Why are some entrepreneurs more successful than others? We continually ask this question because most answers on the subject don’t satisfy the question.
Execution is the currency of successful entrepreneurs. Most of us are not born executors. It takes years to learn that in order to be successful and execute, we have to ignore the distractions and control our focus.
Donnie made millions as a commercial real estate broker in his early 20’s. When he was in his late 20s he began to feel incredibly guilty about his wealth.
Having grown up in India he couldn’t reconcile his wealth, and new found lifestyle with the memory of his third world upbringing. He shut down his business, went back to India, and gave all of his money away over the period of a few years.
Donnie was hired to facilitate a retreat I attended. The agenda for the was centered around topics related to entrepreneurship.
Those of us who were lucky enough to attend met an electric speaker who was captivating. Unlike many facilitators I’d met before, he introduced me to a concept that changed my entrepreneurial approach forever.
When the meeting officially started, he walked up to a flip-board and drew a picture of a monkey drinking out of a bottle.
“Do you know what this picture represents?”
“A monkey drinking” someone said sarcastically.
“It could be interpreted as a monkey, but this isn’t a picture of a monkey, its a picture of your brain.”
A few people giggled.
“The Buddha once described the human mind as being full of drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering and carrying on endlessly.”
He paused for effect and we all stared at him curiously.
“I went from abject poverty as a child to running a multi-million dollar business in my 20’s. It wasn’t because I spent more on advertising, or had better suits. It’s because I learned how to tame my drunken monkey.”
He paused again for a moment, everyone’s eyes were glued to him.
“We are all driven by impulses. These very impulses can enslave our thinking. Its impossible to effectively deal with the present when you are worrying about things yet to happen, or things that will never happen.”
Everyone was shaking their heads in agreement.
“Most people are distracted all day — if they tracked it — I’m confident they’d find they get very little real work done. Right now some of you are probably thinking about the game you watched last night, or how boring this presentation is. It’s difficult to focus on the present because the thoughts controlled by your drunken monkey — won’t let you. Success in entrepreneurship is possible for anyone who is able to discipline themselves. If you can’t master your own mind, how are you going to inspire others?”
I wrote “how are you going to inspire others?” down on my notepad and underlined it a few times.
“This may sound spiritual to you, but I’m certainly not a spiritual guide. I teach people how to unapologetically make money. It’s not your connections or your education that makes you money. Making money happens by focusing on the present and shutting down your inner drunken monkey. If you’re at work but you are thinking about being at home, you might as well be at home. To truly execute, to be that person who does it better than anybody else, you have to learn to control your worry, doubts, and fears. Otherwise, you will be just like everyone else, the majority who fail.”
Being present doesn’t mean you don’t have to write a business plan. It doesn’t mean that you don’t reminisce, future plan or fantasize. Learning how to control your mind so that it focuses on the present circumstance, is essential to making entrepreneurship work. An actionable plan is what successful businesses use to stay present.
Most entrepreneurs fail in their first year. There are thousand of reasons why this happens. A well researched, well thought-out, actionable plan is never one of those reasons.
The problem most entrepreneurs have is staying focused on the task at hand. Every entrepreneur has a head full of changing ideas. It’s easy to want to change your business plan when a person or idea sparks something in you. It’s easy to go chasing after something when you smell blood in the water. It’s important to stay present and grounded in your planning. If you have written an actionable plan, and there is a clear path to money, your task is right in front of you. Your business doesn’t think unless you do, it is always firmly planted in the present. If you happen to drift from your present, recognize it’s just your drunken monkey then return back to the present, where your business is.