The evolution every entrepreneur must undergo
By Sharmila Ganapathy-Wallace October 5, 2017
- The reality is, the company is bigger than you
- Committing to do work on yourself, will translate to your company’s success
ALTHOUGH he spent thirteen years of his career as an entrepreneur, Good Startups chief executive officer and executive coach Justin Milano (pic) is the first to remind you that as an entrepreneur, you are not your company.
Milano, a speaker at the ongoing MaGIC Academy Symposium 2017 hosted by the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), pointed out that while being an entrepreneur is one of the best things you can actually do, 65% of startups fail due to founder and team issues.
During his talk titled ‘Founder Freedom: Three Mindsets for Exponential Growth and Well Being”, he also highlighted a tweet by Elon Musk in July which expressed Musk’s frustration with entrepreneurism, where Musk tweeted: “The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress. Don’t think people want to hear about the last two.”
The “I am my company” belief and other limiting beliefs
Milano explained that Good Startups has studied human emotions and minds for the last 10 years and has data from over 1,000 companies worldwide regarding the well-being of entrepreneurs.
Their findings? “From research working with entrepreneurs, they have a tendency to identify with their companies. The ‘I am my company, I am the game-changer’ problem is what happens. When company has major downs what happens to you? It causes unconscious suffering,” Milano said.
“As soon as you say ‘I am my company’, you create an identity with your investors and team members, which creates expectations. When we’re attached with things being a certain away, it creates fear and anxiety. It’s all about you leads to self-centred behaviour. But the reality is, the company is bigger than you; it’s about how you can serve,” he cautioned.
Another limitation that entrepreneurs often impose on themselves is an unhealthy relationship with anxiety that is rooted in ego and the need to control uncontrollable outcomes. “When we have desires on how we want things to be, we are trying to control uncontrollable things. But reality doesn’t always work out the way we want,” he explained.
Anxiety, in turn, leads to greed and a feeling of subconscious scarcity, which manifests in feelings of not having enough time, money or support. This leads to anxious and fear-based behaviour.
The third destructive thing that entrepreneurs often do to themselves, said Milano, is beating themselves up for perceived mistakes and failures. “When your company is a reflection of yourself, this creates a lot of suffering. Self-beat up comes from pride. This creates a feeling of loneliness and mental suffering behind the scenes that no one wants to talk about.”
The solution to the problem
To break their negative habits, Milano asks that entrepreneurs use what he calls the ‘triangle of leadership expansion’, which focuses on a ‘bigger than me’ belief, selfless service and a growth mindset.
The ‘bigger than me’ belief comes from a feeling of humility, where an entrepreneur should realise that he or she is simply a vessel to be of service. “You are not your company. It is important to remember that your company may fail, but you will never be a failure. Subconscious humility leads to seeing more possibilities, creativity, innovation, awe and service,” Milano emphasised.
His antidote to anxiety is selfless service, where one is no longer afraid of the constant uncertainty or challenges that come with being an entrepreneur. He advised entrepreneurs to ask of themselves “How am I being asked to serve today?” and realise that anxiety hijacks creativity. “Use anxiety as information, and over time let it go,” he advised.
The growth mindset is all about being kind to oneself through mistakes and failures. “It’s all about learning, growing and embracing challenges,” he pointed out.
According to Milano, the growth mindset saves massive time and cognitive resources via self-compassion because failure does not exist. He advised entrepreneurs to examine what they can learn from their experiences and practice self-compassion, as subconscious self compassion leads to empathy, rapid problem solving and increased cognitive capacity.
“If you’re waiting for the world to be less chaotic, you’ll be waiting a long time. You do the work on yourself and from that place, the whole reality around you shifts. How do you want to show up each day as you’re building your company?”
Milano noted that if one can create a company from a place of balance and well-being, it’s a new way to do entrepreneurship. “By committing to do work on yourself, it will translate to your company’s success,” he concluded.