Growth only happens when you stretch. It’s when you’re uncomfortable, when you push yourself, when you struggle, that you break through to new capabilities. In startups and entrepreneurship, especially a first startup, it all feels like a stretch. Because it is. You never know what you can do until you do it for the first time. So what if you fail? When you first fell off your bike while learning how to ride, did you abandon all hope, stop trying and walk away? If you answered yes, please go get back on a bike, now. Fall down. Get back on, do it again. Learn that being a wobbly beginner won’t kill you, even if it hurts. Do it a few more times or until you’re not afraid, and then come back and read the rest of this. Chances are, you’re feeling fearless at this point. Good.
At NACET’s Women’s Innovation Network (WIN) gathering in June, local entrepreneur, social media maven, and author Kim Yuhl shared her recent entrepreneurial experience. She revealed the early awkwardness she felt when having to talk herself through her doubts and hesitations, literally. She had to actually talk out loud to herself. But guess what? It worked. She broke through her fear, and she accomplished more than she expected. Wouldn’t we all subject ourselves to a little discomfort and awkwardness if we knew it would pay off? Well, it does. It takes more than one uncomfortable moment, but it always works.
So, what are you afraid of? What skill do you believe you lack? Also, what do you do well that you can improve further? Bring to mind your best and your worst, and take them up a couple of notches (for now, ignore the stuff in the middle). Let’s say you’re a very good public speaker, but you are a truly terrible time manager. How can you go from being a very good public speaker to the best speaker anyone has ever heard? What do the best-of-the-best speakers do? What do you have in common with them? What do you have that’s different and unique? What’s your secret sauce? What particular thing can you adopt from the best? Can you try it out? For a month? Can you commit to improving just that one thing?
What about your weaker skill, time management? What makes you unable to excel? What is the worst thing keeping you from managing time well? Why is it the worst? What one thing can you do to make an improvement? The most improvement? Again, observe those who do it well. Identify one thing that they do that is doable and practical for you now. Can you do that one thing? For a whole month? Don’t worry about the 150 other things you realize you could do to improve, but don’t do. Don’t worry for now about the things that make you afraid. Just do that one thing. Yes, it’s difficult. But everything worth doing is. Do it anyway. That’s the stretch. That’s where you grow.
Everybody has skills, everybody has weaknesses. What are the skills you believe are most important to the success you want to achieve? Write them down. Pick the best and the worst of your list and then improve each of them, even by a little. You’ll probably find that what’s holding you back is complacency about what you’re good at, and fear about what you don’t do well. Make yourself uncomfortable, stretch, take a step you’ve been delaying. Whether it is a call, an announcement, a website or a request. Get on the bike. Go down a steep hill. Conquer it. Then, pick a new target and get uncomfortable again.
When you stress a muscle, it sustains a little damage, it hurts, and then it heals, and the next time it’s stronger; you’re building it. Your will, your skills and your abilities are the same. Use them, stretch them and stress them. It might mean talking to yourself out loud. It might mean falling down. But you’ll grow stronger; you’ll heal and get better. One wobbly move at a time. QCBN
WIN is one example of the many things we do at NACET to assist entrepreneurs, at any level, and to shorten the learning curve. Let us know what you need, and how we can help. email@example.com.