Yesterday, I had “my worst day”. I mean, not my literal “worst day”, because I totally see that worse could easily happen. And the day wasn’t as bad as the day I realized my business would have to file bankruptcy or as bad as the day I couldn’t make payroll, or as bad as the day I started realizing that losing our house was a very looming threat.
But you know that phrase, “On your worst day…”? It’s a cliche, I guess. We say, “On my worst day, I wouldn’t do that.” Or, in church sometimes I hear a speaker say something like, “God loves us, even on our worst days.”
Each application of the phrase has a different meaning. In the first usage, it’s implied that something bad has happened to you. In the second usage, it’s implied that you’ve done something bad.
Well, yesterday was one of my worst days on both accounts. Bad stuff happened, and I perpetuated the awfulness of the day by diving head-first into the spiral of a bad attitude.
I just needed to get it out of my system. (Excuse?)
I found myself asking, what’s the mindset for dealing with a bad day? There were some answers rolling around in my head, but thanks to my bad attitude, I was no where near attempting to apply them to my life.
But I’ve found the presence of mind to compile them into a list today, so if you’ll allow me to present: X things to do to get yourself out of a funk on your worst day.
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is our first line of defense. Did you know that a lack of sleep can actually cause your brain to experience trauma? No wonder new moms struggle with postpartum (myself included)! Sleep is essential. Without it, I wouldn’t be writing this post!
2. Go for a run.
I wish I was a runner. Sometimes, I pretend I am. Always, I know I need to be. But I hate sweating. That aside, I took to the streets for a job in 100 degree temps yesterday. I needed to sweat out the tears. If running truly isn’t your thing, hit the gym. But release those endorphins, somehow, someway!
3. Have a good cry.
Last night, I wanted to. I didn’t. I fought it off and stormed around the house and probably snapped at David a few times. Crying would have been better.
4. Understand your emotions.
Did you know that under stress, in fear or in hurt, people normally choose one of two responses: tears or anger? Think about that for a minute. The next time you’re angry, ask yourself if you are stressed, afraid, or hurting. The next time you’re crying, ask yourself if you are stress, afraid, or hurting. Tears and angry outbursts are just symptoms of a heart issue. Treat the heart issue instead of putting a band-aid on the symptom.
5. Tell someone.
But be careful who you tell. Not everyone can deal with your pain, and it’s not fair to put it onto the shoulders of someone who is not capable of helping you carry it or work through it. I made an odd choice and decided to tell the internets, in an instagram post. I don’t expect everyone who reads it to understand it, but I needed to get it off my chest. So, thanks, internets. And thank you to all the friends who texted in response. I’m so grateful.
6. Help someone else.
What? When I’m hurting? How does that work? I’m basically just saying, find the encouragement. We all have bad days. Bad, lonely days. If you can help someone on their worst day not feel so bad or lonely, I think we can call that a win. And let’s be honest, we’re looking for wins so we can climb out of this funk, right? Find someone else to encourage, and you’ve started to spiral up.
Maybe I should have led with this one, but it’s hard. I started my morning with prayer today, but only after I first found that good night’s sleep. It’s hard to go straight to asking for help when all you want to do is throw a spiritual tantrum. But I did, this morning. I asked for God to give me words, if there was something He wanted me to say. I asked for relief from our current circumstances. I prayed for wisdom and clarity, energy and blessings.
Maybe, if you’re still feeling like it’s easier to be in tantrum mode than prayer mode, you can steal some of my words and ask for those things. I don’t think God cares where you get the words; I think He cares that you’ve taken the time to ask. It’s a sign of humility, an act of submission, acknowledging that He’s in control and you’re done trying to control it.
And maybe, from His perspective, it wasn’t your worst day. Maybe it was your best day. Maybe all those hard things that happened are laying the groundwork for better things ahead. Maybe He’s got me/us, right where He wants me/us.
My friend Donald Miller has written: Most people try to avoid suffering, but those that accept it as a reality and seek to redeem it live a more meaningful, impactful life.
