Then there was the time when, on a Tuesday afternoon in February, we heard a plink plink, plink, dripping from the ceiling and two minutes later a six-foot strip of tin ceiling fell in and landed with a loud thud on our desks. We had to evacuate right away and relocate the entire company 10 days later with no notice. I wish they had WeWorks back then! We camped out in my advisor’s conference room for two weeks.
Then there was Hurricane Sandy, which decimated much of the New York area and brought pretty much all east coast consumer spending to a stand-still for about a month. Good thing we had some reserves to “weather” that one.
I won’t go on, though I could. I know you each have your own stories too!
It’s our response to those setbacks that separates the Beyoncés from the Rebecca Blacks. I know that the business world likes to draw a big, thick line between itself and the self-help industry. But why do you think some entrepreneurs make it and some don’t? That’s right, it’s their mindset.
Remember: You get to choose how you handle setbacks, regardless of how you feel about them
No one decides to start a business expecting things to run smoothly. Setbacks are part of the game. Potential investors may bow out. Your biggest clients may leave. You and your partner may disagree about the future and how to get there. Your distributors may go under. The mindset you have around those challenges truly has the power to make or break your success.
Founder, investor, and famed “Shark” Barbara Corcoran perfectly encapsulates what it means to be a successful entrepreneur:
Regardless about how you feel about the setback you face, you have the power to choose how you react. You can allow it to stop you in your tracks, or, you can develop a different mindset. The best antidote to letting a setback take you down is five simple words: Focus on what you want.
When you hit a setback, ask yourself what you really want
I recently went through my files and found a dog-eared manila folder. Not much significance in that until I opened it up and found all the documents I had created to promote my “Million Dollar Women Campaign”, a 10-week speaking and teaching tour across the U.S.. I had launched this in the spring of 2015, hoping to be on tour by the fall. I had made a power point, created a budget, mapped out the cities, identified the venues, and then pitched it to a bunch of different sponsors.
And guess how many takers I got? Not one! The campaign was a complete flop and I found myself going down that dangerous tunnel of “I’m not good enough” and no one cares about women having more success in business anyway and who am I to think I can go teach people?
I turned to my coach, Gina Mollicone-Long, when I felt like everything I had worked so hard for was now ending in a pathetic little so what. I told her all that I had tried to make happen, how disappointed I was, and what a failure I felt like. I thought she might recommend a book or something super top secret she only tells her favorite coaching clients, but instead she just said this: Focus on what you want. “Okay, but what do I do?” I asked her. And she said it again (maddening!): “Focus on what I want.”
So what did I want? I went back my personal “Why” and realized I wanted to help one million women reach one million in revenues by 2020. I wanted to keep working with ambitious women to help them grow their businesses. But if I was completely honest with myself, I didn’t really want a 10 week speaking tour as it would be more time away from my two boys (then 7 and 11) and I wasn’t sure about the revenue model or whether I’d even make enough money doing that. I knew I wanted the opportunity to speak with women entrepreneurs and help them develop the mindset, skillset, and network they would need to go big. But maybe the campaign wasn’t the only way to do that?
And that’s how I started planning the first-ever Million Dollar Women Summit instead. Here we are a year later and the Summit is happening, has attracted $100,000 in sponsorship and is going to achieve a lot of the goals I had when I designed my campaign!
If I had been totally attached to the “how” and not the “why”, I would still be stuffing my face with Haagen Dasz ice cream and complaining via text to my besties.
This article originally appeared on Julia Pimsleur’s blog.