Many of us do entrepreneurship as though it’s merely a series of challenges that either need to be faced or swept under the rug! Even when we feel like we’re addressing them, we often worry about them much more than necessary.

Problems appear to persist because we go looking for them, even when they are not right in front of us. We filter our experiences based on the belief that we have a particular problem, and we unconsciously censor anything that doesn’t support this belief, including the fact that the problem is not actually right here in front of our face.

You might have seen this happen with someone you know. This person talks about their problem often but every time you see them, there is no indication the problem is even there. They are only telling you about it, not experiencing it directly.

On the few occasions when the problem actually does occur, they say things like “I always make a mess of things,” Or, “I never know what to do.”

Ironically, when we use words like “I never” or “I always,” we tend to grossly exaggerate the frequency of something occurring because of our emotional attachment. By doing so, we simply reinforce our problems which cause us to suffer.

Now, what if all our problems are just memories?

Most of us believe that thinking about our problems and wanting to change them will bring change, so we keep on doing it. But if you examine your own experience, I think you’ll find that positive change most often comes when you let go of all your thinking and wanting.

Also Read: Pharma entrepreneur Thomas Miklavec shares his journey on expanding his startup across SEA

The personality trait “grit” denotes the disposition to pursue long-term goals with sustained effort, zeal, and interest over time, or in short: effortful persistence.

Grittier individuals work more strenuously to achieve their long-term goals; they persist in the face of setbacks or plateaus in progress, and they maintain their focus on these goals without being easily distracted by other, more short-term, or less important goals.

For this reason, people with high grit are more successful in achieving their goals and in attaining excellence in competitive environments.

The problem arises when we need to pivot our startup strategy. Are we agile enough to let go of our “grit” and change direction, as and when the twists and turns of entrepreneurship call for it?

Letting go is not a mere decision, failure or defeat. It is not submission or punishment, neither is it resignation or the decision to be comfortable with our status quo, or forgetfulness.  Nor is it an ending or a bad thing, nor a state we can will ourselves into.

Rather,

  • Yielding and letting go is a high-level capacity in psychological development.
  • We could say that letting go is an emptying of oneself, toward a state of inner non-acquisition. We could say that letting go is not a strategy; it is the profound absence of strategies. We could say that it is waking up to realise that all strategies are ineffective– we don’t know how to do it and we don’t know the way. More effort, more doing or more planning might be counter-productive.
  • When we truly let go, we don’t know if what’s to come will be better or worse. We accept that we cannot think or see our way through where we are.
  • When we let go, we give up trying to control the situation. We all want predictability and control, even though they are impossible to attain. Without them, we experience fear. By letting go, we give up the illusion of control.
  • Inevitably, we are sometimes cheated or disappointed by business partners or stakeholders, which stirs negative emotions in us.  We have to find ways to let go. Nelson Mandela said that “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Letting go offers a neural path for forgiveness and thereby a remission from the suffering of holding on.
  • In letting go, there is clarity. When our efforts are no longer aimed at controlling the future or producing a certain result, we can experience the present moment directly, in a new and fresh way. We accept that the present is the only thing we have any real say about; we might as well pay attention to it. At this point, we enter into a new level of awareness and capacity.

The “how” of letting go is so counter to ego consciousness that it has to be directly taught, and it can only be taught by those who are familiar with the obstacles and have experienced surrender as the path to overcoming them.

The entrepreneurial journey is not subject to a mere passing on of objective information. It must be practised and learned, just like playing the guitar or mastering taekwondo.

Also Read: 5 lessons from 5 years as a millennial entrepreneur

Making the transition from job to entrepreneurship is an exercise in letting go. Traditional career and life paths are beginning to disappear for younger generations.

People are less able to plan, and by default, must live more in the present. They must learn to be more flexible to change and more open to opportunity.

  • Job is defined as an activity or task performed by an individual for earning salary or wages. Entrepreneurship is a calling that is carried on by a person for his entire life.
  • Job is a trip, but entrepreneurship is a journey.
  • In a job, you invest your time to earn money, but in entrepreneurship, you invest your time to pursue your lifelong ambition or dreams.
  • Job is held for a short term while entrepreneurship is an individual’s long-term goal.
  • Job requires education and skills. Entrepreneurship involves lifelong learning or continuous deepening and broadening of specialisation.
  • Job is when you work for a finite time for regular and secure income. Entrepreneurship is about innovation and boundary-less learning. Sometimes you don’t know whether it is morning or afternoon or night— you sleep late at night and wake up early just to learn and explore more.
  • When seeking a job, you brand yourself as a commodity. But in pursuing entrepreneurship, you are your own brand.
  • Job is a means to fulfil the needs of life ie. efficiency, but entrepreneurship is an end in itself — what a person endeavours until he retires ie. human worth.

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