Balancing Your Daily Emotions On The Entrepreneurial Journey
Just like the fabled Bermuda Triangle, there is a ‘business’ Bermuda Triangle of emotions to watch out for. This triangle is characterized by three competing mindsets: patience, persistence, and panic all balancing on the head of a pin, floating like a marine-compass or gyroscope on a boat. They are always in motion, swaying and gyrating, and always in need of some correction. That is what to expect in the early days, weeks, months, and years of starting a business. You will be continually balancing these three competing emotions. Every entrepreneur has been twirled around in this triangle… and most get through it.
Here is a quick example of the balancing act in the triangle of emotions:
You are dying to close a sale on a Monday (persistence), but you know Mondays are crummy days for closing sales. You know you should wait till Friday (patience) because Fridays are the best days for closing sales. You decide to wait! But then, Wednesday rolls around, and you’re getting anxious, really anxious. You panic and go for it, trying to close the sale with an email. You lose the sale. In this small, simplified example, patience needed to win out (waiting until Friday), but panic won, and you lost.
Let’s take a brief look at the three emotions.
It is easy to confuse patience with inaction or being passive. They are not the same thing. Patience is taking a measured approach and having a plan. The plan could include waiting, with some minor actions, but waiting nonetheless and letting some things unfold. You can be patient and provide some time to make things happen.
A simple example of patience would be waiting for a yes or no decision on a sale from a prospect. Let’s face it: when you are waiting for a yes or no decision on a sale from a prospect, an hour seems like a day, a day seems like a week, and a week seems like a month. But, through the eyes of the prospect, who is busy doing their job, they will get to the decision in due time. Their timeline is not your timeline. This is where some degree of patience is warranted. It will take some persistence (this is the next topic area), but that persistence may need to wait (patience).
There is a fine line between persistence and stalking. For me, that line is probably when I keep asking the same question (“Hey, you gonna buy?”) over and over again and don’t provide any added value or new information. If I can reach out with some value to the prospect/customer, then I feel better about the multiple contacts. In fact, that is a modus operandi for me—providing value or new information—as it gives me the best chance of engagement. If I cannot provide value or new information, and it is the second or third outreach, that is stalking.
In some cases, you might have to take a longer view and play the long-game. If you measure persistence in a fiscal quarter, that is one measure. Alternatively, in some instances, if you measure persistence over a three-year horizon, that is an entirely different measure. In the first measure, you are possibly being too persistent for some situations, while in the other, you are applying the right amount of patience when you have time. When you play the long game, you live to fight another day. You turn “not now” into “when.”
The famous last scene in the movie Scarface comes to mind when I think of real panic. In this scene, Al Pacino comes out of the office of his lavish home after being shot up, with his machine guns blazing, and yells, “Say hello to my little friend!” He lets a grenade launcher blast and then proceeds to get shot to pieces and falls a few stories into his indoor fountain—dead! Call it adrenaline, call it cocaine, call it going out in a blaze of glory—it’s also a good example of panic.
Not panicking is easier said than done. But please, please, do not ever show panic. There are times you will panic or be panicked, but do not show others around you. It will erode all the good you have done and want to do. The human condition smells and senses panic, and in business, it will kill you. Panic destroys the ability to choose between patience and persistence and backs you into a corner. As the leader of a new enterprise, you have to sit on panic and deal with it in private. Sometimes the best advice when panic sets-in is to just “sleep on it”. I guarantee it will look different when the sun comes up.