The recent news on Siddharth, founder and CEO of CCD was a big shock to the entire entrepreneur community, and I was equally impacted. Unbidden those painful memories flooded in. I could not help but empathize with what Siddhartha must have borne. In a country where starts up are a rage, this initiated a conversation in popular media and society, acknowledging the challenges entpreneurs face and how lonely it is at the top.
Entrepreneurship requires commitment and conviction to go against all the odds and hold your own to shape your ideas into reality and success. A journey full of ups and downs, it is a true test of character and courage.
I have braved many such challenges over 15 years, but 2015 was a year that tested my strength with all its might.
Every person has a different way to cope with challenges and stress. I deal with stress by reading and learning from the experiences of people around the world. These vivid accounts of strength and courage helped me a lot in 2015 to deal with stress. However, one such book that had a huge impact on me was by the world renowned psychologist from Stanford, Carol Dweck titled ‘Mindset- the new psychology of success’ . Carol talks about the power of our mindset or our beliefs (especially around challenges). We can either have a fixed mindset where we let failure (or even success define who we are) or a Growth mindset where we can see set back as opportunities to grow and improve ourselves. I strongly believe Entrepreneurship is a commitment towards perseverance and taking challenges head on.
Carol also highlights different instances where one can express a growth v/s fixed mindset. I have tried to contextualize this from an entrepreneur’s perspective.
Elon Musk+Steve Jobs+Bill Gates+Richard Branson….
A fixed mindset will try to look smart in every situation with a compulsive desire to prove themselves over and over again. Whereas a growth mindset would take risks and look to learn from every situation.
As entrepreneurs, we always carry the burden of being a Demi-God, that we can do no wrong, that all our decisions are the best ones. The desire is to always look like the smartest guy in the room. The attachment to being right all the time can cause huge disarray. The need to prove yourself, again and again, can be daunting and quite frankly be counter-productive for the company.
After reading the book, I consciously transitioned from being a leader that spoke the maximum in meetings to speak the least. I went from “telling” to “listening” . If we change our perspective from desiring perfection to growth, it can lift a huge weight off our shoulders, thereby creating a progressive environment.
We Don’t Need Superman to Save the Day!
A fixed mindset would look at each situation to evaluate if they would look smart or dumb, right or wrong, succeed or fail? The need for an entrepreneur to look like a Superman in every situation is another trap that many of us all fall prey to. There is a humane side to all entrepreneurs and asking for help and being open about your issues with your support system can yield miraculous results. Showing our vulnerabilities is human, and it can lead to options/solutions from least expected corners.
Like a phoenix, they rose from the ashes
A fixed mindset is closed to feedback. “I am a failure, I am an idiot” is a classic example of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset, on the contrary, would embrace failure with much aplomb. He/She would say, “I failed, but I shall try harder next time” .Given the glory that we see with a handful of startups, it’s easy to get swayed.
All burgeoning entrepreneurs expect a similar fate for their own startups. However, being a successful entrepreneur is like aspiring to be like the infallible Steven Spielberg or Robert De Niro. There are only a few that attain that glory after much hard work and falling down and getting up many times. The ability to use each setback as learning enables us to become stronger and avoid similar pitfalls in the future.
One of the biggest learnings from our setbacks at RateGain was lack of proper checks and balances in the system. This was when we came up with the concept of NPS (Net promoter score) – a true way to measure the happiness of internal and external stakeholders. NPS has now become an integral part of how we run RateGain. Given we put this up as a separate function in RateGain, it gives us a tremendous amount of feedback on where we could improve things.
In pressing times, I also learnt the power of some of the virtues that have been floating around in our culture space, but I chose to take them for granted until I came head-on with life-altering challenges.
I truly hope that my colleagues and fellow entrepreneurs benefit from the little wisdom I gained through my experiences. Although each person has his own journey, it always helps to know that you are not the only one who’s sailing troubled waters. In the end, I wish every individual with a dream to put a dent in the universe in their own magical way.