One of the hardest lessons in the entrepreneurial world is that you’re not going to succeed all the time. This is a punishing reality for the entrepreneurs who place a lot of their self-esteem in the knowledge that they’re smart enough to succeed in a difficult field and that they’re going to be able to use their brains to get through almost anything. However, it should be noted that the business world really is notoriously fickle and that even the smartest and the most skilled people are going to fall at some point.
American culture likes to talk endlessly about the myth of the ‘bootstraps’ and that people can use their brains and work ethic to overcome any obstacle. It isn’t true. This is a belief that is very harmful to poor people. It’s also a belief that is very harmful to wealthy people. It tells poor people that their poverty is their own fault and it tells wealthy people that if they fail, it is always their own fault. It says that people have complete control over their own circumstances, which has never been true no matter how much people want to believe that it is true.
Getting rid of the bootstrap myth is the first part of understanding that you can handle defeat. Your defeat is not necessary a reflection of your abilities. Even if it is, your abilities are not innate and you actually can become more skilled at being an entrepreneur and more skilled at being a successful businessperson. The belief in innate ability and absolute personal control has become something of a cached thought for a lot of people.
Once you realize that your entire sense of self and your entire sense of your abilities are not truly on the line each and every time you do anything in business, it is going to be that much more likely that you will succeed. Plenty of entrepreneurs struggle just because they have internalized so many of these bad beliefs that it keeps them from moving forward. This does not have to be the case, and many of them can pull themselves towards greater success by adopting the right attitude. In this case, adopting the right attitude means recognizing the limits of one’s own abilities regardless of how impressive they are, and recognizing that not everything is within one’s control.
Defeat is also frequently temporary. If you’ve been defeated in business, you learned something in business. You have experience. People who get fired from their interminable nine to five jobs have a lot of work experience as a result of working in these jobs, and they are able to capitalize on all of it in spite of the fact that they did not ultimately succeed in that one position. You should think of your own entrepreneurial experience in the same way, and from there, you should be able to actually use it in a way that is going to work for you.
Entrepreneurial work is hard. There’s a reason why a lot of people don’t have the courage for it and a lot of people stick with the stability of nine to five jobs that they hate in spite of the fact that they continue to hate them and nothing ever moves forward. They don’t want to face the possibility of defeat and they don’t want to take a risk on a business. Accept that you can’t control everything, turn your defeats into something valuable, and you’ll be that much more likely to genuinely get ahead at some point.