Entrepreneurs should learn to give themselves a pat on the back

Entrepreneurship is a difficult journey, and unfortunately, for the most part of it, your strongest support and motivation to push through will only come from within — it comes from yourself.

If you’re waiting for someone — a client, an employee, a shareholder or even a partner — to tell you how great of a job you’ve done for validation, then you might end up disappointing yourself. In this line of career, more often than not, people around you expect you to give more than receive, and you need to get used to it if you want to keep your sanity.

As the entrepreneur, shareholders expect you to grow their money, clients expect you to provide the best experience, employees expect you to give them a great culture and good compensation, and partners expect you to know everything to achieve the company’s goals. At some point in time, you, as the entrepreneur, will fail one or two expectations of the people you deal with, and the default state of mind is to deem yourself a failure. But if you think about it, disappointing people would be inevitable because each group of people you deal with have their own set of interests, and some of these may contradict the interests of another stakeholder you have.

The key is to accept the fact that you will have to deal with unhappy campers from time to time, this is something you cannot control, especially when you have to make compromises for the good of the company. What you can control is how you take the hit, and react to such scenarios — you’ll be attacked and judged, and you have the choice to either respond negatively with anger or sorrow, or to take it in and challenge yourself on how to manage and reverse the situation positively.

Most people don’t understand the difficulties and the challenges of leading an organization — only because they haven’t led one themselves. It is easy for others to criticize you for the smallest mistake you make, tell you how disappointing your performance is, without realizing that a bigger repercussion may have been avoided because of the choices you make. People would always only see their side of the fence, without realizing that you, as an entrepreneur, are managing all sides of it. Once you have this realization, you can transition your mind from getting or sourcing motivation from other people, and leaning more toward motivation that comes from within yourself.

It also always helps to surround yourself with like-minded people, and these people may not necessarily be your friends for 10 years or close relatives. It is natural for people to have different experiences as they grow up, and you can’t expect everyone to understand your own journey and the problems you are encountering. You can’t expect the same empathy from a non-entrepreneur friend compared to another entrepreneur that you may have only known recently. For this reason, you have to build your network of people who are undergoing a somewhat similar journey you are going through. You’d be surprised how common your problems are and how your situation is not unique to yourself.

You need to learn how to value and measure up yourself. With the understanding that it may never come from someone else, one of the key things I started to do is to set personal KPIs for myself, and measure how I am improving as a leader as time goes by. And when I know I am able to achieve or even overachieve my targets, I give myself a pat on the back. There are times when I treat myself to a nice steak dinner, or reward myself with a gadget I’ve been meaning to buy.

As entrepreneurs, we always want to see our ventures, our babies, see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the starting phase of any enterprise really takes a massive toll on any budding entrepreneur, and adding layers of human emotions and conflicts coming from your stakeholders can really cause for one to totally give up and just move on. By being self-aware of your performance and learning how to self-reward, you will have a lesser tendency to get burned out with your venture. At the end of the day, different people will always have a different perception of you, whether good or bad, but nobody in the world can judge you better than yourself. So the next time you know you’ve solved a critical issue in your business, don’t wait for someone else to tell you that you did a great job, go ahead, and pat yourself on the back!

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