Any entrepreneur will tell you: it’s almost impossible to create a solution that works on the first try. Resilience isn’t just essential for entrepreneurial success. It’s essential for your success. But how can you cultivate it?
You’re probably familiar with the story of The Little Engine That Could. Saddled with a huge load, she slowly made her way over the mountain, repeating the phrase “I think I can” over and over until she made it to the other side.
Children’s books have a way of getting to the heart of the matter.
Resilience is the ability to keep going. To push through in the face of adversity and rebound in the face of failure. A 2014 survey by the American College Health Association found that levels of resilience in college students—the employees of tomorrow— are falling. And that was before the crises of 2020.
Resilience is a skill you can learn and strengthen. Entrepreneurs are experts in resilience out of necessity. When you set out to do something no one has done before, you learn to become friends with failure. But the source of their resilience isn’t simple necessity. It’s their belief.
These two entrepreneurial mindsets, resilience and belief, go hand in hand. They’re not just important for start-ups. Any leader who solves the problems of customers stands much to gain by leveraging the power of belief to grow in resilience.
Your beliefs define the constraints of your resilience. They set your limits. I’m not in favor of living in a kind of Pollyanna optimism that denies reality. But, in the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” You won’t win a race you expect to lose. You can’t create a successful product if you quit after the first prototype fails. And you can’t push through challenges if you’re convinced you don’t have what it takes to persevere.
You need new beliefs. Here are three that entrepreneurs rely on. They can kindle your resilience—empowering you to move forward whatever curveballs life throws your way.
“This problem needs to be solved.”
The only businesses that stay in business are those that solve real problems of real people. Perhaps you’re not delivering a huge load to the other side of a mountain, but solving someone’s problem is the reason behind the work you do. That problem might even be the reason you started the business or took the job. In the face of discouragement, setback, and defeat, you need to be reminded of the reason for your work. In the words of my wife, Gail, “People lose their way when they lose their why.”
“My solution solves the problem.”
You don’t just need to believe in the importance of the need. You need to be convinced of the power of your solution. Ken Davis, author of Secrets of Dynamic Communication, tells the story of attending an expo. While drifting from table to table, he noticed a young man demonstrating a particular product. He half-listened for a moment, then drifted on. That would have been the end of the story. But on his way out, Ken passed the same table a second time. This time, someone else was demonstrating the product, and Ken was riveted. The scripts were identical. What had changed? Ken learned moments later that the second man had founded the company. He believed in his solution, so his audience did, too.
Your conviction in the power of your solution won’t just help you sell to your customers. It will help you sell to yourself when life has knocked the wind out of you. Your customers have a problem, and you have the solution—which fuels your why.
“I can overcome setbacks.”
Beyond the magnitude of the need and viability of your solution, you need to believe in yourself. Specifically, you need to believe in your ability to keep going. Being resilient requires believing that you are. You can do hard things. You can overcome challenges. You can dust yourself off after failure, after embarrassment, after loss. You can find a new way forward. You haven’t lost until you admit defeat.
The cost of failure is high. But the cost of giving up too soon, on the brink of success, is even higher. Press on.
Say, “I think I can,” and you probably will.
To learn more about how to adopt entrepreneurial mindsets that will promote your success and help rebuild our economy, order my new book, Entrepreneurs Will Save The World.