It’s something many entrepreneurs have mixed up, and that is the notion that you’re a born entrepreneur.
Make no mistake, in many ways you are! But there’s sometimes the expectation of ourselves that we’re supposed to be automatically knowledgeable on everything required to rise up and run a growing, successful business.
More than that, entrepreneurs particularly operate devoid of the huge supporting environment those in corporate employment take for granted.
That’s not about the office copier or cafetaria－it runs a lot deeper than that. Entrepreneurs have the tenacity to go up against established business, or chisel out and define new avenues for business. And unlike the corporate team, with entrepreneurs success or failure hinges on one person－you.
Entrepreneurs know this－it’s a part of that tenacity, that belief in yourself that will make a success of your business－but so many live without any kind of developmental feedback or support loop.
A great many individuals in business immediately turn inwards to decipher and deal with daily or especially new issues, looking to draw from a well they never actually replenish or deepen.
What self-development really means for entrepreneurs
When we think of developing ourselves, we tend to think of an MBA, an Excel course, acquiring specialist expertise, or even financial management training. The real growth for entrepreneurs who operate so frequently as standalone CEOs, however, lies in congregation.
Imagining congregating with like-minded business owners might seem a “soft” indulgence when compared to certification in Financial Modelling, as an example, but that’s actually putting the cart before the horse.
As Mike Adams of the Indianapolis Colts says of his yoga practice: “I don’t believe that yoga is unpopular. I just think that players are uninformed about the many benefits that yoga can provide.”
Similarly, a great many entrepreneurs who have never sought to develop themselves in communion with other entrepreneurs, remain convinced that a certain qualification or a certain asset is the best thing they can bring to their business.
In fact, the one thing every business needs most, is development of the human who’s running the show, and that doesn’t start with certification.
People being the gregarious, communal beings that we are, it’s no surprise that getting together and discussing business issues has such a profound effect on personal and professional development. It’s not an indulgence and it’s even less lost time.
Meeting to discuss professional operations with other professional operators, is time smartly spent, and frequently gives the highest ROI.
How? Well, for one thing, it brings a sense of surety and belonging, both critical components of self-confidence. Point to an entrepreneur who lacks self-confidence, and you’ll be pointing to a species yet to be discovered!
An abiding confidence is innate to the entrepreneurial mindset, no matter your operational level of constant minor panic and self-doubt at times. Building that surety constructively while learning all the way is the best kind of boost your confidence can get.
Time spent sharing business issues with others who face the same challenges isn’t time wasted. On the contrary, it’s the most essential use of your time as an entrepreneur, because it doesn’t require a lot of hours, and the mental well-being (and ensuing business performance) that results from communion with others like you, can in fact result in the most dramatic uptick in profitability anything can give you.
Entrepreneurial straight talk
He was talking about developing yourself, and any notions of that being some namby-pamby pursuit should evaporate when you look at the man’s personal worth.
“Ultimately, there’s one investment that supersedes all others－invest in yourself!” said Buffett. “Nobody can take away what you’ve got in yourself, and everybody has potential they haven’t used yet.”
Just as yoga might seem an odd contributor to professional football for many wannabe pro players, so too many entrepreneurs get stuck on the notion of actively developing themselves within a group environment.
Partly masked by the determination required of entrepreneurs in forging their own destinies, and partly just poor information distribution, the notions around how to develop yourself as an entrepreneur need to be sorted and clarified.
Solitude is healing, it’s true, but there’s a limit as to how much you can grow as a business professional when you go it alone. Human growth happens in a group environment. That’s just how we’re wired, and thank goodness we are, because it opens up a vast landscape of potential growth for the entrepreneur.
What are the benefits of professional fraternity?
Why is professional communion so essential to reach the top of your game? Think about what these four points below evoke in you, and the picture will become clearer.
- Stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s lousy, it’s, well, uncomfortable. In short, it sucks, but when we are bold enough to consciously step out of our operational comfort zone, we’re rewarded with new acumen, new skills, and sometimes even new business. You’ve reached a certain level of maturity when you know that in turning to face your demons, you realize they’re only half as big as you thought they were. The battle is half won already, and you will win it, you can see now. It’s what the Wild West would have called “try”, as in, “He’s got a lotta try,” talking about the bull rider who gets up and gets back on. It’s guts, tenacity, that’s what it looks like－exiting your comfort zone.
- Optimizing your self-awareness. Rather than sitting alone at times, mentally berating yourself for mistakes or perceived shortcomings (a harsh inner critic most entrepreneurs have to learn to silence), group participation creates an enabling environment where those issues can be productively resolved. That’s an important one, because while we might slap ourselves on the back for being aware of issues we’d like to address, that’s not the same as addressing them! Joining with others with that aim gives you the opportunity to take an honest look at the areas of your life that you want to improve. It’s what provides substance to aspiration, it’s productive.
- Allowing you to achieve and feel great. That’s right. So much literature abounds on how to manage stress and live a successful, upbeat life, when the common practice of professional fraternity provides mountains of that architecture. It was Fred Rogers who said “In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” What do you want to do in your arena, how will you define your participation in your chosen field? Those are actually deep questions, because they concern how you spend your time, which is indicative of how you value your time. Very few things make you feel as whole as a human being, as simply engaging others in fraternity to spend some time pondering your issues. Very few things. That’s simply how we’re wired.
- Developing your strengths. It was J Krishnamurti who said that even a hermit is only a hermit in relation to the rest of us. Everyone is related along myriad pathways to one another, especially in business. Since that’s really the core of business－people needing things from other people－it makes complete sense to optimize interrelationship, especially when it comes with professional counsel. New tech tools can bedazzle, and business really is morphing in the digital era, but that tool still blows them all away. And not for the sake of nostalgia, but on cold, hard business metrics. Buy all the digital gadgets you want, but nothing beats being confident about your participation in business, which is exactly what fraternity gives. Confidence sells, it makes money, because it has legitimacy. Clients know it, they feel it.
A man with a steely gaze once said…
The journey of self-discovery and professional betterment is an ongoing process, which is why fraternity has a frequency.
Those in corporate enjoy Harvard Business School courses and other institutionalized training, as well as the constant opportunity to hang out with like-minded peers as they gain further expertise. What have you got? What do entrepreneurs have that can allow them to compete against that kind of formalized training regime?
Developing yourself in a corporate setting means things are mapped out for you, pretty much, and you can avail yourself of ongoing betterment in your professional discipline. In contrast, entrepreneurs have a tough time choosing what’s relevant, where they should invest in their own development.
Well, the most important thing (and the route to finding out), is getting together with other professionals running a business too.
In our status-driven environment, we sometimes assume that bosses take time out to investigate things because they can. It’s a luxury afforded the boss. In fact, most entrepreneurs have to discipline themselves to get away from the business, because it feels indulgent. They feel guilty.
That’s just upside down, because you need to develop yourself as you would any other component of your business.
Except you’re not just like everything else. Your development can have huge ramifications－positive ones－for the business.
You have to take the time to develop yourself as a lynchpin of operations, even when you seem at the top of your game, especially then. The top can always go higher!
It was Clint Eastwood in one of his famous Dirty Harry movies who said: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
Mastermind succeeds because we start from the point of acknowledging that we can improve, and having the savvy to seek out the shortest route to professional growth.
We can help each other improve. In fact, there’s precious little a group of dynamic professionals can’t resolve when they meet. If you don’t know your whole environment including your limitations, how will you ever eliminate them?
Smart, successful people are happy to share, because they know the value of other qualified opinions. Indeed, this happens all the time in the corporate arena, where consultants come in and contribute to success.
That’s the formalized route. For entrepreneurs, Mastermind is the equivalent－the realm of entrepreneurial development, and the shortest, most cost-effective route to the greatest dividends you can collect.
We’re an open secret. Join us, and invest in the one thing most crucial to your business success－you.
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