If you’ve met me or seen my picture, you may have noticed that I am blessed with hair that’s straight as a ruler. Unfortunately, when I was a little girl, Toni home permanents came up with a solution—Tonette for children.
After it appeared on the market, my mother enthusiastically administered this smelly monstrosity to my hair at regular intervals. When I would protest, she’d remind me, “You must suffer to be beautiful.”
It became one of my mother’s favorite mantras and I suspect the message spilled over into other areas of life. How dare I feel proud about any accomplishment that came easily?
While I no longer believe that suffering is a necessity when it comes to personal achievement, I do know that worthwhile endeavors usually involve a challenge—or several.
Nevertheless, I suspect that too many of us continue to make things harder than necessary when we’re going for a dream. I also suspect that we’re often unaware of those behaviors that slow us down and add drudgery.
How can we be sure we’re making it harder than it needs to be? Here are five surefire ways that can burden the entrepreneur’s journey.
1. Avoid investing in ourselves. Anyone who starts a business signs up for a learning adventure, but those who never bother to attend a seminar or travel to a conference are making their own success a low budget priority.
And it’s not just information that needs to be acquired. As author Earnie Larsen points out, “You can’t outperform your own self-image.”
For most of us, acquiring a healthy self-image requires an investment of time, money and assistance from pros.
2. Pamper our excuses. We’ve all got them and when we repeat them often enough, they begin to feel welcome.
That’s only a short step away from believing them. The moment we do that, our excuses assume a position of power.
It’s hard to move ahead when our excuses have lodged themselves around our ankles.
3. Never ask for help. In a recent post, Seth Godin said, “Too often, businesses (and freelancers) focus on making it on their own. In fact, the secret of being indispensable is making it together.”
Colorado Free University founder John Hand believed that for everyone who has a problem, someone in the community has the solution. Whether the community is geographic or virtual, we make it harder for ourselves if we fail to find those helpful resources and listen to their advice.
4. Ignore the successful. The world is full of people who are willing to share their experiences, lessons and techniques.
The best way to keep from following in their footsteps is to avoid putting yourself in their presence to begin with, but should you find yourself in the same room, use it as an exercise to compare yourself to them rather than learn from them.
5. Scorn inspiration. One of the best kept secrets around is that inspiration is available to all of us, but it needs to be cultivated. In order to do that, we need to know what inspires us—and take ourselves to those people and places on a regular basis.
As Mary Pipher observes, “Inspiration is very polite. She knocks quietly and if we don’t answer, goes elsewhere.”
Inspiration, even at its quietest, helps us to feel more brilliant, more creative, more capable. When we undervalue it, we rob ourselves of its gifts.
It’s so much harder to succeed if we haven’t invited inspiration along as a companion.