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The entrepreneurial journey is tough — a real odyssey of challenges, difficulties, and failures. But like an odyssey, it is a beautiful journey, which asks of us mental endurance more than anything. Challenges, for entrepreneurs, are a sport, and like athletes, they go to great lengths to overcome them.
People like Elon Musk have already tapped into the right mindset, founding successful enterprises one after the other with seemingly bottomless reserves of grit and intelligence. As the industry leader in electric vehicles, his ingenuity has brought great innovations to Earth, and with Space X, he is now reaching out into the universe.
What the likes of Musk are capable of squeezing into a day’s work might seem almost supernatural. But if you look closely, their recipe for success is built around core mindsets that allow them to breeze through challenges and use them as building blocks.
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The Three Core Mindsets of Successful Serial Entrepreneurs
Here are three core mindsets that you can leverage along your odyssey toward serial entrepreneurship.
Divide and Conquer
At a first glance, Steve Jobs’ accomplishments at Pixar and Apple, or Elon Musk’s serial successes with Tesla and SpaceX, can seem beyond our reach. What many don’t realize is that they are attainable when broken down into small actionable parts. This is why, to become a serial entrepreneur, the divide and conquer method is essential, because divide and conquer allows you to take the complexities of multiple startups and dissect them into simple sub-tasks.
As an analogy: the axel is considered one of the toughest and most spectacular stunts in figure skating. As a whole, it looks near impossible. But its composite parts — right-foot take-off, 1.5 rotations, left-foot landing — are manageable on their own.
In your entrepreneurial journey too, breaking down the big tasks into step-by-step guides is a game changer. A carefully broken-down plan will allow you to run multiple businesses with confidence and efficiency, accomplishing the entrepreneurial equivalent of an axel jump — or, why not, a triple axel.
What all the greatest serial entrepreneurs have in common is their inexhaustible supply of ingenious ideas. No wonder first-tier serial entrepreneurs everywhere emphasize the need to leave time in your day for creativity. Ingenuity is a muscle that we can train like athletes. Just like anything, the more we do it, the better we get at it. James Altucher, the author of the bestseller Choose Yourself, has discussed how our idea muscles can atrophy if we let them — and this is true for everyone.
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Google is perfectly aware of the potency of ideas, using its “20-percent rule” as a pillar of its business model. This bold policy allows its employees to devote 20 percent of their time (8 hours a week) to innovative ideas. Because they know that this will make their employees happier and more creative, making them more profitable in the long-term. Google’s commitment to innovation means it has an edge over its competition, evidenced by its sci-fi-worthy ideas, such as solar-powered contact lenses or the pill that searches for diseases in your body.
And this is why one of the three core mindsets of the serial entrepreneur is coming up with ideas constantly. Ideas don’t cost anything other than a bit of time, but once planted, they have the potential to grow into world-changing inventions.
Fail Again, Fail Better
Serial entrepreneurs have an impressive portfolio of successful startups. What is less talked about are the failures they accumulated along their journey. It’s only natural to try to avoid misfortune; it’s something we’re programmed to do. Our purpose is to succeed, so why would we want to fail?
It takes a mindset change to realize that the relationship between success and failure is not mutually exclusive but beautifully symbiotic.
What that means is that the wins will show you new horizons, but the failures will serve as a time for growth. Don’t get me wrong, minimizing our failure should be a priority, but we should also realize it is a statistical given. Since we’ll always meet failure on our journey, why not use it as a resource?
As a 15-year-old, Michael Jordan was devastated because he didn’t make the Laney High School varsity team. He told ESPN: “Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it.” You know the rest of the story: He became arguably the best athlete to ever live with failure as his fuel to success.
Elon Musk had the same drive at the beginning of his journey at SpaceX. He was on the ropes with his third failed attempt at devising a reusable rocket. His entourage advised him to quit and save what’s left of his capital. With the money he earned selling PayPal, he financed the company that would be known as SpaceX. The fourth rocket launch succeeded. Today, he is the wealthiest man on Earth.
Entrepreneurship is a challenging journey packed with excitement, adventure and hard work. To succeed, serial entrepreneurs take every day head-on with the determination and grit of world-class athletes. What Elon Musk or Steve Jobs accomplished may seem far-off in the distance, but it’s closer than you think. By changing your core mindsets, you too can plant your ideas and watch your inventions take root in the world.
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