The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Unless our brains get involved. Then we’ll find a way to roam the world looking for complicated alternatives.
The mind can catapult us to our greatest hopes and dreams, or it can confuse and torture us until we give up in disappointment.
Here are the most common mental battles entrepreneurs face, plus a quick prescription for each.
1. Little think.
“You don't think big enough. I think of writing scores of books, a body of work, you procrastinate over a blog post.” -- Alan Weiss
We never will hit our milestones if we allow each step to stall us. Overthinking the small things traps us, preventing us from achieving the big things.
The enemy of procrastination is now. Make a quick but solid decision, and move forward by leaps.
2. Doubt fires.
“Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.” -- W. Clement Stone
When doubt fills our minds, fear dominates our thoughts. Take action and realize that most of your fears are imagined. Self-imposed nightmares conjure the worst possible results.
Perhaps you can’t take the “massive action” so often encouraged. But you can take a step and then another step. You can move toward your goal.
3. Future failures.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” -- J. K. Rowling
When we fail to profit, we often become prophets. We start seeing failure in advance, even if there’s no evidence our venture is headed for disaster. When the mind foresees failure, it can lead to paralysis.
Fight future failure by reminding yourself of past successes. Use evidence from your past to predict your future.
4. Dataless decisions.
“Economics is everywhere, and understanding economics can help you make better decisions and lead a happier life." -- Tyler Cowen
Emotional decisions can be dangerous, but dataless decisions can be fatal. By nature, most entrepreneurs are risk-takers. We have a little bit of gambler in us, so it’s easy to make gut decisions even when the odds are against us.
Instead of rolling the dice on pure instinct, consult the figures on the spreadsheets or your group of trusted advisors. Make decisions based on solid facts, not just the excitement of the moment.
5. Fuzzy focus.
“You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” -- Mark Twain
The ability to go where you want begins with the ability to envision it clearly in your mind. Yet our imaginations seem drawn to clutter and often end up overwhelming us.
Find clarity by compartmentalizing your thoughts. Create mental “buckets” and sort the various facets of your business. Spend time thinking separately about sales, marketing, revenue and expenses, or the convergence will become unbearable.
6. Complicated calculations.
“Clarity comes with simplicity.” -- Brendon Burchard
This mental block falls right in line with the last one. Instead of making fast, minimal decisions, we tend to make slow, maximal decisions. There are times we could simply ask a friend for quick feedback, but we allow issues to fall to a committee. Too many calculators only complicate the process.
Ask yourself, “What is the fastest, safest way to reach X results?” Then do it.
7. Motivational manipulation.
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” -- Napoleon Hill
Maybe. Sometimes the mental block is not a negative, but a positive. We become so convinced we’ll reach a goal that we expect the entire team to adopt our thinking. This motivational manipulation might help in the short term. But we can’t ignore accruing evidence that signals we might be headed for disappointment.
Motivate without the manipulation. Be honest about the ground you’ve gained or lost with the current strategy. Reality is not a curse word; it’s the word that forms our world.
The mind will never be fully tamed, so continue fighting these mental blocks with courage and consistency.