By Isaac Maloba
What kills great entrepreneurship dreams?
May be it is not too late to save yours…
Most entrepreneurs start well but many end with frustrating business results. They are largely victims of self sabotage - which is the essence of this article. There are, no doubt, several other reasons that deserve mention when examining flawed business individuals but self sabotage claims bearing on most of them. An entrepreneur who ardently fights self sabotage virtually prevents the occurring of over 80% of the factors that hinder entrepreneurial success. Surviving self sabotage calls for the activation of key attributes latent within most entrepreneurs.
Self sabotage implies conduct that makes it difficult or even impossible to achieve one’s purpose. It resonates with the analogy of struggling to reach west while moving east; when your intentions or goals are pointing in one direction while your behavior and choices points in another. Nothing compromises the speed and thwarts the possibilities of attaining a great entrepreneurial goal like self sabotage. It turns one into their own worst enemy. How many business people today hold good motives and strategies yet constantly stumble in self destructive practices - unawares? Practices which literary put their aims in greater difficulty to achieve than before. Like addiction binds one to the drug of their own slow death, self sabotage binds a person on the tether on their own entrepreneurial defeat. The sad bit is that it is usually the last thing to receive mention during business performance assessments.
One of the greatest faculties that drive top personal effectiveness in business and private life is focus. Like light displaces darkness, focus displaces self sabotage. Focus is the constant discipline of one’s thoughts, passions and actions to obey and serve a particular purpose. To the person of focus; there is no turning to the right nor to the left; no dreaming away time, nor building air-castles; but one look and purpose, forward, upward and onward, straight to his goal. There is no substitute to focus. The ability to identify and sustain attention toward a great aim. It is the pillar upon which all other lessons in personal development and business profitability gain bearing. Focus sharpens all other human faculties and makes them ready and available for maximum utility.
Most entrepreneurs begin with high dreams and lofty ambitions; they know what they want to get. However, the bigger challenge is: they don’t know what to sacrifice. That alone does not only stunt their clarity but compromises their choices. They find themselves making (or not making) critical decisions which affect the tempo and direction of their enterprises.
One sure fact is that whatever choice one makes, there have to be sacrifices. Some sacrifices in the long run may seem more costly and painful than earlier anticipated. It could be changing friends, jobs, dressing code, spending priorities, location, hobbies or even personality… from the familiar to a completely unfamiliar territory. In such hard moments, one’s intensity of focus is tried; despair sets in and thousands of great entrepreneurs are persuaded to succumb to the different pressures, they draw back to the old ineffective patterns, they opt for the easier ways out and resort to flow along paths of less resistance and before they know it, their focus has been drifting bit by bit from their earlier goal. Their dreams are changed or killed by their stubbornness of not wanting to pay the price or make the sacrifice needed to nurture the dream. However, one should never lose the focus and solid believe that their entrepreneurial dream or the eventual achievement will definitely be worth more than sacrifices made along the way. To strengthen focus and displace self sabotage to this end, consider these five tips;
- Make a worthwhile choice that you are ready to sacrifice for. Like the classical writer, Goethe, taught “The most important thing in life is to have a great aim and to possess the aptitude and perseverance to attain it”. Whatever business, course of study, professional competence or line of life that you choose to dedicate your time, money and effort to, let it be worth the trouble. This is the first step to building focus – attaching it to an end result. Strengthen your focus by solidifying the conviction within (convincing yourself) that you have within you (and you are ready to put in) what it takes to achieve your aim.
- List the things that you have to acquire to accelerate the speed to your attainment. Reflect upon the price you will have to pay and be in harmony with the sacrifice. The model precedes the statue. If the model is erect, the statue cannot be stooped. Find out what knowledge, attitudes and skills you critically need to attain your targets … and embark on a self improvement program to master them.
- Identify the things that you have to let go. Michael Angelo had to endure long spells of a solitary life to create for himself chunks of uninterrupted time for reflection and creativity. “Why do you live such a solitary life,” asked a friend of Michael Angelo. “Art is a jealousy mistress,” answered the artist, “she requires the whole man.” What will you have to deliberately live without in order to give more of you to your goal? Byron always said that there was simply no way a person could claim the right of a giant while living a pygmy’s life style. The reason you probably didn’t attain your aim earlier is because your old self had errors and omissions (in knowledge, skills and attitudes). Choose to give up whatever sabotages the attainment of something you regard very important to you.
- Appreciate the journey as you await your destination. When the grand aim delays to arrive, resist the temptation of despising the small improvements made along the way. Most worthy targets take a while to come because of the turns and twists of each trade; it may take hours, days, weeks, months or even years but the most important thing in reserving a high intensity of focus is ‘counting your blessings’. Each passing day should make you a better person, move you a step closer and testify that you are steadily progressing. Once you develop the habit of treating each small improvement as an achievement, you will fill your mind with a core memory of mini achievements. This will increase your excitement, motivation and endurance toward your bigger goal…no matter the hardships.
- Know what to ignore. Focusing on many things at the same time divides attention and weakens concentration. Most people know what path to take but few people know what to ignore along the way. Letting every news, rumor, bad emotion, argument or fear suck your attention will definitely weaken your focus. Like one great thinker observed; to kill a person’s goal, just give them another. The moment focus shifts, your resources and passion will shift as well. Distractions are like clouds and fog, it is only a martial faculty of focus that can penetrate them straight. Decide that whatever doesn’t move you toward your aim is not worthy dedicating much of your time, money and energy on.
Like one selects different foods from a buffet, one needs to deliberately acquire or reject different personal and professional attributes along the path of business development. The food not chosen is not bad per se but it may not fit one’s health aspirations or could be utterly repulsive to one’s constructed sense of taste. Know what qualities to let go for the good of your entrepreneurial dreams. Food is to man what character is to a goal. Just as most people dig their graves using their teeth, many people sabotage their own purposes by way of their conduct. Most food experts say ‘you are what you eat’ while philosophers say ‘your performance can not rise above the quality of your character’.
Isaac Maloba is a Human Resource consultant and Chief Administrator at Potential Management Centre ( POTMAC)
As a rule, focus and self discipline must be deliberately developed in the fabric of one’s character if they are to succeed in the affairs of business and human relations.