Anyone running a small business need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. We need to be aware of what hold us back and all the head trash building that blocks our progress. In this article I share a few stories on entrepreneurs who did not have the right mindset. At the end, I give advice on how to cultivate the right entrepreneurial mindset.
Afraid to return a Phone Call
This was not a bad way to start the week. It was 8.15 am, and I had just settled into the office. I sell construction goods. A contractor had called early and was facing an emergency. He needed products quickly to complete a last-minute project. He was practically begging to transfer the money so I could send him the goods immediately.
Even better, this call came in late January. You can’t get more off-season than January in the construction world. Unexpected orders are blessings to be cherished.
Two hours later, I still had not sent my customer the email with the payment amount. Did stuff get in the way? Was I being interrupted by phone calls?
Until I finally sent the email, I was in a constant state of discomfort. Two hours of fiddling about. Two hours of checking my phone, opening and closing emails, and chit-chatting with my co-workers. Two hours of convincing myself I will get to that email once I have sorted out various other things. Talk about not having an entrepreneurial mindset.
I finally did get round to sending that email. And 30 minutes later, the payment came through. I was in a state of ecstasy. I was feeling elated. I pumped myself up for closing the deal, when in fact, the deal had really been closed with that early morning call. I felt like Mr. Super Productive just because I sent a bloody email after 2 hours of delay tactics.
The example above is how I sometimes self-sabotage my success. And unfortunately, I know many other entrepreneurs who suffer from head trash and are sabotaging their progress daily.
The Gifted Professional who never showed up
I once worked with a subcontractor who was a really gifted and skilled technician. The guy solved problems and left customers glowing in satisfaction. We would have a machine breakdown on site. Chris would be on it and have it back and running in 20 minutes.
Chris would always come up with innovative solutions that no one had thought of. At one point, I considered offering Chris a full-time job.
But Chris was also full of head trash. Even though he was awesome at his job, you never quite knew if he would show up on the given day. One day he had stomach pains; the next, his fiancee had some drama. There was always an excuse why Chris would flake out on the customer and us. In the end, I stopped hiring Chris cause he was leaving me exposed to customers.
Chris would then call some weeks later asking for work as he was out of money. I would haphazardly take him back and offer him a 10 days job. He’d work hard for a few days, wowing and impressing us. Then, sometime around day 6 or 7, he would disappear again because he had some emergency. Chris was a master in creating his own drama.
So how do we deal with Head Trash?
Most business owners that lack the entrepreneurial mindset, refuse to acknowledge that they even have head trash. They always seem to have a rational explanation for everything bad that happens to them.
I know as I was like that myself. There was always a reason why I didn’t get back to the customer immediately, and 9 out of 10 times, the reason made no sense.
So the first step is to be fully aware when your head trash kicks in. Be aware when you might be self-sabotaging yourself. Also, there is no need to be harsh and critical; accept the reality.
Look for the patterns and habits that trigger awkward behavior. For some, it may be scrolling Instagram compulsively when you should, in fact, be working. For others, it may be wanting to get an early drink in for the 3rd time in the week. And for some, head trash may act out in a way you don’t expect. You may be overworking yourself on random tasks just so that you can avoid the most important issue at hand.
So how do we cultivate this awareness?
For me, cultivating awareness begins by giving myself space. Space during the day when I am not in front of a screen, not in front of 5 different people trying to get my attention. Space to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
A great technique to cultivate this is meditation. You do not even have to call it meditation; call it sitting in silence for 20 minutes a day. I don’t even worry about focusing on my breath. I sit there and let all my thoughts flood me.
Another great technique is going on a 30-minute long run and preferably in nature. Somewhere where there are no distractions from traffic and noise. In the spring and summer, I like to drive down to the sea and dive headfirst into the water. Then I chill on the beach for half an hour watching the waves.
Spending just half an hour a day away from everything gives me a bird’ eye view of my life and my business. It gives me enough time for my mind to settle down and re-establish priorities.
Finally, you can always seek out a specialist. I spent many years in therapy, and it’s been one of the investments in my life. Therapy taught me to understand myself and cultivate my self-awareness. Therapy helped me to understand who I am and why I think the way I think.
We all have head trash and we all struggle with the entrepreneurial mindset. We all do things that may sabotage our success. For some, head trash leads to a destructive life and career. While for others, we acknowledge its existence and look for clever ways to circumvent it.
But most importantly, never be harsh on yourself for having head trash. Just accept its existence, laugh at how your mind plays tricks and get on with it.