Experience can be the best teacher.
No school, book, or course can prepare you for the roller coaster ride that comes with starting your own venture.
You wake up one day, heart close to bursting with inspiration.
And the next day, you start questioning your life choices and wonder why you dared to take up the challenge that’s entrepreneurship.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’d know I share snippets and learnings from this journey of building my writing business.
In this post, I’ve covered some lessons I recently learned that could only have come with pursuing my passion. Read on, and if you resonate with any, do let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Avoiding failure come with a price.
When you’re building a business, you have to experiment a lot.
By definition, experimenting means you fail a lot.
And when you fail a lot, you learn a lot.
But you don't always make the progress that you want to.
It's hard to consider learning as "progress” because our brains are so hardwired only to measure success or progress by the materialistic value we get.
For example, a job, a promotion, more sales or money, etc., are considered yardsticks of success. Lessons and takeaways are not.
But learnings are valuable.
If we collect and curate our takeaways, we can keep taking more intentional steps toward our long-term goal. This way, we can achieve infinitely better results.
But it is our fear that stops us from trying again. We are so attached to the idea of being successful that we start seeing failure as something to be avoided at all costs.
Lesson: If you avoid failure, you will spend your entire life being cautious and not living up to your full potential.
The only way to move ahead is to swallow failure like bitter juice.
Notice the results, note the takeaways, and take intentional steps not to repeat them. This is a healthy way to move ahead from failures.
If you can adapt this mindset, no force in the universe can come between you and your goal.
New challenges bring back the adrenaline rush.
I recently performed poetry in front of an audience of 200+ people.
I still wonder if I was in my senses when I said yes. I’m a shy artist, and most of my poetry is for myself. Reading it to another person feels like a violation of my comfort zone.
That’s why my first instinct was to say no when I got the invitation to the Kavi Sammelan (Poet’s conclave in Hindi) at IIT Guwahati’s annual cultural fest.
And that’s precisely why I said yes.
My stomach was in knots, my throat parched, and my knees shook when I got on the stage. But I reminded myself I’m capable of doing what I set my heart to.
I held the microphone, leafed through my book of poems, and started reciting.
In between, I kept wondering if people would understand or appreciate my emotions. What if they hate everything I was speaking?
When I finished my first poem, I waited.
For an excruciating second, there was utter silence.
Then, as if moved by an invisible hand, the whole auditorium started applauding.
I was so moved, I had tears in my eyes.
This bolstered my confidence. I started the second poem with a little bit more self-belief. My voice was shaking a bit less, and my legs didn’t feel like they would give way anymore.
By the end of the 20-minute session, I was so fueled by adrenaline, that I felt I could keep performing poetry for another hour at least.
Lesson: The adrenaline rush of new challenges doesn’t fade when you’re wealthy or successful.
I spent six years writing online for free. Then, I automated 90% of my writing business. My team does the heavy lifting for me, and in most cases, all I have to do is proofread the final version of the work before sending it over to its intended destination.
At this stage, I feel like I’m aware of the ins and outs of the online writing world. There are hardly any new puzzles to decipher that pique my interest.
I took this to mean that I’m probably too old to feel that excitement of achieving something that seemed insurmountable.
But that’s not true.
The poetry open mic made me remember what it’s like to take up a new challenge and see it to completion. It made me believe that even though I feel I’ve done all I can, there’s still so much scope for new work, new challenges, and new mountains to climb.
There will come a time when your success will plateau.
And your monkey brain will convince you that this is it. This is the pinnacle of all you were ever meant to achieve.
But that’s not true. There are two aspects to this feeling:
- A plateau doesn’t imply that you’re static. It means you're able to hold on to a certain level of success for an extended time period. This is no mean feat, because we know how easily the curve could have gone into a downward spiral as well.
- Sometimes, this plateau that you so hate could end up as the launch pad to the next step in your journey.
Lesson: The moments of reflection that come with plateaus can be life-changing if you let them.
When you feel you’re stuck in a plateau, take a moment to pause and reflect. Journaling will give you some much-needed clarity.
Why has there been no growth?
Maybe it’s because you’ve been focused on other aspects of your life that don’t directly relate to your business. Maybe you’re building something new that will take time to bring in the results. These are essential steps that will shape your future. You need to be patient and learn to enjoy the process.
Or maybe you’ve grown complacent, taking your success for granted. Maybe you’ve stopped pushing for new clients or building new things because you’re comfortable with how things are. If that’s the case, getting back in touch with your core values will help.
What drove you before and why is it missing now? What steps can you take to bring that motivation back to your life?
The answers won’t come easily, but once they do, they will help you understand yourself better.
Entrepreneurship, after all, is no mean feat.
It’s not something you start on a whim. It’s a journey spanning multiple years that takes a lot from you. But in return, it can give you the life you always dreamed about.
The only question is: are you willing to put in the grind until you see the results you crave?