An entrepreneur shares his best tips for staying strong under pressure


Remember why you’re doing this in the first place.


Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, some may say that you become accustomed to pressure as you progress through your career.

To a certain extent, this is true. The most unflappable leaders develop all sorts of coping strategies, forged in the cauldron of potential failure.

However, for an entrepreneur, who starts out with the certainty that there is a 75% chance of failure, these pressures are often the direct cause of business failure rather than a side-effect of it.

Elon Musk spoke in 2015about the strains of entrepreneurship. When you are so emotionally engaged with your work, your brain likens business failure to a pseudo-death experience, and it certainly isn’t hard-wired to cope.

“You have to put in incredible amounts of efforts and huge amounts of stress — and it’s much more painful than most people realize. And most companies die. On a certain level in your brain, your brain — we didn’t evolve, like, with companies; we evolved to respond to real death. And even though a company’s death is not real, it’s not like someone is physically dying, your brain doesn’t quite understand that on the limbic system level. So it’s really sort of painfully stressful. You probably don’t want to go through that more than once.”

Everyone has a different relationship with pressure. Some are motivated by it, some like to nip it in the bud, while other prefer to delegate it.

Below are a few tips that have helped me in my own journey:

Organize yourself.

Inspirational author Zig Ziglar suggested that you should be able to manage yourself before you can manage others, and, in a similar vein, you should be able to manage yourself before you can manage your business. If your head is not clear, there is no way that your decisions will be consistent, and this will lead to unpredictable outcomes.

Recognize your triggers.

It is worth talking to a trusted advisor, like a spouse, friend, or a coach, about what seems to cause you the most stress. There may be certain events or feelings that regularly cause you to worry. When you realize what is causing problems, you can take action to address it.

Remember your “why.”

Stress tends to take us to an uncomfortable place. It dominates the mind, and it is all too easy to forget our “why.” You might be in business to make a difference in the world, to help others to develop, or simply to provide a future for your family. When you lose sight of those simple things, stress can overcome you pretty quickly.

Stress prevention.

Just stay at home in bed — that is a stress-free environment. Tempting as it may seem, this isn’t an option for any of us, but it is possible to make decisions which will allow you to avoid certain pressure points. You can delegate work to others before things get to be too much. You can set aside time in the day to switch off, go for a walk or listen to some music.

Practice mindfulness.

write about mindfulness a fair amount. Stress happens when your head is occupied with worries that are rarely related to the present moment. If your head is elsewhere when you need to be “present” for a decision, you won’t make the best decision and add to your future stresses.

Learn to lose.

Any moderately ambitious person understands that you won’t always win. Learning from your failures will make you a stronger person, and there is a reason why many of the leading figures in world business have considerable blemishes in their careers. If losing comes naturally to you, like water off a duck’s back, coping with it is that much easier.

Here’s a bit more on dealing with stress and pressure from one of my recent interviews:

Ultimately, the best way to alleviate stress is to share your troubles with someone else. Talking about your worries is like releasing a pressure valve, and it will always give you that extra sense of perspective. When things are starting to get the best of you, an external perspective is sometimes all you need. Often, things are not as bad as you think.

[Image: Unsplash User Joshua Earle]

Copyright (c) 2016 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved. 

Original article @BusinessInsider.

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