Take heed young bootstrappers! Negative thinking need not be your demise;
rather, garnering a few tactics can help you plow through the lowest days.
Here are my three tactics:
Popping bubbles: Six years ago, a yoga instructor shared a philosophy
called mindfulness. The philosophy observes and acknowledges negative thoughts,
and helps you recognize them without succumbing to their destructive nature.
Patanjali, wrote the Yoga Sutra more than 1,700 years ago to calm
the fluctuations of the mind. Mind fluctuations occur when you super-size a
negative thought to become larger than life.
Take this negative thought: “My business idea is crazy and it will never
work.” Instead of acknowledging and moving on, we follow it until it becomes a
rumination and undermines our judgement. Our original negative thought then
expands to “What if I fail? I won’t make any money, then I won’t be able to go
out for dinner as often with my friends, maybe my friends will be ashamed of me,
I didn’t succeed in what I set out to do, worse-what if nobody likes my product?
The embarrassment will kill me.”
I have taken this philosophy a step further: I now acknowledge negative
thoughts and then pop them like bubbles. Once popped, I move on to something
Musical theatre/arts analogy (MTAA): I use this tactic to remind
myself I am not the only one struggling to achieve a goal with the odds stacked
against you. When I was young, I loved performing on stage. So when negative
thoughts arise, I draw upon my experience in musical theatre to refocus. I think
back to the competitiveness of auditions, how many hours of practice it takes to
cultivate talent at a professional level and how the odds are stacked against
success in the arts.
It bears a striking resemblance to the 10% survival rate of startups. The
lessons to keep trying when you get knocked down, to keep practicing and staying
passionate about your craft and to surround yourself with supportive social
networks are transferable when launching a startup.
I take solace in the MTAA analogy when the volume of negative judgmental
thoughts reaches unavoidable decibels. If you need a mental boost, watch any of
the following documentaries and you will be caught up in the wave of enthusiasm
displayed by the people in these films in their pursuit of success: Fame High, Every Little Step, Mad
Hot Ballroom and Brooklyn Castle.
Hobby/commitment: I love yoga and cooking and have incorporated both
into my life for many years. They are unrelated to my business and let me find
enjoyment in life. I started practicing yoga 10 years ago when I had no
flexibility and couldn’t touch my toes. My fingers were at my knees and my hands
were nowhere near the floor. I gained more flexibility and two fingers reached
the ground. Finally, my muscles relaxed and much to my amazement I was able to
put 10 fingers on the mat.
In all three techniques, the process is about not getting caught up in
negative thoughts, not being judgmental, knowing you are not alone in pursuing
challenging goals. It is also about using your own techniques to get to a good
place that allows you to keep moving forward.
Source: www.FinancialPost.com Written by: Sarah Lambersky
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