Taking your worst day, finding the good in it, that’s a redemptive perspective. And THAT is a necessary mindset not just for an entrepreneur, but for a human who wants to thrive.
This post is third in a series on developing the mindset of an entrepreneur:
Last week, over on Instagram, I asked: as an entrepreneur, what’s your biggest challenge? There were a number of responses, every single one of which I related to from personal experience. My biggest surprise in reading them, however, was the lightbulb that came to me in response to the questions: every single challenge was a mindset challenge.
An entrepreneur cannot underestimate the importance and value of the right of the mindset. Let me repeat: mindset is the number one most important thing an entrepreneur needs to keep in check to make their business successful. Of course, under the umbrella of “mindset” there are a number of sub-topics, and I wanted to take some time to write up a series of blog posts, this being the second of the series.
On that note, let’s jump into the next challenge: feeling isolated.
Entrepreneurship can feel, first and foremost, isolating, but after you get past the isolation part of it, the fears and frustrations of being an entrepreneur are strikingly similar, no matter what field you are in.
But entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be lonely, but if you’re just starting out and haven’t found your “entrepreneur tribe” yet, it will definitely feel lonely.
My personal experience with finding my “entrepreneur tribe” began one day when I was sitting at my desk, back when I owned and operated a wholesale stationery business. A woman walked in, having recently read an article in the newspaper about my business. She asked to speak to me, and we went to the conference room and chatted. She asked me what MY biggest challenge as a business owner was, and asked me if that challenge could be eased by having a group of like-minded peers with which to discuss it. I can’t remember how I responded to the question, but her visit turned out to be a (welcome) sales pitch to join a group of female entrepreneurs in Oklahoma City.
In hindsight, it changed my life. I joined the group of women, paid my membership fees, and for ten years, those women became my lifelines. The group evolved and changed over time, but the relationships were always there. Someone was always just one phone call away to brainstorm options and deal with a crisis. We met religiously, once a month, rain or shine, and celebrated many of life’s milestones together: weddings and babies, as well as the losses that life will deal all of us eventually. The only reason I dropped out of the group was that I moved away from OKC, but I’ve kept in touch with many of those women and still consider them to be dear, dear friends.
I know what you’re saying now: “Well, I wish someone would just walk into my office and invite me to be a part of their peer group!” It doesn’t always work that way, I get it. But I’m here to tell you that if you feel isolated as an entrepreneur, there is hope. You can find your “entrepreneur tribe”, you may just have to seek it out. And also, you may find several different tribes that help meet different needs in your business in life, and those tribes might look very different.
Let’s discuss: here are 6 ways to find your entrepreneur tribe and beat those isolation blues.
- Search for a “business forum” in your area. If you’re not familiar with the term “forum”, as used in this context, it’s a term used within the business and entrepreneurship world to reference a group of peers, who usually meet on a regular basis. There is usually a fee to join, and there are many different types of groups. In addition to my women’s group, I was also a member of a national forum group called EO for a while, as was my husband, David. Many cities have local-only forums. I love the structure and organization that comes from forums (and the fees associated with them). Members remain committed, support staff is on hand to help with membership, and the rules and guidelines help keep meetings from being gripe sessions—progress is always made, and I always walk away feeling like I’ve both learned something, and provided value for my peers.
- Put yourself out there—ask for recommendations online. This might sound simple, but I just don’t think you can underestimate the value of a blog post or social media post asking for help. Don’t overthink it. Something as simple as, “hey, I’m looking for some entrepreneur meet-ups in my area—know anyone?” might get you a few leads.
- Start your own “forum”. If you’re looking for something specific—a niche industry, for example—you might consider starting your own forum. Even though it’s nice to do things for free, however, I would recommend having a small fee, for two reasons: 1) it makes sure people are serious and stay committed and 2) it helps offset any administrative costs you might incur, like a website, or even the time to organize events or meetings.
