The entrepreneurial journey is a dizzying ride of ups and downs, progress and setbacks, and countless winding detours. In the midst of fundraising rounds, product launches, hiring and managing staff, marketing campaigns, and making sure the lights stay on, the nagging feeling that you are not really in control will creep in. One day you’ll feel like you are on top of your game. The next day you’ll be wondering if you should throw in the towel.
It happens to everyone.
The internal emotional challenges you face when launching a business are the hardest part of the journey. The feelings of anxiety, indecision, depression, and despair that bubble up may catch you off guard – especially if you considered yourself to be a confident and self-aware person before being bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.
How you handle these inner struggles of entrepreneurship will largely determine how you handle the external ones. Bestselling author, entrepreneur, and marketer, Neil Patel once revealed that he was able to transform a personal string of costly business mistakes into valuable lessons – ones that led to his later successes in life. Many other highly successful people, like James Altucher, Martha Stewart, and Peter Thiel, have faced career-ending flops and failures and managed to swim back to the surface.
What’s their secret?
People will instinctively try to do damage control on a situation that has gotten out of hand. But while trying to control outcomes, the behavior of others or even your own flood of distressful emotions may look nice on paper, it doesn’t always work in practice.
The secret to riding out the challenges of entrepreneurship with real emotional resilience and success is the ability to use your mind to tap into your innate power.
The difference between control and power
In the 1950s, American psychologist Julian Rotter developed a concept called the locus of control. Locus of control refers to how strongly people think that they, as opposed to external forces, have control over the situations and experiences that affect their lives.
Those with an internal locus of control, says Rotter, describe individuals who believe that they can act to change their own circumstances in life to achieve desirable outcomes. Success is thus a result of a person’s own efforts and abilities. On the other hand, those with an external locus of control believe that most of their life conditions are determined by forces that they have no power to influence or change. They are simply victims of their circumstances.
While the concept of locus of control may shed some light on the human psyche, it’s at the same time narrow in scope.
We can’t possibly control everything and everyone in our lives. Going into any situation expecting to be in total control means you have already lost the battle before you have begun.
This is the mistake that many entrepreneurs make. They try too hard to manage, regulate, and direct all aspects of their business: their operations, their staff, their business partners, and even their customers. When their plans fall through and that sense of control slips out of their hands, this is when unwanted distress, anxiety, and confusion rise up. They are then not even in control of themselves.
Instead of control, we need to think in terms of power. Whereas control is limited by our ability to exert it, our power to impact ourselves and our environment extends beyond many of those limitations.
Unleashing the power within
Our inner power results from our awareness and acceptance of our unique strengths and weaknesses, abilities, impact, and purpose in life. It requires that we seek honest feedback from people we can trust. We need to build up the courage to stop ruminating over the past and to start acting for the future. Our sense of power also comes together with the recognition that others around us have this inner dimension, too – whether or not they’re in touch with it.
When you can direct your mind to tap into your innate power there’s no need to always be in control. You are in your zone, and that fact alone will have an impact. You don’t have to force anyone to do anything. You don’t have to work too hard to win over or convince. Things don’t always have to go as planned.
Our inner power is what gives us the ability to see things objectively, set healthy boundaries, own up to our mistakes, take calculated risks, and much more. We are empowered to climb the ladder of success. Even if we fall flat on our face, we can pick ourselves up and grab at the rungs again. Mistakes thus become opportunities for future success, while obstacles turn into wellsprings of creativity and innovation.
Getting in touch with our inner power can be the gateway to business opportunity, innovation, happiness, and well-being. In the end, we essentially create the environment we wanted all along. We can open our own doors to opportunity, and we can achieve some level of stability in an unstable world.