Time for a post that’s pure personal development. With a distinctly shrink-for-entrepreneurs “not what you were expecting” flavor, of course.
Stretching yourself with exercises that don’t revolve around business or traditional “personal growth” topics is critical to the success (and acceleration) of your entrepreneurial career.
In between all the workshops, non-fiction reading and mentoring we sometimes forget that the lives we lead are our primary medium for learning and growth. This post outlines seven real-world experiences that’ll permanently transform your thinking for the better – ensuring a revolution of business results.
Your life and your career are one.
Trying to draw a line between your business career and your personal life doesn’t work. The way you do anything in life, from picking up groceries to raising your children, is the way you do everything in life – including running a company.
Simply put, every part of your life is an analogue of (and a metaphor for) the other parts of your life. The tiny (but crucial) lessons you learnt in grade school still influence your thinking as a “grown up” entrepreneur. Struggle with math? I did and that’s why I outsource all my accounting – no coincidence.
The overlap doesn’t stop there though. Fanatical sportspeople intuitively get competitive in business. Duh, right? What you do in your weekend is intimately connected to the way you conduct meetings on a Wednesday. The way you relate in your relationships at home determines the way you relate to your staff and customers. And vice versa.
Life is just one big ol’ mess of perception, projection and topsy-turvy unconscious mind metaphor. Your business is no exception.
This might be a scary thought for those of your pursuing some ideal of “work life balance” but fear not, your life and business being the same is good news.
When we view every part of our lives as a metaphorical analogue of our entrepreneurial career, we’re presented incredible opportunities for fun, fulfillment and growth. At every moment.
The list I’m about to present to you sums up the seven most game-changing exercises for entrepreneurs who *get* that the way they show up in life is the way they show up at work.
Follow every one of these suggestions over the next month and your life and business will rocket to levels of success higher than you can imagine. The best part? Every suggestion on this list is a heap of fun anyway and I guarantee you’ve already told yourself “I should do that one day” for about half of these.
Let’s get into it.
Exercise 1: Expand your intelligence laterally
Become knowledgeable in a “wide and shallow” way, across a range of topics. Read, read and read some more. Get to know the basics of economics, anthropology, history, philosophy and… paleontology. Whatever. That’s only half the list.
Our past is particularly important to know about – getting a grasp of what it really means to be alive in this tiny technological blip (dwarfed by our massive history) will give you a unique perspective next time you try to sell a customer something.
Knowing stuff is important.
Exercise 2: Do something you fear at a visceral level (with a low probability of danger)
Of all the metaphorical intersections between life and business, fear is the most powerful. Starting a business is a lot like leaping out of a plane – the anxiety is the same as if you were about to die, but the statistical chance of you ending up as a pink smear are very very low.
You’ll make it, love it and immediately say “can we do that again?!”
I’m sure I don’t need to explain the value of giving yourself experience overcoming irrational fears, transforming them into exciting fun experiences.
Exercise 3: Master a single deep and narrow skill
Become an authority on a single field of knowledge that’s totally random… just because. Train your brain to go deep into a single discipline and you’ll really develop the mental muscle to do the same in your business.
You’ll also discover that as you explore the finer intricacies of pre-roman Gaelic dance rituals… that, like everything else in life, your new passion is dripping with business metaphors and subtle value.
Exercise 4: Read incredible, perspective-altering fiction
Don’t get caught in the trap of exclusively reading non-fiction. Nourish your mind with some truly brain bending fiction that shakes up your view of the world, exposes you to new beliefs and generally asks more questions than it answers.
No entrepreneur should be content with a static mental map of the world, so let some literary visionaries wipe the cobwebs from your eyes.
Some devilishly dangerous suggestions are anything by: Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Robbins or Orson Scott Card.
Exercise 5: Persuade someone else to make a life altering, positive decision
Find that friend who’s contemplating throwing everything away to travel the world. Convince her to do it. Sit down and patiently rationalize the value and importance of “choosing life” and doing the scary, fun thing… instead of the safe boring option. Explain it all to her.
This one should be obvious: You’re not really talking to someone else – you’re talking to yourself. Sure, you’re persuading your friend (sales skills anyone?) and they’re benefiting from your persuasion… but you’re really seducing your own unconscious. Aha!
Exercise 6: Build something with your hands
These days, so many entrepreneurs are creators only in the realm of the mind – which is awesome and fantastic (therein lies “scale” – we can’t all be wood workers) but it’s sometimes problematic.
We lose touch with that very real “man-make-FIRE!” experience that our ancestors felt when they carved out the first spear and stabbed the first mammoth. Ditto first musical instrument (for those who find mammoth metaphors too grisly to contemplate).
Go get your hands dirty. Build something. Make your mind see how things connect, stick together and stay that way. Find out how to plane an edge perfectly, make things smooth and strong.
Imbue yourself with powers of creation that reside in both the mind and the muscle.
Exercise 7: Remind yourself to be grateful
Most important of all, reconnect with gratitude.
Go find the place, or be with the people, or listen to that thing or do whatever you need to do… to remember just how fortunate and blessed you are.
Remember how lucky you are to be who you are, in this where and when. The fact that you even have a shot at being an entrepreneur makes you better off than about a billion people – the fact that you’re reading this on a screen makes you better off than about 5 billion of them.
I find gratitude in places with views – right now it’s the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Last year it was the Southern Alps of New Zealand or the Sydney harbor bridge. Something about high places and epic vistas reminds me of exactly where I am, how small I am and how fortunate I am.
Find your gratitude.
What other exercises do you think need to be on this list? What real life experiences contribute to your success as an entrepreneur?
With your help, I suspect the comments on this post could outpace the value of the post itself. There are no wrong answers, so let me know your thoughts…