When Life Gives You Lemons….. Make Lemonade
- April 3rd, 2020
- 5 mins READING TIME
A recent LinkedIn post by Steve Hui, founder of IFLYflat, demonstrates some great characteristics of entrepreneurship – the ability to think laterally when life gives you lemons. Kudos to him. Not only did he adapt his business model to changing market needs, but he has done so in a positive way to #payitforward.
This got me thinking about what we can learn from entrepreneurs – especially those who have gone on to achieve great things. What sets them apart from the rest of society? And how can we apply this learning to our own personal positions – right now and in the future?
By definition, an entrepreneur is;
“a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”
Quite a clinical description except for the word “hope”, which itself is described as :
“a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen”.
On the surface, the word ‘hope’ and its description, sound a bit nebulous, conjuring an image of passivity, like “Waiting for Godot” – waiting for something that will never happen.
But for an entrepreneur ‘hope’ is more than that. It is a word underpinned by action, one that is fueled by very powerful characteristic traits that conjure images of energy and vitality.
Whilst there are many different characteristics traits that can be used to describe entrepreneurs, for me the 5 most important are:
Resilience reflects your mental and internal strength. It’s the measure of how you handle stressful situations or setbacks and; most importantly how you overcome obstacles on the way to achieving your goals. It’s about how many times you pick yourself up when you’re knocked down.
Resilience is what sets true entrepreneurs apart from “wannabees”. It fuels the persistent belief in themselves or the kick-ass idea that is being nurtured. A bit like that dog that won’t give up its bone.
JK Rowling says:
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Before Harry Potter magically changed her life, she was on struggle-street, supporting her kids as a single mother on welfare. After five years of writing and rejection from a dozen different publishers, her resilience, perseverance and belief in Harry Potter propelled her into a household name.
Passion is the drive that compels one to keep going. It’s the emotional connection with your idea or belief that fuels a burning desire to forego all else – but not at the expense of others.
Steve Jobs set the greatest example of how passion can impact a business. In 1997, when Apple was facing bankruptcy, passion was the focus of his return speech to staff.
“Apple is not about making boxes for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. Apple is about something more. Its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”
Love of what you do
Without fail, if you love what you do, working hard becomes less onerous.
From a young boy, Walt Disney loved cartoons. He navigated his way through the advertising industry to build one of the biggest animation companies and theme parks in the world – simply by following a dream and doing what he loved.
His dreams gave him purpose and a reason to continue. He was a firm believer that all dreams could come true if we had the courage to pursue them. He was living proof that curiosity never killed the cat.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
For him, it all started with the love of drawing cartoons and a little mouse.
Success seldom happens overnight. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that the road to success was never straight. It is how they approached and navigated roadblocks that defined them.
Successful entrepreneurs are lateral thinkers. Their ability to think on their feet, means that challenges often present opportunities not previously considered. Whilst an end goal is required, successful entrepreneurs are optimistically open to the universe and changes in the direction of the wind.
The Virgin Group, founded in the 1970’s by Sir Richard Branson, is a perfect example of how lateral thinking led to a global empire straddling multiple business concepts. From producing magazines to records, recording studios and nightclubs, Sir Richard Branson built a connected business empire underpinned by his personal mantra;
“The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all!” “My mother taught me that I should not focus on past regrets, so with regards to business I don’t. My teams and I do not allow mistakes or failures to deter us. In fact, even when something goes wrong, we continue to search for new opportunities”.
They did not follow the money, the money followed them
What is evident from the entrepreneurs referenced above is that money was not their motivator when they started out. They loved what they did, and it was always with the end user or consumer in mind.
- Jobs was passionate about building tools that unleashed people’s personal creativity.
- JK Rowling is passionate about the power to imagine and how it can brighten your life.
- Walt Disney’s curiosity led him down many paths opening many new doors along the way.
- Richard Branson does not focus on the past, but rather on what the future holds.
These characteristics reside in each and every one of us – regardless of whether we are an employee or a self-employed entrepreneur.
How can we hone these characteristics and apply them in all that we do? Possibly this self isolation will give us all pause for some self introspection. Who knows where it may take us.
Stay safe. Stay connected.