May the bridges I burn light the way
I talked a little bit with Paul about commitment last week. No, he wasn't having marital issues – he was feeling burnt out.
Almost all of my clients at one time or another have considered just giving up. In fact, according to Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada statistics, about 4 per cent of small business (those with under 99 employees) fail. After 5 years, that number goes up to 30 per cent.
The weakness of an easy exit
While there are many factors to those various failures, a lack of commitment is the most tragic. It's not a lack of ability – it's the blinking of your emergency exit tempting an entrepreneur with the easier way out. That extra temptation, with all the normal trials that come along with starting your own business, can turn into the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
I understand why people leave back doors open just in case your new efforts don't pay off – it keeps you and your family safe. But as safe as it makes you feel, it creates this constant temptation by making it easier to bail when things start getting tough.
Commitment – an entrepreneurial superpower
The main benefit that comes from commitment is the ability to push past your previous limits. When the choice is fail or be better than you ever have before, the choice is a pretty easy one. Putting in those extra hours, changing around your schedule, or doing that thing you really hate always looks a lot better when the other choice is a complete failure
For Paul, that meant prospecting. Now, Paul's not much of a talker and that means prospecting for him is the worst. He hates the very idea of it. But it's that commitment, that willingness to burn your bridges behind you that pushes you to tackle even the things you hate. Because, after all, choosing to fail feels much worse.
Renewing your commitment
For Paul, we talked about renewing his commitment, because when we start to get tired, failure can sometimes look like rest. Instead, we took the time to map out his choice for success and make little goals along the way that will help encourage him.
The good news is when he tackles these problems, the ones he hates the thought of, things begin to change. When you begin to see success, eventually your feelings follow you. Soon, you don't hate prospecting (or whatever your most hated entrepreneurial chore is), it's just another part of pursuing your passion – and that is always enjoyable.
So, if you feel like you're losing that commitment, and that red EXIT sign is drawing your gaze more and more, take the time to renew that commitment. Make a plan, gather the right people around you, and tackle those problems head-on. At first, it's going to suck, which is why you need those people to encourage you and keep you on track.
But eventually, and probably without you even realizing, that pursuit will become a joy. That's when success comes.