I’m currently participating in some active discussions about the psychology of the entrepreneurial mind and its propensity for both heightened creativity and self-destruction
So, how does one not just survive the entrepreneurial journey but enjoy it?
There is a huge psychological difference that depends on whether someone is passionate about the problem or not.
Entrepreneurs who are not passionate about the problem they are working on derive much of their energy from the promise of reaching “the destination”.
The journey is not enjoyable.
On the other hand when the entrepreneur IS passionate about the problem and the process of company building, without self-worth attached to a exterior success metric, but where the exterior success metric is “strongly preferred”. The whole process, the whole journey, feels worthwhile. The journey is the point. The ups and the downs are both learning opportunities.
And if you really focus on the process and learn all the lessons the “downphases” are trying to teach you, then you have exponentially increased your chances of reaching the “destination”. Maybe not with that startup, but surely with the next, or the next.
Even more high leverage is when the journey is not just for yourself but for a context larger than yourself. When you know what you are working on has the potential to transform the world.
Then you can’t quit. Then you can’t take your own life. Because you have a responsibility to something bigger than yourself. You have a responsibility to the world, to keep going no matter what.
I understand that most entrepreneurs find the entrepreneurial journey one endless of slog of “suck”. Always teetering on the edge of destruction. I know this perspective intimately having been on my own up and down startup roller coaster the past few years. But while this is the mindset most entrepreneurs have, I believe it is far from the healthiest and most adaptive mindset entrepreneurs could have.
The Buddha says “In life there is suffering”.
And the entrepreneurial journey is essentially a heightened, amplified state of life.
But just because there is suffering doesn’t mean we entrepreneurs have to “identify” with the suffering, and suffer ourselves.
The suffering can remain “object” to the entrepreneur. The constant grind and the set of grand challenges that stand in the way of company success can seem innumerable. Until one day, when when it seems the putting out fires and slaying monsters will never stop, a threshold is crossed, the company levels up, a big round is raised, a product is launched or a company exits,
But slaying monsters doesn’t have to be an emotionally painful process. Entrepreneurs don’t have to flip a shit every time a new monster appears, thinking “oh, no not again, will this ever end?”. Slaying monsters can be accepted as an inevitable part of the journey.
The suffering doesn’t need to bleed into the “subject” (or subjective consciousness) of the entrepreneur and robbing them from a psychological place of balanced contentedness, where thinking is clearest, creativity is highest and productivity is greatest.
I believe striving for this mindset is much more adaptive.
The technology entrepreneurship world has amazingly sophisticated methodology for dealing with the exterior world. But it is incredibly deficient when it comes to methodology for dealing with the interior world.
There is a strong need and financial upside for the startup world to integrate many interior psychological methodologies from traditions like Buddhism and from western psychoanalytic frameworks like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Keegan’s Stages of Self-Identity, Piagetian Stages of Cognitive Development, Psychometric profiling systems.
I see so much potential in this area that I’ve begun work with a number of collaborators to integrate this Interior Perspective with work done on the Startup Genome.
What are your thoughts on the most adaptive entrepreneurial mindsets to endure its inevitable trials and tribulations?