When we are going through tough times, we often say: “If I had known how tough it was going to be, I would not have ventured down this path.”
I do not agree with this way of assessing things. I believe that we should go into situations with our eyes wide open.
We need to be open to the lucrative and easy times, and open to accepting and learning from the tough times. I couldn’t agree more with Dolly Parton, who once said: “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
When I think about entrepreneurship, there are five types of capital that will hold you in good stead:
1. You have to believe and hope that things will get better in the future. If you do not have hope, it is very tough to see past the “darkness”. If you see a light at the end of the dark tunnel you are travelling through, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to believe that the light you see isn’t an oncoming train.
I think it is important to have a spirit of abundance so that you are always seeing the glass half-full rather than half-empty. You must be realistic and understand that life is a roller coaster. It has ups, but it also has downs. It is good to appreciate that there is enough goodwill and goodness to go around.
2. Passion is something you live, feel, act. If you do not have passion for what you are doing, the tough walk will seem insurmountable. When you are passionate about whatever it is that you are involved in, every hurdle spurs you on and energises you.
3. Living is not for sissies. Being an entrepreneur takes courage. It is not always easy to go against the grain or to be true to yourself. I believe in daring to be different, in doing it your way. As long as you are rooted in respect for your fellow beings and hurt people less than you love them, go for it. Remember that the toes you step on today may be the feet you kiss tomorrow. Play it safe and treat everybody with respect and dignity.
BE A PIONEER
4. Every human being is a pioneer. No one has been you in this life. With every breath that you draw, you are walking into the unknown. If you can just have the guts to show up in your life every day, that is all you need. Being a pioneer is not the preserve of some, but of all of us.
5. You can also call it endurance. It’s about your ability to recover quickly from illness, change or misfortune. A client once used the example of experiencing turbulence during a flight and getting the instruction to fasten your seat belt. When there is turbulence, we do not jump out of the plane. We fasten our seat belts, and hope and trust that, after a while, calm will return and all will be well again. In turbulence, there is chaos, uncertainty and a potential crisis. The challenge is to keep your emotions in check. Along your entrepreneurial journey, it is important to be able to withstand great strain without falling apart. To be resilient.
As tough times are a given, you have to focus on what you need to do and how to traverse a terrain that is fraught with challenges, but also laden with possibilities and potential successes. Success requires you to intentionally design your business to succeed – on your terms, according to your standards. You need to walk into it with your eyes open to the realities of what it really takes to make it at whatever it is you are gunning for. Be prepared to enter a realm that’s full of risk and unknowns. Be prepared to enter a space that will require that you learn how to flexibly charter your business despite many blockages, hurdles and hiccups. It will take guts, patience, persistence, strategy and courage to accomplish your goal.
Msomi is CEO of Busara Leadership Partners