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8 Insights About Entrepreneurship and Resilience

Entrepreneurship and resilience is a big topic and yet it is also quite simple.  Resilient entrepreneurs live to tell the tale.  Everyone else gets a job…ok, I know that sounds harsh.  But I’ve been reflecting on this topic a lot as I read the books for the next EntrepreNerds discussion and contemplate my own journey.

Entrepreneurship is an adrenaline junkies joy ride.  Your heart will surely race, often from excitement, sometimes from fear.  But this roller coaster is not for the faint of heart.  Challenges, setbacks, false starts, disruptions, adversity, the F word…failure..happens in business.  I believe that’s Murphy’s law. And either you bounce back or you quit.  You’ve got resiliency or you don’t. At least, that’s my self pep talk.

1. What is Resilience?

Resilience is defined as the ability to recover from adversity, buoyancy.  In his book, Resilience, Zolli states that resilience is “the capacity of a system, enterprise, or a person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances.”  [emphasis added by Zolli]

2. External Adversity

I have found that Adversity can take two forms.  The most obvious is external adversity.  A shift in pricing in the commodities market, a natural disaster, a new regulation, a client’s success these are all external factors that may impact our businesses.  These forces are beyond our control, yet the resilient entrepreneur has the capability to foresee and address these external circumstances.

What external circumstances do you foresee impacting your business and how?

3. Internal Adversity

The other form of adversity, the one we actually do have control over, is internal.  It’s that inner voice that criticizes you for not being able to do anything “right”. It’s the self-doubt that convinces you that this is a sign it’s not going to work so you might as well just give up now.  Your inner dialogue plays a huge role in directing or mis-directing your efforts.

What is your greatest internal struggle?

4. Gremlin Taming

Gremlin taming is one of my favorite approaches for “managing” your inner dialogue.  There are countless opportunities for your gremlin to intervene, sabotaging your resolve. You have to stop negative self-talk. But the real kicker is that eliminating negative thoughts completely isn’t the answer.  Rick Carson, author of Taming Your Gremlin suggests, “simply noticing.”  Practice being a nonjudgmental bystander of your inner dialogue; this technique is a form of mindfulness.

What things have you observed your gremlin saying to you?

5. Plan for the Worst

One of the things that consistently came up in my research on resilience is the importance of planning for worst case scenarios.  You have to be aware of and acknowledge that shit can and will hit the fan. You even have to plan for it.  Zolli asserts that “Resilience forces us to take the possibility-even necessity-of failure seriously.”  Anything could happen, that is why resilient entrepreneurs are optimistically prepared.

What’s your plan for the worst case scenario?

6. Adapt

While resilient entrepreneurs have a plan in place, they are capable of playing it by ear.  Adaptation is a crucial element of resiliency.  At the most basic level this means being open to changing your mind. Seeing possibilities in problems!  But it’s important that there are somethings you remain resolute about. What I like about Zolli’s definition of resilience is that you adapt while remaining true to your values and core purpose.

What are you willing to re-negotiate in your business and, at it’s core, what must remain consistent?

7. A Resilient Network

Despite a fierce sense of independence many entrepreneurs possess, resiliency cannot be achieved alone.  According to Zolli, “our resilience is rooted in that of the groups and communities in which we live and work.”  Both formal and informal networks have proven necessary for resiliency.

What are your support networks?

8. Be Optimistic!

Resilient people all have one thing in common, they are optimists.  The song, “don’t worry, be happy” plays in my mind when I think of this concept.  Cheesy as it may be, whenever I here it I inevitably smile.  Optimists have a sense of hope that empowers them to move past all the negativity, fear and uncertainty with a deep belief that everything will workout.

How can you reframe a problem as an opportunity?

Wrapping Up!

Entrepreneurship and resilience is a fascinating topic to study.  Digging into the materials for the EntrepreNerds book discussion has been illuminating.  One of the things that has been most profound for me is realizing the role that EntrepreNerds has played as a resilient network.  The community has helped not only myself but other entrepreneurs persevere in the face of adversity!

Join fellow EntrepreNerds at our March Book Discussion (+ 3 Year Anniversary Celebration) on Entrepreneurship and Resilience on March 3, at 3:33pm.  Details and registration available online here.

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