Two specific tools for tuning up your mental game of entrepreneurship

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Business models, pricing structures and marketing systems are all critical pieces of running a business. It is important to study them and experiment with what works for you.

But do you know what really trips up a lot of entrepreneurs?ย  The mental stuff. Emotions. Self doubt. Loneliness. Insecurity.

I wrote two articles for American Express Open Forum about the mental game of entrepreneurship.

The first, Controversy is Good, is about dealing with challenge and conflict. This has been a big learning curve for me personally, since I used to have a really tough time dealing with negative feedback. It still stings occasionally, but I have learned some ways to take the good learning from the criticism and toss the rest. You can’t play bigger in the world if you afraid of getting negative feedback. It is part of the territory.

The second, How to Succeed by Building Your Body of Evidence is a concept I learned from my friend Jonathan Fields. He conducted a fantastic series of interviews to support his Career Renegade book which he called a “body of evidence” of successful entrepreneurs for others pondering a major career change.ย  If everyone around you thinks you are crazy to take a new path, you may need to compile a new body of evidence that it is possible.

Enjoy the reads, and the weekend!

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14 Responses to “Two specific tools for tuning up your mental game of entrepreneurship”

  1. Phil Bolton says:

    Pam –

    Thank you so much for this article. I escaped a year ago and have been building my coaching practice ever since. The toughest part of this process has been living with what happens in my head, much more so than any lack of business knowledge. It is the most rewarding learning experience though and you capture it so well.

    Thanks for the reminder and inspiration,

    .-= Phil Bolton´s last blog ..Find your Focus in 2010 โ€“ Feel the Fear and Do it anyway =-.

  2. Farouk says:

    nice post, i love your blog title and slogan, really describes how the corporate is

  3. Carol Roth says:

    Hi Pam:

    The mental aspect sure is interesting, isnโ€™t it? I particularly liked your How to Succeed by Building Your Body of Evidence piece. Any kind of preparation an aspiring entrepreneur does will help them to evaluate the risks and rewards of the opportunity. However, as important as it is to find the supporters, I would advise not to completely turn a blind eye to the naysayers either. You can find statistics to support just about anything! My anecdotal experience suggests that there are at least as many entrepreneurs or solopreneurs who ignore pretty major issues regarding their new business endeavors as those who feel trepidation about starting a new project. The key is to look at both the pros and the cons, understand the implications behind them and then ultimately decide if the potential rewards (qualitative and financial) justify the risks you are taking, given your own personal circumstances.

    Carol Roth

  4. Pamela says:

    You could be right Barbara, my sample is probably skewed because of the nature of the work I do. 90% of the people who come to me want support in the “can I -should I- who do I think I am to start a business” camp, so I see a huge amount of mental fitness and emotional agility required to be successful.

    Probably the only distinguishing element I have seen between those that “make it” and those who “fail” (I realize everyone defines these differently) is the ability to take a big licking and keep on ticking. The people who don’t take failure personally, who learn voraciously and look for the positive in challenging situations are often those who have the most fun and success in business.

    But I could be wrong — and am often. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  5. Hmmm….I’m not so sure that “emotional stuff” is what trips most people up. Mental and emotional are hard to separate; however, I think many of us – especially well-educated professionals – were schooled in incorrect models.

    In particular, we employees all sell “labor.” Though it wasn’t articulated for me this way, “Go to college and get a good job” is a life strategy based upon raising the market value of my labor. It has been a big shift to realize that selling ONLY labor is a dead-end game, even if the labor I sell goes at a high price.

    This dynamic plays out in the professional who hangs up a shingle and sells “services” at $150 per hour and ends up with an overwhelmed lifestyle and no profits. It also plays out in any number of businesses my students and clients have had that monetize only “me doing X.” You hear evidence of this imprecise thinking when people say that “doctors make X in 15 minutes” without understanding that the doctor isn’t being paid just for time, or even expertise; she is also being for the power to write the prescription, which is ultimately scalable and not bound by time.

    As long as “my business” is “something I do,” I’m in a financial trap. I’m also in an emotional trap as a result because “what I do” is tied up in “who I am” moment to moment in a very different way that “what I cause” would be. So, I end up adopting unnecessary constraints and ruling out certain obvious solutions.

  6. fas says:

    Sweet stuff, read both. Anything more worth a read.
    .-= fas´s last blog ..Making Money Online Has Alot Of Options =-.

    • Pamela says:

      Thanks for always stopping by and supporting the blog Fas, I really appreciate it! I know you asked me awhile ago if I were going to India — it looks like I will be in Punjab in October. Are you anywhere near?



  7. I too have had hard times with negative feedback. Sometimes it makes you just want to throw your hands up in the air and say “I quit.” But it it is important to be persistent and believe in yourself. We have to think of negative feedback as something we can learn and improve upon. In a way, it is a kind of blessing. Great post!
    .-= Steven | The Emotion Machine´s last blog ..How To Think Less And Do More: Turning Life Into Flow =-.

    • Pamela says:

      Learning is a blessing indeed! And there is no way we get everything right all the time — impossible. ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. Negative feedback can be hard to swallow but its necessary to plug up the holes in our personal development. If others are brutally honest you will become aware of the areas where you need to make massive change.
    .-= Richard |´s last blog ..Awareness Meditation =-.

    • Pamela says:

      I agree Richard! Have you ever read the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz? That really helped me with feedback.


  9. Pam,

    Thanks for these links to your other articles. I’ve been reading your book at lunchtime, sitting in my beat-up blue truck outside our corporate offices. It’s difficult to go back to the poorly-lit gray cubicle I work from.

    I agree that the mental game is more of a challenge than the strategy or tactics of entrepreneurship. Someone once said we base decisions more on what we feel, than what we know. The math for breaking free may all add up in our heads, but not in our hearts. The lizard brain won’t let us develop faith and confidence.

    Thanks for your work.

    P.S. – would you answer 4-5 questions for me via email so I can profile you as a “Success Story” on my site? You can see an example that I just did for Pat Flynn on the home page. I’m specifically interested in what and how you taught yourself to succeed. Entirely understandable if you can’t find time to do it, and thanks for your consideration.


    • Pamela says:

      Thanks for sharing your lunch breaks with me Steven! I totally remember some times (even as a consultant) when I needed to step out of the offices to get perspective.

      I wish you the best of luck with your plans, and would be happy to answer your questions.

      All the best,