Anirudh Narayan is a growth specialist that has helped over 1000 aspiring entrepreneurs and 50 startups in US, Latin America, Africa and Asia with launching their idea, reaching product-market fit and scale. He is also the author of Scale Smart: How To Get Your First 1000 Customers In India, a book focused on startup growth.
If you’re anything like me, you go through the sinusoidal motions of the entrepreneurship journey rather swiftly. One day you feel like you’re falling apart, and just the next instant, you feel like you’re going to take over the world. Entrepreneurship is tough––and it most certainly is emotionally draining.
I won’t lie to you, it can be exasperating. To counter this problem over the last few years, though, I have made a conscious effort of trying to stay balanced. This includes a seemingly ‘simple-in-theory-but-difficult-to-pull-off’ combination of altering my mindset and practicing some activities every day. They’ve changed my life for the better.
This is something that I picked up from Tim Ferris's TED Talk. Ferris has written five bestseller books, is worth $100 million and has invested in multiple startups. What even the enlightened are unaware of is that he has also had over 50 panic attacks and numerous episodes of depression. One of the things that really helped him get out of this limbo, he says, was to define his fears. And not just the fear of failure, which all entrepreneurs share. No, we’re talking about defining your worst fears––all of them––not just to prevent them, but to be proactive when you deal with them. List them down on a sheet on paper and stick it on a bulletin board and trust me, the clarity is liberating.
Create an Achievement Manifesto
We all have those days when we feel dejected or insecure. When life seems like it’s falling apart, you tend to forget things you’ve achieved in the past. When you’re low on confidence, creating an achievement manifesto helps you get going. » Write down all the things that you’ve achieved since you were a kid. It could be first place in an elocution competition, the first big order you landed or the amount of money you’ve saved. Or maybe you scaled the Everest, got featured in the newspaper, and managed to tick things off your bucket list sooner than you thought you would. Whatever it is, all of it goes on the list.
» While writing the Achievement Manifesto, you will realise that you’re in the top 0.1 to 5 percent of the world’s population. Think about it: You have a roof over your head, you’re making decent money, you probably have family and friends who love you very much and you may have an education that has helped. How many people in the world can say that?
Remember, you’re better than you think
Another thing you can and must do is convincing yourself that you’re more than enough, everyday. Growing up, we receive a ton of validation from our parents and everyone around us. As we get older, the validation has to come from within. It’s important to note, however, that what you tell yourself can kill you or make you stronger. For example, if you constantly tell yourself that you’re getting slaughtered at work, you’re only convincing yourself that you don’t like your job. Thus, your body responds accordingly, and you end up falling sick. However, if you believe that the universe is on your side, you have a more balanced approach to life and work, where your insecurities don’t kick in and you function with ease. It might be too simple to be true, but it’s basic psychology.
Never be afraid to be vulnerable. It’s imperative that we create a dialogue about what’s really bothering us. It might seem difficult or pointless at times. Try and find a mentor to guide you or simply open up to your spouse, family or friends and tell them when the going gets tough. It is then that you’ll realise the kind of support system you have, that will help you weather any storm. And when it falls into place, you won’t believe how vulnerability can actually be such a strength.
Form a routine
» Listen to motivational audiobooks, podcasts or just random clips on YouTube for at least 10 minutes a day. You could start with Tony Robbins - Law of attraction coaching, Mind Valley or Tim Ferris, and explore other content creators in the market.
» Include a 30-minute workout everyday; this is the most important one, because you need to let those endorphins flow. In his book Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink says, “Anything I do long term, I do at the start of the day, and anything I do short term, I push it to later.” Staying healthy has to be a long-term goal, because your physical health is connected to your mental health. A ton of Indian startup heads lead an extremely imbalanced life, and proudly say that they don’t hesitate to put in 18 hours of work everyday. In truth, all you actually need to do is to figure out a way to be more productive and more balanced and you won’t burn out.
» Write a journal. The things you could make entries about include: Data dump, which includes penning down whatever’s on your mind; your frustrations, or things you’re grateful for––born in a certain country, your privileges, the wonderful people in your life, and even the role entrepreneurship plays in your life everyday. And lastly, do mention your vision for the year, so that you’re always consciously aware if what you want to achieve in 2019.
Gaining perspective is important, and it’s something I picked up from Gary Vaynerchuk (you can follow him on Twitter). As entrepreneurs, it’s easy to be negative, and say things like ’Oh I don’t have a lot of money’, ‘Oh this person’s doing a lot better than I am’, ‘Oh this sucks’. Well, switching perspectives helps you stay connected to your roots––or gives you a reality check. You can gain that by visiting an old-age home, helping the homeless or just volunteering at a school. You’ll start making it less about you and the fact that you’re giving back will make you feel better as well. When you realise that the world outside your little bubble is not easy, and people aren’t as privileged as you are, it really does change your perspective for the better.
Remember the tradeoffs
It’s also pertinent to remember that life is all about tradeoffs and you chose this path of entrepreneurship. The upsides include fame, the opportunity to express your creativity, and the ability to live your life the way you want to. The downside is that you might fail––and that’s okay too. The only thing you have to remember is that if you’re not happy, you always have the chance of walking away from it all––and that’s not a privilege many people have.