By Doug Kisgen
Anyone with an entrepreneurial heart will understand you can’t just decide to start a business one day and expect success the next. I believe there are certain principles that can lead to success in business.
- Be open to mentorship. Nothing great was accomplished alone. Look for experts and consider spiritual direction. Check out coaches and consultants. Know yourself and especially your weaknesses so they can be delegated to someone else. Be part of a mastermind group such as Entrepreneur’s Organization, etc.
- Make an honest assessment of where you are. Examine your day; be sorry for the times you fell short and thankful for the times you were virtuous. Then make a resolution for the next day. Also consider long-term goals and resolutions.
- Prioritization is key. Who or what comes first in your life? Second? Whether you have consciously identified this or not, it’s obvious in where you spend most of your thoughts and time. The proper hierarchy is God first, spouse second, kids third and everything else after that.
- Live a life of virtue. Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, researched the major cultures of all time and concluded there are six universal principles held by all peoples of all time. Transcendence, love, wisdom, justice, courage and temperance. These principles can also be called virtues. Whether it’s the Bible, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Ben Franklin or Seligman, all these virtues are a part of who we are. If we are not striving to live them out, we are not being who we are. We are living a lie and cannot be fully happy. However, it is also important to recognize that we cannot master all of these virtues at once. Instead, we can focus on one per week, or per month, until we feel it comes more naturally.
- Give past being fair. The most important virtue is love/charity. This is a total gift of self. We cannot give without receiving. Relationships, especially marriages, are not about what we get but more about what we give. It’s not about being fair. It’s about giving past fair.
- Choose to make sacrifices. Bad things happen to good people, and pleasure in itself does not produce happiness. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Choosing to make sacrifices for another can produce great joy. Recognizing that everything that happens to us provides us a choice on how we react is important. A nail must have resistance when hammered into a wall or else it won’t be able to support the picture hanging on it. The setbacks we are given provide us opportunities to grow in virtue.
- Win the battle with your alarm clock. The old saying is you lose 10% of your daily energy every time you hit the snooze button. It is our first battle of the will each day. Now we know from research that our willpower is like a muscle that can become fatigued. This is called ego depletion. It’s one reason why Steve Jobs wore the same thing every day. It was one less decision to make. Each time you hit the snooze button, you are making a decision that depletes energy for making other more important decisions throughout the day.
- Use meditation/prayer to gain authentic joy. Meditation, or prayer, is a critical component of happiness. You can’t be grateful and sad at the same time. Part of giving thanks is to do so to a higher power who is ultimately the reason for our existence. There are many forms of prayer, but one of the most ancient is called Lectio Divina, or “divine reading.” It means taking a portion of scripture/readings and gnawing on them to see if something speaks to you. If it does, you pause and ponder it for a bit, and if it doesn’t, you move on.
- Move forward, not backward. Life is a battle, and if we aren’t moving forward, we are most certainly moving backward. We need to take care and love those around us first. This is counter-cultural right now and is a major part of why we are in the mess we are in. People are looking out for number one when the best way to look out for number one is to look out for others first. We don’t “deserve” anything. We need to “rethink” our priorities and commit to small actions steps following the core principles in Rethink Happy.
These nine steps are not a guarantee of success, but I can guarantee you will be happier and experience more authentic joy in your successes and in your failures as you start an entrepreneurial journey.
Doug Kisgen is a serial entrepreneur, organizational consultant, and author of Rethink Happy. Doug’s current company, Kisgen Group, works with entrepreneurs and executives to help them get what they want through the use of a short survey that validly measures seven work-related traits. Follow Doug on Twitter @dougkisgen.