I often get asked, “What is the most difficult part of entrepreneurship? Is it, staying afloat? Raising capital? Finding customers? Creating a self-sustaining life?” The answer is no-- to all of those, actually. Yes, each of those is respectively difficult in their own way, but for me, personally, the most difficult daily challenge is the mental balance of time. To break it down in it’s most simplistic form, we all have 24 hours in a day. And, it is a dance. I have to learn to ebb and flow with what I want to accomplish for my day-to-day tasks, and also handle what the day brings.
Here are some of the steps and movements of my 24-hour dance:
... The list can go on and on, but those are just to name a few.
These are listed in no particular order, and depending on who you are as a person, you may weigh a heavier importance on certain “dance steps” more than others. In order for me to go to bed soundly at night, and to know I have given it my all during the day, regardless of the sales volume-outcome, I put the utmost importance on preparation, mindfulness, authenticity, clarity/purpose, and fear.
Let’s start with fear because all other steps are there to help eliminate it. Fear is a big one for me, personally. Fear of failure, fear of a NO, fear of not selling-- the list goes on. I have now come to grips with what fear really is. A waste of time. Fear is a just a thought-filler in my head, and it takes away from my purpose. Fear annoys clarity. Fear takes preparation and tries to throw it out the window. Fear takes the balance of time and fully tilts the scale in its favor.
Sometimes thoughts creep into my head, saying things like “ I am running out of time,” and the should-have and would-haves start knocking at my door. The what-ifs show their ugly faces. Time begins to race, long-term goals become tasks that need to be completed by tomorrow. Everything feels rushed, but only 5 minutes have passed. This is where the other steps come into play.
I have realized that it’s ok to feel fear, which is another feeling I have come to grips with. It’s normal. It’s the what you do when you start feeling those fears. And, for me, I have transferred fear into creating motion and energy that works toward generating sales, growth, and knowledge.
This what you’ll typically see in my dance:
1. Preparation. As soon as my alarm goes off in the morning, I grab my towel, either gym clothes or work attire, head upstairs to the kitchen, and grind fresh coffee. I turn on the coffee machine knowing there will be a fresh pot waiting for me in 5-10 min. Then I proceed to the shower. A new habit I have recently started is taking an ice cold shower to start the morning. Today was the first time I have left the shower without a brain freeze. And, man do I LOVE it. The cold rush eliminates all previous thoughts of clutter, ideas, tasks, etc. I hear when you first wake up. Doing this helps me lock-in a sense of clarity of what I want to accomplish over the next hour or two. Having the reward of a freshly ground pot of coffee is a nice way to warm up.
2. Mindfulness. After grabbing a mug, I go and sit down to turn on the Headspace app. I have gone on and off with meditation for the past 3-4 years, but ever since buying the full Headspace program, I’ve begun to track my progress in terms of growth, mental state, and awareness. Again, the meditation itself is a propeller towards clarity, purpose, short and long-term happiness throughout the day.
3. Authenticity. After meditating, I pull out my journal and write about one moment from the previous day. It helps my storytelling, improves my memory, and also allows me to track my growth in terms of clarity and feelings. It’s cool because I can look back over the course of 1-2 years to see the mental state I was in on any given day. Most importantly it is the storytelling that attracts me to journaling. I have practiced the best way to talk about the different products, the story of Darwin, or even to have a strong conversation. Previously, I never knew how I was going to have to express Darwin to a friend, customer, whomever. Now, I know how to clearly do that while also figuring out what medium or platform I will have to use-- whether it be social media, email, text, phone call or in person. In a cool way, journaling different moments on any given day has helped me to be true to who I am as a person.
4. Clarity & Purpose. Lastly, I sit down at my desk and look over my personal and Darwin to-do list. The first step is to rank the level of importance, knowing exactly what needs to get done first. Sometimes, though, when I am feeling a bit off, or not as confident with the start of my day, I will do some small, minimal task that takes little-to-no time to get the energy flowing. So many articles tell you to do the opposite: do the most difficult task first to get it out of the way. That way, every task after seems easier! Sure, that’s all fine and good, but for me, it comes down to energy. When I have energy flowing, I can feel my purpose and see with clarity what I want to accomplish throughout the day to get myself, Darwin, and those around me, one step closer towards short-term and long-term goals.
These four dance steps are what help me eliminate the early entrance of fear. Sometimes, I have to go through these steps multiple times a day to allow myself to combat the days where I feel down and frustrated from constantly battling the unknown. I regroup, recenter, and I am reminded through this practice as to why I am doing what I am doing. Instead of thinking fear is the element that speeds up time, it’s the artful practice of the other mental and physical dance steps that allow time to slow down, focus and successfully accomplish my goals for Darwin in order to springboard the company and self forward.
Best part is, as soon as I wake up, I get to do it all over again, learning new moves that will help me today, this week, a month or a year from now.
Face your fear head on, and focus on what you CAN do, because that’s when your true authentic self will come to play.