When I was a youngster, I fancied becoming a boxer. I lived down the street from a trainer who agreed to train me and my buddy, Kevin in the Sweet Science.
This was like a dream come true. Our trainer had boxing gloves, headgear, all of the cool lingo. He even worked with real fighters.
I remember suiting up and dancing around the ring.
I threw some air punches.
I was terrific at battling the air.
Our match started and for the first 30 seconds of my fight, I was like Muhammed Ali. I easily floated past Kevin's best shots while peppering him with my own.
Then something happened.
I got hit. Hard. Right upside the head, as we used to say back in the day. I remember having three immediate and simultaneous thoughts:
(1) That really hurt! In fact, that could do permanent damage to me.
(2) Oh yeah; I had forgotten the other guy gets to hit back; and
(3) I quit!
All of these thoughts occurred in probably a fraction of a second. And in a matter of minutes, my boxing career was over. Well, what does that have to do with you?
At the start of most projects, like launching a business, you punch your project right in the mouth!
You set challenging goals, perhaps backed up by a system, a schedule and even some human accountability to keep you on track.
At the beginning of the boxing match (to stick with my analogy) you find that you're winning. You’re in control and your venture is bending to your will.
But after a round or two something happens. Your project has a mind of its own, and it punches you right back! You emerge with similar reactions to mine: pain and the swift realization that your opponent can counter-punch hard and fast, and this contest will not be an easy win. The temptation is to do as I did. Hang up your gloves. Quit! But for a true entrepreneur, that’s not really an option.
So, what do you do?
You wipe the blood from your mouth, and you fight on. You acknowledge that entrepreneurship or any other worthwhile goal you set for yourself is not going to lay down for you.
You will have to fight hard and smart to pull out a win.
The chart above illustrates the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Take a second to analyze it. The chart demonstrates that in any new undertaking, or a new challenge to a familiar one, you begin the journey with a high degree of confidence and enthusiasm. Like when I strapped on the head gear and jumped in the boxing ring.
The problem is that at the dawn of the new enterprise, you have a corresponding lack of knowledge. But you’re undaunted by your ignorance. You stand triumphantly atop “Mount Stupid,” high on enthusiasm…
Until you start dancing in the ring and get nailed with an upper cut. Mike Tyson once famously said, “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.”
As you “suck it up” and decide to stay in the fight, you find that your opponent gets seemingly stronger. With each consecutive round, you descend from “Mount Stupid” and into “The Valley of Despair.”
This is where your knowledge and your confidence are at extreme lows. For the entrepreneur, it’s where none of your sales strategies seem to work. You put in an enormous amount of time, but with little reward. You invest resources and money, but with hardly any return.
This is the valley where you’re most tempted to quit. To throw your hands in the air like Roberto Duran, when he infamously declared, “No mas,” meaning “No more” in surrendering a blistering fight to Sugar Ray Leonard.
But if you keep working at your craft, if you hang in the battle, something remarkable begins to emerge. As you weather the Valley of Despair and continue to grow your skillsets, you will begin to ascend. The lessons learned in the valley will propel you forward.
Your confidence will climb with your competence, and you will eventually crest another mountain–this time a Plateau of Sustainability. You will once again feel a high, but it won’t be enthusiasm alone. You will have some experience, satisfied clients, data-driven results, and battle scars to support your convictions. You will have grown as a human being.
I wish I could say the journey is easier than this. For sure, social media makes it look that way! But that’s mostly hype. I have found my own trek beyond rewarding (including my valleys) but never easy.
This Newsletter is a testament to that. This is issue number 2 in what I intend to be thousands of issues. Millions of words. I’m standing on Mount Stupid at the moment, but I know the valley is coming.
And the best way that I can deal with that is to prepare myself with knowledge and with action. A big part of my preparation is to assist you with your big challenges. I want you to see me out there throwing punches. Getting hit, but not giving up. That’s what winning in life is all about.
So, now it's your turn.
What goals or projects do you have in front of you?
How will you accomplish them?
How will you avoid being knocked out when Life puts you on the mat?
How will you get up and start fighting again?
Here are my suggestions:
(1) Write down your goals. Nothing will crystallize your goals more than writing them down. Review them daily to get a feel for where you are at any given moment.
(2) Keep it simple. Don't overwhelm yourself. You'll just give up. Instead, focus on the main action steps required and take those, however messy. For the entrepreneur, imperfect action trumps inaction.
(3) Connect with some like-minded people who are also trying to achieve things. You are positively or negatively influenced by your closest connections. Upgrade your associations in order to upgrade your life.
Drop me a line and tell me how you're doing. I'd love to help you on your journey.
Consider me your corner-man.
Like Rocky’s trainer, Mickey, I’ll be the one beating the mat, and yelling “Get up! You can do it!” when life knocks you down.
PS. Let me know if I can help you with any of your goals. Click the links below to check out some of the ways we can work together.
I'd love to see you there!
I'll see you back in your inbox next Monday!