- Be prepared to invest financially. You’ll get out of the group what you put into it, and this means dollars as well. In your search for a business networking group or peer-to-peer forum, you may find fees ranging from a few hundred dollars per year to several thousand. I realize not everyone has several thousand dollars with which to buy an “entrepreneur tribe”, but here’s the thing: I believe, one day, you will. And I would recommend being prepared to spend that money when you have it—it’s worth it’s weight in gold.
- Be prepared to invest emotionally. Did your mom every tell you that “to have a friend, you must be a friend”? I think the same philosophy applies here, and is possibly the number one most important factor in preventing isolation: develop an abundance mindset and start giving back. One of my favorite business reads of all time is Give and Take by Adam Grant. He presents a strong argument for “strategic giving”: “You never know where somebody’s going to end up. It’s not just about building your reputation; it really is about being there for other people.” I can’t think of a better way to find community than to give to it. Very simply, just share. Help others. Help locally, and help online. Share info, tips, say hi, have a conversation. Pay compliments, cheer on other entrepreneurs. It’s only lonely at the top if you make competition on the way up. Make friends, instead.
- Final tip: don’t wait for the isolation to hit. I get questions all the time about resources for entrepreneurs and places where they can find community, motivation, and inspiration. It was in this vein that I started the HEART Goals group over on Facebook! I’d love to have you join us there and start beating that entrepreneur isolation today!
And of course, another great way to find community in entrepreneurship would be to join us at Mastermind Intensive this coming September 12-14th, 2018!
And that, my friends, concludes my list of recommendations on how to beat loneliness and isolation in entrepreneurship. What tips would you say have worked for you?
This post is the second in a series on developing the mindset of a successful entrepreneur. For the complete series:
And that leads me to my first post: entrepreneurs need to develop the mindset of a bias for action.
Just go. Get on a plane/train/automobile and go.
Go ugly early. Done is better than perfect.
Develop a bias for action. Stop overthinking it.
Just go. What do I mean by this, and how does it look like when applied to life? What I’m about to tell you isn’t going to make sense. It’s going to seem so counter-intuitive, but it is the number one piece of advice I tell entrepreneurs: just get on a plane and go. Or, if you can’t afford to fly, drive. I don’t know what it is about being in a different environment that really moves the needle for entrepreneurs, but I feel like going to conferences, conventions, trade shows, as an attendee and an exhibitor, going to retreats and intentsives—has changed my life—and if I want my life to be changed, this is the first step I take. I find a workshop or conference and I go and meet new people and learn new things and allow my mindset to expand and change. I can rarely put my finger on a major lightbulb moment, but I always come back with what I call “nuggets” and a little bit of “network”. I never go to network—but it has organically happened in my life. Relationships have been built and I feel like “going” is a major step in the evolution of my entrepreneurial career.
Go ugly early. I’ve blogged about this before, probably several times. It falls into the same category of “going”, but is a different application. It’s all about launching. Finding the minimum viable product, and releasing it into the world. Creating progress through iteration, providing transparency to the process that creates a valuable trust for audiences and customers. It’s about not over-thinking and not-overanalyzing and stop waiting for perfect. It’s about done is better than perfect, the timing will never be just right, and you can’t plan the perfect moment. It’s better to take the risk and release something—transparently—early, than hold yourself and your business back (potentially, for years), but trying to strategize for the perfect moment.
Develop a bias for action. This is a phrase I’ve been focusing on intently for the past few weeks. It’s become a mantra in my head, a response to the excuses I’m making for myself. It comes from a list of principles Amazon has adopted for their employees. The heart of the phrase is this: very few decisions are permanently irreversible. It will cost you more to NOT DO something than it will to UNDO something. You will benefit more from taking action than you will by not acting at all. And added to this is the simple fact that calculated risk-taking will always yield more progress and results than not taking action. I look for this characteristic in hires: do they have good judgment, and will they choose action over inaction?
This post is the first in a series on developing the mindset of an entrepreneur: