I talk about the extreme difficulty of achieving both wealth, freedom and sanity. It’s the trifecta of entrepreneurial success. Truth is, there is actually another ingredient that bakes the cake of entrepreneurial happiness. Love.
Bad news: The most common relationship dynamic is downright destructive when it comes to business goals.
If you’re utterly chilled out, rich and have all the time in the world… being alone will make all those victories seem bitter sweet. The rewards of business success are that much more compelling when we can share them with someone special.
The insanity, poverty and captivity experienced by business owners as they work their butts off trying to achieve success is not exactly conducive to a fantastic home life.
This is one of those double-bad situations. Entrepreneurs tend to be shitty at relationships and relationships tend to be bad news for entrepreneurs.
Before you shout out to tell me why yours is different, let’s talk about the more insidious way relationships can ruin businesses. You may never have considered what I’m about to tell you.
Entrepreneurs need to risk it all
I’ve spent years studying the psychology of ultra successful business people. Some tycoons from afar, via whatever media I can get hold of. Some, who’ve built businesses worth hundreds of millions, were clients.
Time and time again, I’ve confirmed that the most successful business people are those who are willing to risk everything to achieve something meaningful. They’re bootstrappers who’ll do what ever it takes to succeed.
This includes selling everything they own to fund a new venture. Maybe it’s working 120 hour weeks for a year. Or maybe it’s moving to the other side of the world to make it big somewhere new.
Entrepreneurs who go “all in” tend to fail spectacularly.
Don’t get me wrong, all business owners fail… but the ones who play for big stakes also fail big.
Then, something interesting happens. They get stung, learn massively and never make that mistake again. Soon, they start to win.
It turns out that entrepreneurs who win big in business have a track record of massive failures. All evidence points to the fact that a few big failures are mandatory for big success. Just ask Donald Trump about his $900 million debt.
The sting of huge failure and loss is not only educating, it’s often what emotionally galvanizes an entrepreneur to stop ****ing around and get serious about their success. Almost every successful business owner, if you ask them, can recall a specific day in their life where they said to themselves “Enough bullshit, it’s time to make things HAPPEN!” … or something of the sort.
What does this have to do with relationships?
Everything. There are two ways relationships prevent entrepreneurs experiencing the empowering and educating failures they need.
Got a partner with a comfortable salary? Could you and yours scrape by on one income if worst came to worst?
If the answer is yes, there’s a big chance you’re living in a risk bubble. You’re insulated from the real cost of your decisions, because someone has your back.
Who will be more successful, in your opinion: The newbie entrepreneur with a lawyer wife on a six figure salary… or the newbie entrepreneur with nothing and no one?
Psychology and the anecdotal statistics of almost every business leader’s autobiography confirm the latter will go on to be a rockstar.
If you’re in a cushion relationship, it’s likely that you’re being robbed of the fiery motivational drive to get your venture off the ground.
Luckily, the solution is simple.
To escape the paralysis of a cushion relationship, you simply need to do that which you fear the most. Think bigger. Take bigger risks and build something with the momentum that takes you way outside your comfort zone, both psychologically and financially.
Build a business that could (and will) earn more that your partner’s income. Build a business that intelligently risks more than your partner can afford to bail you out of… and make it work.
It’ll scare the shit out of you. You’ll wake up every morning knowing that every action you take in the day matters enormously.
In other words, you’ll start to feel like an entrepreneur.
What if you’re not in a cushion relationship. The other common (even worse) relationship dynamic for entrepreneurs is:
These are the opposite of the cushion, because you are supposed to be the cushion. Your partner is leaning you. If you’ve been working a comfortable job for years… is your partner going to be okay for you to risk everything to have a shot at business success?
Pillar relationships happen when your partner grows complacent relying on your money making abilities and doesn’t share your goal for freedom and wealth. Why start a business, they say, when you could simply keep up your well paid corporate postion.
I’ve seen pillar relationships where the entrepreneur was only “allowed” to go full time on their own business if they could guarantee a salary that matched their old job. No matter what.
This is the fast track to insanity. The drooling, twitching kind.
When an entrepreneur is under pressure to achieve their goals, keep staff and customers happy and stay in business… all the while keeping a partner in the lifestyle they’re comfortable with… something is going to pop. Or explode.
Don’t get me wrong, I think pressure is good. Pressure is motivating and a bit of initial scrambling in a start-up can be hugely positive… even if it’s only positive in hindsight. However, there is such a thing as too much pressure.
When an entrepreneur isn’t free to fail, they’re not free to learn. When a spouse makes the cost of learning too high, an entrepreneur will go crazy trying to avoid that learning experience.
A pillar relationship is one in which the partner isn’t willing to take the hit of a “learning experience”. It’s a relationship where an undercurrent of threat exists at all times.
The solution to this insidious relationship is, unfortunately, unavailable for some. The partner has to be willing to utterly embrace the most cliched vow in existence…
“For better or for worse…”
It’s impossible to maintain both a successful business AND relationship when this vow is missing.
For an entrepreneur to really flourish, their partner needs to understand that total failure is an option. In fact, for a total newcomer to self employed business, some failure is guaranteed.
When a spouse gives their entrepreneur partner the commitment of the “For better or for worse” vow, they liberate them enormously. They empower them to play the game at 110% with the safety and knowledge that, though they might end up camping in a tent by the side of the road… a loving embrace is never far away.
When it comes to building businesses, this knowledge tends to help. Massively. The certainty of a relationship that’ll never go away because of business mistakes is the most powerful psychological force an entrepreneur can possess.
The certainty of this vow creates a new kind of relationship that transcends the reliance of a pillar and the comfort of a cushion. It creates a platform of trust and emotional safety on which an entrepreneur can build a rocket.
Rockets tend to crash, burn and waste millions. Even the experts at NASA get them wrong sometimes. However, when a rocket succeeds it achieves flight and velocity that makes everyone else just sit and gape in awe.