Preparing your mind and body for entrepreneurship
After spending seven years in retail as the founder and former CEO of JOOR, the largest online wholesale commerce platform, I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is no walk in the park. But it’s also very fulfilling. There’s no playbook for growing a company, and each entrepreneur’s journey is one-of-a-kind. But in my seven years at JOOR I learned a lot about how health — both mental and physical health — is intrinsic to success.
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone — and we don’t always succeed. However, strengthening our minds along with our bodies deflects stress and prevents the absorption of it when external factors such as bad news, bad decisions or bad hires happen. Here are five strategies that I use in my own personal journey as an entrepreneur:
1) Will + Intention + Discipline
The mind is a better servant than a master. We need to train it to think a certain way, and if we don’t, our mind is left to its own devices. It can latch on to our insecurities, fears, and anxieties. So we actually have to provoke intention. Without this, our subconscious is left to think whatever it wants — positive OR negative.
Intention — which is something you want to accomplish today or over a long period of time, alone is very powerful. It sends a message to your subconscious mind, a mantra that gets replayed even when you’re sleeping.
When we add will and discipline to the equation, we’re able to turn intention into a reality. If I set the intention to meditate every day for ten minutes, that may or may not happen. I need will and discipline to manifest my goal. Will is really just self belief. Without discipline, I won’t receive the full benefits of meditation unless I do it consistently. The discipline part is setting my alarm at 6 am, getting organized, putting my headphones near my bed, picking out my guided meditation, listening to it and then zoning in. Doing this over and over improves my subconscious to handle more difficult tasks in other areas of my life.
2) You are what you consume
We’ve all heard “you are what you eat.” It’s garbage in and garbage out, but this doesn’t only apply to food — it applies to all of your inputs. What we read, what we watch, who we talk to, what we listen to — it all makes an impression on the decisions we make, the opinions we have and the energy we bring.
If we drink in the toxicity, then it manifests in our day-to-day. Startups require mental clarity, sound judgment and precise operation. Without the brightness of the space surrounding us, we can’t make those decisions well. As entrepreneurs, we need to control and be in front of what we’re consuming in our day-to-day lives, both with the physical and spiritual. And if you do soak in the negativity, you have to clean it out. Sweat it out, talk it out, get it out. Your mind may forget the toxicity, but your body never does. It’s in your hunched shoulders, your aching lower back your cramped up legs. Your body never forgets.
3) Action is everything
We’re a results-driven society. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed in our workplace and spread ourselves too thin. One way to overcome this prevailing difficulty is to dissect a goal into a series of actionable steps. A couple of years ago, I set a goal of running a seven minute mile. But there was one problem: It was cold outside. Running on the treadmill was so boring, so I decided to mix it up with weight training. Soon that got boring, so I added yoga and dance. And then because I was working out so much, I switched to a plant-based diet to get more energy. Somewhere along the way, the seven minute mile goal became less important and all the actions I was taking to reach that goal carried a greater meaning.
Fast forward four months. I had dropped my cholesterol levels, my blood pressure, lost weight, gained muscle tone, was smiling a ton more, had better posture and ran that seven minute mile. If we optimize for actions rather than than the outcome, what you had planned might change into something else — something even better or grander than you imagined.
There is a fine line between having unwavering confidence and healthy skepticism regarding what you’re building. When our thoughts wander to, “I don’t know if I can do this” and “Why are my outcomes not as strong as my predictions,” we need to pause, identify and acknowledge the mind’s chatter that’s saying we’re not enough.
In the past, I’ve relied on external motivation to overcome obstacles. In fact, most of us are trained to rely on our parents, friends, competition, Instagram and a whole bevy of resources to motivate us. The problem with relying on external factors is that they’re fleeting and continuing to rely on them is exhausting. Think of how much easier it would be to rely on yourself for the same motivation you are seeking from the outside world.
They say in management, to motivate anyone to do anything you have to influence their emotions. You can’t really motivate someone if they don’t decide internally that they want to do it. The same is true for yourself. Identify what is holding you back and isolate that limitation, then create a talk track to reverse that thinking. Instead of saying “I wish I had more time,” try saying “I can make time.” There isn’t a single person who would say they have extra time; the problem occurs when we forget that we have the choice.
Learn how to talk to yourself, because it works. It gives you back control and it also trains your subconscious to operate in this paradigm.
I’ve failed so many times. A few months ago, I was at the gym and I was lifting really heavy weights. My trainer is always pushing me to lift heavier and heavier. So I took two 20 pound weights, and I of course dropped one on my nose. The impact was so hard that I had to two black eyes for a couple of weeks. It took me a while and some pain (literally) to realize that every single failure or setback is a good thing. They are the stepping stones to making us stronger, better and grittier. The key here is finding a way to absorb the setback in order to make ourselves stronger, not weaker. Take the lessons, leave the baggage and continue thriving.
Don’t dwell too much on setbacks. They are there to teach you lessons and re-calibrate if you are heading down the wrong path. If you push through them, they’ll make you stronger when you come out on the other side, because where we start is never where we imagined we would end up.