The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma:

QuestionI’m a health care professional and entrepreneur and from time to time I find myself in a rut, questioning my abilities, if I’m doing the right thing, should I do something else…I have a couple of what I think are great personal and career opportunities at the moment, and I want to know what the best way is to stay fresh, energized, enthusiastic about these projects. Also, because they’re entrepreneurial in nature, there’s risk, all types of different risks, financial, personal, opportunity costs and the like. I want to stay energized and passionate about the opportunities while at the same time staying level headed. How do I stay passionate and energized enough to defend my ideas about these opportunities while being open minded and flexible about suggestions/criticisms from others. How do I manage the dilemma of having the fire, but also realistic?                DP

Frank’s Reply:
Firstly, we all get in ruts sometimes, but I would watch my language (as language shapes our experience), call it a “creative break” or a “refocus period”, as if you’ve ever really been stuck in a winter icy rut with your bald tires, tough to get out and the word is powerful for your subconscious mind!

Whenever we tackle something for the first few times we are complete and utterly “lost” and relatively “useless” as we have few reference points or guide points letting us know “proceed you are on the right track” or something similar. I’m hearing a fair amount of enthusiasm (great! Passion #2 on the ES) but also fear (awful feeling #22 on the ES!). Trust your intuition on these “great” opportunities and follow them as far as they feel good to you and motivate you, otherwise put them aside and focus on what’s working.

The best way to feel fresh and energized with these projects is to fully commit all of you to them, don’t hold back (your STUMPS (acronym for Saboteur Trickster Most Pathetic Self in “u”) is telling you to be guarded and not give 100%), don’t listen, do it anyway. Remember it’s not what you do that is important but who you become in the trials and tribulations of trying, failing and dusting yourself off and trying again. Being an entrepreneur is a lonely profession, I know. Thousands of untold invested hours with sometimes zero external money or result to show for it, that’s why many prefer a cushy job, guaranteed income.  The fact you have multiple projects is a great testament to others’ confidence in you and your openness, trust that side of yourself.

As for Realistic VS Passion, they are polar opposites and inversely correlated. As an early stage entrepreneur I would lean 80% passion, 20% realistic as all great breakthroughs were not realistic.
Realistic is for losers and those who work in bean-counter organizations, not us little mice (vs. dinosaur) entrepreneurs. Besides realistic has no vision, juice or power! Passion can sell any idea to anyone.

I would make sure I have well set out goal milestones and these need to be things you know are needed to succeed, but NOT the final result, keep reframing it bigger. Here’s an example from my work.

  • When I first had the idea of Cobra in the Closet project I wanted to write about my client’s progress over 37 days.
  • I had no clear goals in writing other than to capture what was occurring and my evaluation (still in experiment/report mode)
  • Then as I began writing more and more (what I thought were good pages) I realized I loved writing this book and committed to writing a minimum of 3 pages a day in it (with no final target).
  • I soon realized my experiment subject was not playing her “role” as student / coachee at all”. At this point I wanted to quit saying “how can I write a book about coaching her if she doesn’t want to be coached?
  • I realized then, my viewpoint was too small so I reframed it (helped by the journaling in the book I was writing). I reframed it this way:

“I may fail as a coach, Jen may fail as a student but the project succeeds madly!”

This took a lot of pressure off me, and allowed me to continue.

Last point: As an entrepreneur: Other people will criticize and try to discourage you mostly because it is so confronting to have someone go for their dreams when you have not followed yours. Society is hypercritical and small minded. As an entrepreneur, hang with others who are on similar paths as they get it, all others especially close family and friends come from “well-meaning fear” but they steal all our passion and juice and give our STUMPS ammunition. They are dream-stealers….avoid them as it takes too much energy to “defend” as you say. Trust me over time no one will get to you, as you don’t give them an inch, your vibration is so strong and sure, they feel it and buy in!

Good luck let us know how it goes!

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