Every startup stems from passion. Your motivation to make a difference and express yourself through your business is what gets you out of bed in the morning.
But once reality sets in and the pressure mounts, this passion can morph into apathy -- even resentment -- as your business nags you constantly. This can take a debilitating toll on any overextended entrepreneur and ultimately impact the success of your business.
So what’s the difference between feeling like poolside Sharpay holding a martini vs. Lucy and Ethel stuffing chocolates in their uniforms to keep up? The answer: being present. You can call it mindfulness, awareness or even consciousness -- it’s all the same.
Investing emotionally in your startup has gotten you where you are today. But the line between being mindfully engaged and completely consumed by your startup can become hazy over time.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned over the years to help me stay grounded in life and work without obscuring this line:
1. Eliminate busyness.
Adopting the “busy” mentality is another avenue for being pestered. As humans, a natural response to feeling overwhelmed is the desire to do something. So if you don’t have the bandwidth to tackle a giant project, you might complete a more trivial task. But this will eventually veer your startup off course.
As entrepreneurs, your greatest contributions are your ideas, visions, execution plans and strategic (and often subtle) insights into market shifts and competitive opportunities, so you need to be present in every aspect of your business. But when you let busyness consume you, you won’t see the opportunities right under your nose.
2. Sit still and quietly.
Finding quiet amid the chaos of the day will center you and help you see things more clearly. Simply close your eyes and sit still for one minute, and work your way up to 11 minutes. The return on investment of this is often a solution that could save you countless days of misdirected action, money or time away from your family. To me, the ROI is infinite.
3. Suppress the endless to-doing, and focus on the now.
It sounds so simple, but relishing the moment is one of the hardest things for an entrepreneur to do. Who has time when there are a thousand tasks left to do?
But it’s critical to quiet the endless “to-do creating” in your mind. This is the difference between being pestered -- head-down in your company -- and showing up in the moment to recognize lucrative opportunities around you. When you’re focused on the moment and the stimuli around you, the law of attraction sets in, and potential solutions, influential people and valuable resources find their way to you. I wish I had known this long ago.
4. Tune into your “must,” not your “should.”
Your “should” encompasses how the world expects you to perform and react, while your “must” involves everything you’re internally drawn to do -- where your heartstrings pull you. According to Elle Luna, it’s your most authentic self.
Most important, this starts with bringing yourself back to your true authentic self. Similar to meditation, the more often you take a panoramic view of the world around you, the more natural it will feel over time. When you pay attention to your “must” and stay in the present, you’ll save time, money and anxiety that would’ve been spent being pestered by your business.
5. Choose to respond, not react.
When you respond to a challenge, you’re being present in the moment. Reacting, however, only makes you feel pestered. It’s OK to feel passionate and urgent, but if you’re reacting, you’re acting on your first emotion alone, and that limits your view of the situation. If you take a breath and get present, you’ll be responding, and that’s how you make and empower the right decisions.
The unpredictable lifestyle of an entrepreneur is taxing, but it’s part of the fun. Living in the present is a powerful way to get your business running at top speed while staying laser focused on your -- and your company’s -- true calling.