Living An Entrepreneurs Mindset

These days of COVID have us observe ourselves and our world differently.  Six weeks into our dramatically altered lives, there are aspects of life we struggle to accept and some new ‘ways of seeing’ illuminated.

Like many of you, six weeks ago our world went quiet. We confronted losing our livelihoods, our team, our business and everything it seemed we had worked towards for more than 20 years.

We pivoted a few things fast. We shifted ‘current’ Leadership Programs to 100% online and doubled up on our coaching sessions to support our Program participants. We established an ‘open-room coaching’ forum for graduates, free of charge, as a space for collegial exchange and reflection.  Thank goodness we did since this space has been one of profound learning, reflection, co-invention and opportunity.

What did we notice above all?

It was the business owners, the entrepreneurs and the spirited thinkers that showed up – most weeks.  In questions. In disbelief. In despair to begin.  Then, in creation, in hope, in anticipation and as new observers of themselves and their world, aided by each other and the experience of conversation and shared journey.

For many leaders, the experience of the COVID-19 disruption is (we hope) once-in-a-lifetime, which may or may not demand that you re-invent.  For entrepreneurs and business owners, the nature of what they risk and do in the evolution of themselves and their business has COVID-19 show up a little different.  They must re-invent.  This major disruption also reveals major opportunities and possibly, a time to bring forth unique skills in being able to reframe thinking, generate new offers for the emerging market and bring offers to life… pretty quickly.

So, whether you’re working from home in a mainstream business, still operational, not working, in an industry that you’d describe as mainstream, if you’re a business leader, owner or if you’re an entrepreneur, here’s what we learned from the most active dialogue participants – ‘entrepreneurial thinking tips’ if you like, to help you surf the wave of uncertainty into the future.

  1. Tell Yourself A Better Story

Notice the quality of the narrative you have about this time of COVID-19.

Although it is impossible to predict a certain outcome or future, trying to predict ‘what will happen’ can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear.

Try these entrepreneur-style questions:

  • What might be different if you considered yourself to be inherently resourceful?
  • What one thing might work?
  • Who could you talk with that would open a new perspective?
  • For whatever challenge arises, what if you determined yourself to be capable of exploring options, engaging in new conversations, or finding a new way to overcome an issue or concern?

These were revealed as the mindsets of our entrepreneurs – a seeming confidence that whatever arises can be surmounted or navigated through discovery, curiosity, conversation and action. What might it take for you to have that kind of faith in yourself?  What story can you generate that ignites a new possibility for you to re-invent yourself and your business in this time?

  1. Stop Asking ‘Why’ and ‘How’

Both of these questions can lead you to an introspective view based on your old world.  COVID-19 is a new world.  The question of ‘why’ throws you back into a world of indulgent reflection and unhelpful moods.  The question ‘how’ has you looking through your traditional lens.  New norms, new patterns and new concerns are emerging in this very time. Many of the emerging thoughts are giant leaps forward.

So, instead of ‘why’, ask yourself “what should I pay attention to, right now?”

The very act of this question will have you step back from your current context to reveal other trends, new information, new data, new patterns, new conversations that will help reveal possibilities you may not have seen previously. Scan different industries and what they’re doing right now, look beyond the coming 2 months and see what might present in 6, 12 and 24 months and embrace these possibilities as openings for a new future.

  1. Become a Deliberate Observer of Possibility

In the past few weeks, the entrepreneurs we know have taken some space. They have balanced an initial ‘reaction to hustle’ with space to rest, think, reflect and to observe the way they are ‘seeing the world’.  This is a powerful place to generate new ideas from.  Aware of the prejudice you bring as an observer, but also, in celebration of the power of being a ‘different’ kind of observer.

Try observing yourself in pursuit of possibility, with a mindfulness to move beyond ‘habitual thinking’ to ‘rest in’ new ways of thinking and interacting. Give yourself the space! Consider challenging yourself to adopt a deliberate mindset that has you observe ‘personal’ and ‘business shifts’ and begin to tune into the new questions that arise naturally. You might consider trying new ways of seeing yourself as an actor and influencer in the world. You might talk with new contacts in new locations, including overseas in new markets.  You might give yourself the gift of down time for experimentation and learning.

What gift might you give yourself in this time?

  1. Attend to the Emerging Concerns of Your Clients

It can be easy to fall into an indulgent pattern of thinking, particularly if your business has collapsed, or ceased trading.  We understand.  Consider moving beyond your personal concerns to attend to the concerns of your clients and customers. This can offer a shift in perspective.  What are the concerns of your customers? How can you help them more clearly articulate their concerns? What challenges can you support them with? How can you focus on what’s emerging as a space of re-invention and new offers?  What conversations might you initiate to start to understand these concerns more deeply?  How can you move on prototyping the things you see as possible?

There’s no room for perfectionism in this pursuit, so instead consider inviting a lighter, more buoyant ‘you’ to your creative time.

What mood does this evoke?

  1. Look for Patterns and Trends

Lifting your focus from your current concerns, to understanding the concerns of your customers and clients has an amplifying effect. Instead of looking at isolated incidences of impacts from COVID and disruption, see if you can reveal broader patterns and trends within and beyond your sector.

In the fifth week of COVID, we noticed a shift in our client group.  The novelty of Working from Home began to wear off.  Frustrations and gripes borne of both fatigue and previously existing relationship issues began to emerge.  These issues were less visible in the immediate response to COVID, but still persist as underlying limitations, making the need for attention just as critical, if not more critical now, given the extra pressures COVID creates.

For you, what underlying patterns and trends make you and your business offer more relevant than ever?

How could you discover more?  Who might you connect with?  What requests or offers might you make? How might these patterns and trends play out as future barriers and possibilities for you and your customer?

Our intention with these 5 tips is to shift you from a sense of confusion and complacency to a new sense of enquiry and curiosity, from which you can re-create your world. We’d like to thank our community of loyal and tenacious advocates for their persistence and remarkable determination in this time.

We’d love to hear what changes for you in response to these provocations.

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