“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.” – Kobe Bryant, MVP award-winning, Olympic gold medallist basketball player
Being an entrepreneur or a leader of an entrepreneurial company is one of the greatest adventures you can have in your lifetime. It is challenging and rewarding like almost nothing else I’m aware of.
And whether leaders are attracted to the adventure, or the stress that comes with it, many pay a very high mental price.
We’re often wired to believe we need to handle things on our own. But when they become too intense or scarring, we really need professional help like that of a psychologist or counsellor (Yes, you too!). Think of it like the difference between a sprained toe and compound fracture of your leg – different injuries needs different sorts of help – and the same is true for stressful situations. Sometimes we need expert help to get us through.
At least once or twice a week, I’m involved in a conversation with (or about) someone who is truly suffering from the stress and pressure of the challenges they’ve taken on. And one of the biggest things I work with CEOs and leaders on is their mental resilience and emotional resilience – how they can learn to handle bigger and more stressful challenges, without crumbling under the pressure.
This is one of the most important skill sets for highly driven leaders to learn – because they’ll never stop taking on the challenges.
“Whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stronger.” – Nietzsche, 1888
Besides taking good care of yourself (with exercise, sleep, nutrition, doing fun things with friends and family), the most important strategy is how you look at these challenges. Simply changing your mindset can turn stressful challenges into learning opportunities that make you stronger.
In Your Oxygen Mask First I share a principle called ‘Woe to Wow’, which I believe is the most important shift people need to make.
You can look at these experiences through one of two lenses:
The ‘Woe’ is me mindset.
“OMG, this is horrible…someone or something is making me miserable…it’s not right…it’s not fair!”
This is very much a victim mindset. You see yourself as a victim of the situation, and hope that someone will save you, and take the problem away.
It’s passive. It’s a recipe for disaster. All you’ll do is sit there, feel crappy, and do nothing.
The ‘Wow’ mindset.
“This is crazy! I’m being tested, and stretched. I have no idea how to solve it, but I know if do, I’ll be way smarter on other side.”
This is a resilient mindset. It’s action oriented. And you may need some outside help – like a coach, a partner, or a board member – to get there.
Changing Your Mindset
So how do you make the shift? (Unfortunately I don’t believe everyone can because some people are so committed to being a victim, they can’t get out of it – at least on their own.)
See the gift within the curse.
Look for what good will come from this – that, at the very least, it’s an amazing character- or resilience-building experience for you.
Do what you can to move ahead instead of waiting for someone else to solve the problem.
And that includes getting help.
Look back and learn.
Once you’ve worked your way through, make sure you figure out the learning from the experience, and how it made you better and stronger.
Wisdom comes from getting your butt kicked – hundreds of times.
Remember: You can’t avoid crazy, stressful situations – they are going to happen. It’s why a lot of people hit a stride in their 40s and 50s: they’ve learned so much along the way.
When my clients are challenged, I often get giddy, and break into joyous laughter – because I know they are going to make it through, and I get excited about their learning and growth.
So while not of our choosing, these situations are wonderful gifts – to be loved for the teachers they are. You don’t learn anything deeper, or build character, intelligence, resilience or confidence when things go well.
These only come from fighting your way out.
“The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People with a growth mindset welcome setbacks with open arms.” – Travis Bradberry, author Emotional Intelligence 2.0