Seeking advice can feel hard as an entrepreneur – it’s almost a contradiction in terms! I mean, by definition, an entrepreneur is meant to be uber confident, have the best ideas in the world and the ability and experience to more than deal with any little hurdles that life throws up, yes? Is that how it feels? If it doesn’t, you might like to read my earlier blog on confidence here, before going any further. If, on the other hand, confidence isn’t an issue but finding the right advice is, do read on.
What is entrepreneurialism?
The Financial Times once defined an entrepreneur as ‘someone who creates or discovers new ideas or opportunities for the purpose of creating value, whether economic, social, or even political – and forming a new organisation to do so’. Having a firm belief in your own ability to be successful, is therefore really important. Jayson Demers, CEO of Audience Bloom, writing for Entrepreneur.com, describes entrepreneurs as a unique breed. This particular article is all about how entrepreneurs think. He explains how, whilst entrepreneurship is a complicated and difficult path, the most successful entrepreneurs are those with an entrepreneurial mindset, i.e “a set of perspectives and values that allow them to achieve greatness”.
Demers sets out 10 perspectives that will differentiate the likelihood of entrepreneurial success. It’s a great list that basically makes it clear that it isn’t about miracles or magic… it’s about hard work, determination, and being ‘all-in’. He concludes that entrepreneurs aren’t born with a special mindset – they’re simply prepared to be prepared for the challenges that await. You may recall that this article started by talking about taking advice. Demers talks about the importance of outside perspective. He says “Successful entrepreneurs are constantly searching for individuals and experiences that will challenge their way of thinking and lead them to see things from a new perspective.”
That new perspective
My friend, Bob, inspired this blog post when he referred to his invisible advisory board on his Facebook page this morning. Do you have an invisible advisory board? Bob has John Lennon on his! Setting up an actual advisory board can be daunting, especially for a start up business. You may not even be running the sort of business that is ready for a full-on advisory board. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need advice or that you wouldn’t benefit from seeking a different perspective.
By now, you may be thinking I’ve gone slightly mad. An invisible advisory board? What next! But bear with me for a minute. How many times have you been asked that now infamous question about your top fantasy dinner list. Not everyone chooses people who are alive! Yes, I know Stephen Fry and Graham Norton are hugely popular choices, but so are Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci and Charles Darwin. (I know, yes we could also have a discussion about the lack of ladies appearing on these lists, but that’s not the purpose of this post!). The thing is, when we choose our famous and infamous dinner guests, we presumably have things we would like to talk to them about, things we would like to ask them.
It’s not such a stretch then to think that people we’ve never met can be useful to us in business. Why else do we read books, blogs, articles, etc? So who would you have on your invisible advisory board, I’d love to know!! Remember, entrepreneurs are constantly looking to be challenged and to see things from a new perspective – who could do that for you?
You may remember, in an earlier blog post, I shared with you how I had attended a workshop with Fran Burgess – a psychotherapist, NLP trainer and writer with a long history of studying NLP. In one of her books she introduces a technique for role modelling mentors in absentia. From my own experience of using this – personally, and also with clients – you will be surprised at what you find out through working through this exercise (Thanks, Fran!). Be prepared to let go of what you think or feel (and suspend any disbelief!) and give yourself permission to learn in a completely new way. After all, what have you got to lose!
5 steps to role model your mentor
1. Think of a a role that you would like to strengthen. Ask yourself how strong you feel you are, in this role, at this point in time (1 low – 10 high).
2. Now think of up to six people who would have something to say about this role. It’s completely up to you whether they are alive or dead, known or unknown to you, historical or fiction. Whitney Houston was one of mine last time I did this!
You now need to create some physical space so that you can stand in the middle of the mentors that you have chosen, with a space for each of them around you. If you are using more than 2 or 3 mentors, I recommend that you write their names on a piece of paper and space those out on the floor around you.
3. One by one, step into the space you have set out for each of them – their space. Take a moment to get into their head, perhaps reflecting on something you have heard or read from them, and then answer the following questions as them (not you – this is not the time for “What I think they’d say is….”!).
• What do you strongly believe about this role?
• What is important?
• Who are you in this role? What are you like?
• How does this role fuel your purpose?
4. As you gather the information from each of your mentors, return to your centre spot and acknowledge what each person has given to you. Do this every time before you move into the next space. Once you have gathered information from every mentor, ask yourself the same set of questions…
• What do you strongly believe now in this role?
• What is important now?
• Who are you in this role? What are you like now?
• What fuels your purpose now?
5. Finally imagine a situation in the near future where you may need to fulfil this role. Ask yourself the final set of questions:
• What are you now aware of?
• What are other people noticing?
• How strong do you now feel in this role (1 low – 10 high)
If you choose to work with someone else on this exercise, do get the other person to write down the thoughts that come into your mind as you speak them. When I use this exercise with clients – I find it’s very popular with entrepreneurs and other coaches – I ask the questions and document their responses on the client’s behalf, freeing them up to be completely in the moment with that mentor. If you would like to know more, or would like some help on working this through, as always, do get in touch.
I hope you find this exercise as useful as I did. A new perspective awaits!
Be unstoppable today!
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