“It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers.” – Bennis and Nanus
Entrepreneurship, the often talked about abyss of opportunity, freedom and hardcore hustle, is not only expressed by creating something of value and earning revenue from it, but by how you behave as a leader during the process of it.
Being an entrepreneur and a leader are distinct in their own right, but both also lend to each other beautifully and complimentary.
To me, the study of leadership goes hand-in-hand with being a good entrepreneur and business owner, and if you want to be a real entrepreneur and business owner, then you better understand the inner workings of yourself as a leader.
Throughout the course of being an entrepreneur, a lot will be demanded of you. Of course, this is in part because great freedom and rewards require great responsibility. And in order to rise to higher levels of responsibility, you will have to understand how to lead yourself and others.
Recently I thought a lot about what has made me the kind of entrepreneur that I have become. I have come to 10 concrete conclusions (aka actions) that will help you maximize the value you provide as an entrepreneur, as well as the rewards you’ll set yourself up for in the long term.
Here they are:
1. Never Stop Learning
Always look to grow and improve yourself. This is a lifelong process.
Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes.” What a person does on a disciplined, consistent basis gets him ready, no matter what the goal.
Additionally, as you look to expand on yourself, your goals, your vision, your relationships and more, you’ll alway be needing more information to maximize the direction you’re heading in.
2. Attend Events
If you want to improve in multiple areas of your business and approaches, just place yourself around “birds of the same feather”. You’ll be amazed what you learn from environments of like-minded people, as well as what you’ll contribute, or teach, them.
Make sure you also attend the right events. Do some background research on them and make sure you find them valuable all around. There are so many to choose from, and you don’t want to go to too many of them, or you’ll never be applying what you learn.
3. Mind Your Circle Of Influence
“Success comes not from what you know but from who you know and how you present yourself to each of those people.” -Lee Iacocca
Never stop improving your inner circle. These people are your guidance system. They will tell you what direction you’re heading so make sure your circle is strong and of the highest value.
Is your inner circle adding value to you and helping you have an impact beyond what you can personally touch and do?
Entrepreneurs, especially those of us working virtually and independently, can only go so far on our own. To increase your capacity and maximize your potential as a leader, the first step is to always become the best leader you can.
Next, surround yourself with the best leaders that you can find. Your potential is determined by those closest to you. Hang around with the right people with similar goals and you’ll feel a greater drive to accomplish yours as well. Iron sharpens iron.
4. Open Your Mind
An open mind is one of your greatest assets you can have. It leads you to better processes, better people, more knowledge, more innovation and more opportunities and greater rewards,
And you have to be willing to consider doing new things you haven’t done before. There’s always something different you can do better that will yield better results.
5. Question Old Beliefs
There are a lot of things we assume and project onto the world. These wrap us and constrict our possibilities. Don’t let you hold you back! Challenge your old beliefs and paradigms; question them to see if they serve you being at your best today.
The status quo remains the same for a reason. Don’t be the status quo. Question everything and always be innovating forward.
6. Do What Leaders Do
You already know what it means to lead – it means showing up as your highest and best self each and every day and in each and every situation.
It means being the example you know you can be. Leading well is not about enriching yourself–it’s about empowering others, and empowering others is done by you taking action yourself.
7. Do What Top Producers Do
Do you have a few people that you admire? People that are really good at what they do and have the type of character you aspire for? Then those are the people you should place yourself around . . . immediately and as often as you can. If you don’t have any, start getting out more and finding some you do from events, traveling, other cultures, referrals and more.
And don’t forget, top producers have superior sales and marketing skills. Make sure to find those with these two characteristics, as well as how they help their customers. You need to have a better grasp on how to help those with the needs you’re solving.
There’s infinite content out there just waiting for your mind to absorb. Read about and study the people you admire or desire to be like.
Whatever it is about them that you are attracted to is already in you. Using them as role models, strive to hone in on these same traits within yourself. This attitude promises a strong, like-minded character with your own personal twist.
Additionally, you need to approach the development of your mind as a lifetime process. Learning sharpens your mental skills and expands your mind. If you don’t like reading, get books on CD or video. Everyone is capable of absorbing info in some way, just be sure that you do.
We all know it’s vitally important to follow a regimen of daily exercise.
I believe it is something of inestimable value. Of all the leaders the US has ever had, Theodore Roosevelt was one of the toughest, both physically and mentally. But he didn’t start that way. As a child, he was puny and very sickly. His father once told him “You have the mind, but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. You must make the body.”
Make it he did. Mr. Roosevelt lived by the law of process. He spent his time daily building his body as well as his mind, for the rest of his life.
The ultimate man of action he was once described by British historian Hugh Brogan as “the ablest man to sit in the White House since Lincoln; the most vigorous since Jackson; the most bookish since John Quincy Adams.”
10. Time Out For Solitude and Reflection
Make sure to set aside 10 minutes a day where you have complete quiet time and still your mind. Find a quiet place and exist only in your own space.
By doing this, you’ll allow your subconscious mind to take over and have more of those “a-ha” moments. When you stretch your mind about something, it continues to work subconsciously behind the scenes even after the conscious thought has passed.
Eventually, be it the next morning or next week or whenever you may find yourself hit by a moment of clarity inspired by that earlier practice. (I find that late night is a great time to do this because it primes your brain to fire up that subconscious part of it and work through the night.)
Victorious leaders possess an unwillingness to accept defeat. The alternative to winning is totally unacceptable to them.
As always, feel free to comment and share your experiences and thoughts below.