Such struggles are why it helps to go on long bike rides with friends. And while the Misfit Entrepreneur is on a journey of mastery, focusing to finish on different projects is an essential part of the process. I wrote this book because of the Co-Creators that have been on this journey with me. There were a lot of things that happened since I started writing this book in December 2015, that derailed my efforts in some way, shape or form. Co-Creators held me accountable to get back on track each and every time!
There are other benefits to a more collaborative approach to building your business. Engaging readers in my creative process has also enabled me to adopt a variety of different perspectives along the way. It is like looking in a mirror that magnifies, clarifies and enhances your own thinking in a way that allows you to be more articulate, well rounded and resonant (I hope).
This co-creational writing experiment has also afforded me opportunities to deepen my own practice as a Misfit Entrepreneur and battle test the ideas in this book alongside readers. I have made some mistakes along the way that I have learned a lot from, and am happy to share those with you later. At the same time, I have enjoyed great new successes in my business that I may have never accomplished if I hadn’t given myself the gift of my own time, attention and deep reflection to write and finish this book.
Time is Elusive
We all have just 24 hours in the day. Beyonce, Yo Yo Ma, and President Obama each have the same amount of time in their day that you and I do. We know this. It is fact. And yet time is this elusive, mischievous, tricky business partner.
A lot of people overestimate what they can accomplish in a day and underestimate what they can accomplish over time. This is why long-term goals are so important. Especially if you make a concerted effort to chip away at them day-in and day-out. When I finally decided to start my own business in 2011 I thought I had this sudden epiphany and finally figured things out. But when I reread my journals from 2008 I realized I had been working towards this vision for years! It just took on a new shape, namely self-employment.
Like many Misfit Entrepreneur’s, I suffer from underestimating how long it will take me to accomplish long-term goals. Everything generally takes longer than I expect it to, this is a lesson I have had to learn over and over again. And it is a painful lesson because no matter what you end up compromising. Either you try to do it all and spread yourself too thin or you give up on something before you really gave it a chance. Ultimately, you can become quickly discouraged. I have come to terms with the fact that I am in the long-game.
Most Misfit Entrepreneur’s are in the long-game. We aren’t your prototypical tech start up that’s seeking high growth and big name investors to position ourselves for an IPO (Initial Public Offering) or purchase so we can get rich and retire on a beach somewhere. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not for most Misfit Entrepreneurs! We don’t ascribe to traditional definitions of success. We take on challenges that no one else will. And we want to create a positive impact. These things take time.
Time becomes even more elusive when you’re in the long-game. One minute you feel like you’ve been working at it forever and getting nowhere. Then in the blink of an eye, everything in your business changes. You look up one day and suddenly realize you’ve hit a stride. Sometimes it seems like a single phone call, conversation, event or person can be the catalyst for your turning point. But it’s more likely due to your persistence and tenacity continuously experimenting on and revising your idea. It’s as though you became so ingrained in being on your journey that you didn’t even realize you just successfully climbed a huge hill until you’re coasting down the other side.
Learn From Your Mistakes
You can have a more constructive response to your misses by identifying and rewriting your habit patterns after making a mistake. There are a few tricks I use to quiet my inner critic and turn my mistakes into valuable learning opportunities. Here’s a shocker, I write in my journal. Sometimes I just need to do a stream of consciousness where I let out my frustrations, re-evaluate the situation, get clear about where I went wrong and lay out a course of action for moving forward.
Another tool I like to use is called The Q. My friend Nelia Harper and I co-designed it. Take out a blank piece of paper (a journal suffices) and break it into four quadrants. Each quadrant has one of the following questions in it:
What’s not working?
What’s missing, the presence of which would make a difference?
S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) Actions?
You can fill The Q out for a specific event, meeting, project or make it general. And it is a great evaluative tool to use with teams as well. Both of these techniques help me redirect my negative inner critic so that I am leveraging the learning opportunity without beating myself up. After all, we Misfit Entrepreneurs live and learn, mistakes are a part of the process.
When I talk about what I do some people look at me and proclaim, “I could never do that.” Never do I try to convince them otherwise. I love what I do and I enjoy my work immensely. For example, I am quite thrilled to be sitting here in a cabin in the Peaceful Valley, surrounded by Aspen trees, listening to the birds chirp and the river gurgle while finishing this book. I love the solitude, communing with nature, reflecting on the Misfit Entrepreneur’s journey and writing. I am working hard and I am having fun doing it!
Obviously building a business is not all fun and games. Some of the things described in the preceding chapters may feel like drudgery to you. Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Interesting is 90% boring.” You can choose to find solace in the boring! It’s cliche but true, getting the boring stuff out of the way does allow you to have more fun in the long run.
There isn’t a clear cut formula for the correct balance of sweat equity to fun in the Misfit Entrepreneur’s journey. It’s definitely not all unicorns and rainbows. Hard work is required. But, if you’re being true to you, learning a lot and having fun, then you’re probably on a meaningful, albeit misfit, entrepreneurial journey!