It’s Time To Burn Some Bridges
Everyone thinks that burning bridges is a horrible thing. But when you’re an entrepreneur in the start up phase of a business, burning bridges is not only a good thing – it’s a necessity for success.
As you cross the bridge over the great divide from employee to entrepreneur, you must burn the bridge left behind or else you’ll find yourself constantly distracted, looking back over your shoulder.
Burning bridges keeps you from back-stepping into past illusions of safety and grandeur.
When I talk about burning bridges, I’m not advocating that you write off old colleagues or telling an old boss to go jump. What I am talking about is firmly saying ‘no’ to those nagging options that keep appearing which only serve as tests to your entrepreneurial resolve.
It’s Time To Grow Up
Consider a toddler who’s learning how to crawl.
With each step, he strays further and further from his comfort zone in his quest for independence. But once he crosses a threshold to a new room, he realizes ‘momma’ isn’t in sight and goes scurrying back to safety. Once he discovers she’s actually there, patiently waiting for him, he starts the process all over again.
This tireless zigzag pattern of reassurance works great for a child who’s in the process of flexing his independent muscles, but this fear-based pattern can wreak havoc on success when you’re an entrepreneur.
It All Boils Down To Commitment
Until you’re fully committed to success, you’re never going to grow your business efficiently and effectively because you’ll lack focus, constantly question yourself and ponder too many ‘what if’ scenarios instead of moving forward quickly, with resolve.
In an old Charlie Rose interview about who is most likely to succeed, Paul Graham (co-founder of Y Combinator which funds startups) indicated that “there are some people who just get what they want in the world. If you want to start a startup, you have to be one of those people. You can’t be passive and wishy-washy.”
He goes on to offer the five keys to entrepreneurial success:
- mental flexibility
- naughtiness (someone with a gleam in their eye; you don’t want obedient employee types)
- friendship (founders who are already friends)
Notice how determination was #1. Make no mistake about it, becoming truly committed – in spite of the risks involved – is one of the hardest challenges you need to face before you can truly move forward. An entrepreneur, by definition, is a risk-taking businessperson. They are by nature daredevils – the Evil Kneivels of the business world, if you will. They’re constantly pushing the limits of safety, getting out of their comfort zones and taking risks to grow their business.
As entrepreneurs move forward with this daredevil mindset, failure is an almost constant companion on their journey.
Failure Is Your Friend
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘fail fast and fail often.’ Although rarely intended, failure should almost certainly be expected. Too many people are afraid to fail, but those failures should be viewed as learning opportunities on your path towards success. You’ll experience lots of mini-failures during the startup phase when you’re testing the waters in a big way.
When failure starts showing up, it’s easy to run back to your old, safe life which once existed. Security blankets appear in a variety of ways: a tempting corporate job offer which looks like the safer bet, obtaining a not-so great loan just to give you some breathing room or taking on even more dreaded consulting work that really only serves to keep your eye off the prize and your time in the tank.
Pretty soon, the mere distraction of looking over your shoulder to make sure there’s a safer option available starts to become a liability. With each retreat back to the illusion of safety, you lose your energy. You lose momentum. You lose focus.
Keep Your Eye On The Prize
We’re led to believe that being uncomfortable is a bad thing. But I encourage you to consider the alternative. Being uncomfortable may be just what you need to propel yourself forward when many others give up. Are you tired, exhausted, and broke? Have you completely run out of gas? Good.
Get out of your comfort zone. Burn those bridges. Commit.
Trailmap to Success
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