You Can Earn or You Can Learn, or You Can Get Left Behind

At some point, we’ve all implemented a new technique, tactic or strategy, and either endured a great deal of pain completing it, or seen the technique fall flat on its face. Rob Moore, a highly esteemed author, here gives CEO Today his best blog advice on entrepreneur self-development.

One of the most important elements of an entrepreneur’s self-development is being sure to roll with the punches and haul yourself back to your feet. If you can’t do that, how will you ever survive in business?

While all of us will have experienced pain or failure at some point, it’s still tough when it happens, and many entrepreneurs struggle to maintain a positive mindset in the aftermath.

“It’s my fault – I’m a terrible entrepreneur,” some think.

“That was a waste of time and a waste of money,” others complain.

Or, “The pain just wasn’t worth the outcome.”

There are a million other ways that an entrepreneur can play the victim and beat themselves up for whatever went wrong, and the whole “defeat, blame, defeat, blame” cycle can be tough to escape. A successful entrepreneur seeking a healthy, unshakeable business mindset will find a way through, though, and there are two simple principles you can acknowledge to make the process easier to bear.

It benefits your self-development to recognise that, whenever you try something new, even if you don’t earn from the experience, you can still learn from it.

Earning and learning – an example

I have recently endured recording my own audiobook, and I’m not yet sure if it is going to pay off.

After a lot of calls from my community to do so, I’ve recently been reading aloud in a studio for my latest book release, “Money”. I flipped the idea around in my head for a long time before taking the plunge, wondering if it was going to be worth all the time, effort and fluffed lines, but once I publicly vowed that I was going to do it, I’ve been determined to see it through to the bitter end.

Now, this has been a tough experience. It has taken several days out of my diary, which would potentially have been worth a lot of money. I’ve had to shuffle some appointments around, at the risk of upsetting people. I’ve been left wondering if all this time and dedication is going to make much of a difference to the audiobook’s reception, when I could have just employed a voice artist to struggle instead of me. I was so bothered by it all that I even had a stress-related nightmare before I began recording.

And that’s not to even mention all the difficulties I’ve encountered while reading my own damn book out loud!

So, taking a deep breath, realising that it benefits my self-development, it’s time for me to call in those two principles I’ve just mentioned and embrace a healthy entrepreneurial mindset again, and ask, what have I learnt?

  1. Reading your own audiobook gives you a chance to edit it again – The version of the book that I read for the audiobook was supposed to have been the very final draft, but while reading it aloud for the recording I found over 20 small mistakes. This means that these 20+ errors, which have already been edited and were going to go out to the community as a finished piece of work, can now be removed and improved, making the copy that goes on sale as close to perfect as I can make it.
  2. I can manage my time even better than I’d thought – I think that I’m pretty good at time management, but sometimes it just takes a little bit of extra pressure to push you further and to realise, Wait a minute, I can do this even better. I’ve been travelling to the studio each day by train, and on the journeys there and back I’ve been forced to get an entire day’s worth of work out of the way. Therefore, going through the struggle of recording my audiobook has taught me that in my usual everyday life I’m probably wasting a bit of time here and there, so I can work to pick up the slack a little more in the future.
  3. Doing live feeds as I record has brought me closer to my community – I’m used to recording Facebook Live videos, but I’d never streamed something as important or significant as when I shared my audiobook recording efforts. In fact, despite the commute and the recording mistakes and the extra effort, I found that I was getting comments of support from my audience and a different kind of interaction from them. This was a real “behind the scenes” glimpse I was offering my audience, giving them the opportunity to feel more closely involved with my work – as well as to see the pain that I’ve been going through!
  4. It has prepared me better for the book’s promotion – I knew my book fairly well already, of course, but it had been a few months since I had read it all the way through. Reading the book for the recording immersed me in it once again, gave me a genuine reason to talk about the book to my community, and solidified the content in my mind, ready for me to start promoting the book before and following its release.

As you can see, despite the pain of committing to the task, there have been many benefits that have arisen because of it. I could have entered the process with the wrong mindset and come out the other side thinking, “What a waste of my time, and what a needless load of stress. I’m never doing this again.” But instead, I’ve just listed the things I’ve learnt from a difficult experience, and I feel a lot more optimistic about it now.

There is even a chance that, due to the benefits I’ve already had from recording the book, I may end up learning AND earning from the experience – the ideal scenario!

Getting the most from pain and failure

I have a challenge for you.

The next time you find yourself having to do something that you don’t want to, or which is challenging, or even that you have failed at, instead of beating yourself up and lamenting where you went wrong, try to work out what you can learn from the process.

New entrepreneurs may miss the security and predictable outcomes associated with employed work. When you are working for another person, any struggle you have or any failure you encounter – unless it sees you getting fired – does not affect the “bottom line” of your salary. That makes the tough days easier to swallow in many ways, because at least you know you’ll have a stable wage at the end of the week or month. Someone running a business does not have this luxury, and will notice changes in productivity and effectiveness at the end of each month, which can make those painful or failed ventures tougher to accept.

There is always something to learn that can teach you how to do better next time, though, because:

  • When a new strategy fails, you may either scratch it off your list or learn how to do better at the same strategy next time.
  • When you experience a lot of pain during a task or new venture, there will be always benefits and takeaways you can reflect on and recognise if you work on the entrepreneurial mindset that works best for you.
  • When business is bad, you might learn that you need to cut costs, or need to start your marketing earlier, or that you have a few staff that aren’t at capacity yet.

By observing the principles that state that with every new venture you will either earn or learn something valuable, you will recognise that you can’t lose. With this mindset, you either succeed, make money and get a great result, or you learn how to do better next time.

Final thoughts

It is important to remember that in business, problems never disappear and there will always be another difficult task or challenge. By completing one challenge, all you do is prepare yourself for the next, bigger problem. This might sound defeatist, but it’s just the way of the entrepreneur, and that’s why it is SO IMPORTANT to approach each new technique, tactic, strategy and venture with the right mindset and as an opportunity for self-development, rather than letting the stress of the challenge get you down.

And let’s be honest: without challenges, life would get boring pretty quickly, wouldn’t it? So, make the most of them, learn from them, and hopefully profit from them in the process.

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