The courage to persevere
Honey badgers are reputed to be one of the toughest animals in the world. They have a thick skin (literally), long claws and really strong, sharp teeth. They wil rarely back off from hyenas or even lions, and they can be real trouble makers, taking over aardvark or fox holes if their own home is not to their liking any more. One of the most remarkable things about honey badgers is their legendary partnership with the honey guide bird. Although the partnership has not been scientifically proven, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about this partnership - here’s how it works:
The honey guide bird is fond of honey, but they have trouble getting to honey protected in the stone crevices or tree stumps where bees make their home in the wild. So the bird will attract a honey badger by repeatedly swooping over it’s head, twittering loudly and annoying the badger until it starts following the bird.
The honey guide bird will lead the badger right to the hive. When the badger finds the hive, it will dive in head first, using its strong claws to break open the hive and get to the honey. Its skin protects it from the sting of the angry bees and its claws allow it to break or dig through the obstacles until it reaches the honey.
When the honey badger has had its fill, it will leave a portion of honeycomb for the honey guide bird - a thank-you for the guide and food for the bird.
Just like the honey badger won’t give up even with thousands of angry bees attacking it, you must have the courage to persevere even in tough times.
But sometimes finding that courage can be difficult. Here are three things that may help you:
adversity forces focus;
look for small victories; and
Adversity forces focus
You already know that building a business is tough. But sometimes it seems as if everything is against you - you’re not making the progress you need, you just don’t seem to get the stuff done that you need to, and your sales are lagging far behind what you thought you would be doing at this stage of your business. There are lots of negatives and seemingly very few positives. It seems as if everything is conspiring against you.
But as things get worse, something amazing happens: We get ultra-focused on the things that really matter now. All of those other things that seemed so important a week or two ago begin to pale in comparison to what we need to generate revenue now. So we focus in on those things, park the now nice-to-have’s, and focus on just the things we need to do to get out of the hole.
The adversity we’re facing forces us to focus on what matters now. And this is one of the most important things every small business owner learns somewhere along the line:
You have to focus on what really matters now.
When things are not that tough, when we think we still have a lot of runway and we have time to get everything ship-shape before we go to market, or release a new offering, or start seriously marketing - that’s when we waste time and spin our wheels.
But when things get really difficult, we learn two valuable lessons:
There are very few things that are really, really important right now.
When we need to, we can really focus and get stuff done.
So even when times are tough and we’re not liking where we are, there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud. The adversity forces us to focus on what really matters and get stuff done really fast. It’s not always comfortable, but it is a lesson on what can be done when we need to.
Look for small victories
There’s a big danger in having to work against adversity all the time:
We get tired when it’s all uphill and no downhill.
If you have to battle setbacks and problems every day without any victories at all you get discouraged. Life is not fun any more and building your business becomes all stress and no fun. Before you know it you are a stress ball with little joy left in what you’re doing.
So you need to find small victories. You need these because even the smallest victory can be a big thing when you’re battling with adversity all the time. And the way to find these small victories is to set small goals - and focus like a laser until you’ve achieved that goal.
And that’s when the magic happens. A small victory makes a big difference in your life, you suddenly have more energy and there’s a reason to celebrate. That positive reinforcement works itself back into your energy - you’re better able to look at the next goal with joy and energy, and you’re excited to get stuff done so you can achieve the next small victory. And over time these small victories add up to bigger victories and before you know it it’s mostly downhill.
When you’re battling adversity all the time you can get so close to the problem that it’s difficult to see where you are and what you need to do to get out of a tough situation.
That’s where trusted advisors can make a huge difference. Some of the biggest jumps I’ve made in my business are thanks to my trusted advisors. These are not formal advisory roles - these are friends that I trust to give me advice on my business, give their honest opinion without honey-coating it and without having a vested interest in seeing me go in any particular direction.
My Tornado Method is fast becoming the central methodology around which my whole business is built - and it was born out of a group mastermind I attend every week. My LinkedIn profile is delivering results thanks to an expert who is also a friend and trusted advisor. My web site design is thanks to advice and examples from other people I trust and respect.
So I speak from experience when I say that trusted advisors can be one of your biggest assets when you’re struggling.
But not all advisors are equal Here’s what makes a good advisor:
They are trusted. They keep their conversations with you private; they don’t blab about how good or bad you’re doing, and what’s said between you and them remains private.
They don’t have a vested interest in you or your business. They don’t stand to benefit from the decisions you make - so they are free to give you the best advice they have.
They don’t pat you on the back all the time. There’s a time and a place for that of course, but when you need to be woken up to something you’re not seeing they need to say it without mincing words.
So gather some trusted advisors around you to help guide you and see the light that you’re not able to see. Don’t ask your family or your spouse - they’re personally involved. Get someone who seems as if they know what they’re talking about and build a relationship over time.
But how do I know when I should rather give up?
Every entrepreneur struggles with this at some point or another - things are not working out and you’re wondering if this was a good idea at all. Should you throw in the towel?
Of course I can’t tell you when you should throw in the towel. That’s one of those decisions that you need to make yourself. But I can say that every entrepreneur I know has struggled with this question at one time or another - or multiple times - and they’ve found the courage to keep on going, keep pivoting their business and eventually succeed.
Building anything of value takes time, and time takes perseverance, an open mind and above all - courage. It’s not easy - otherwise everybody would be doing it. But if you have the courage to persevere and chase your dream you have a chance of realizing that dream. Keep going.
Entrepreneurs around me
As you already know I spend a fair amount of my time with young startups. Every day I’m amazed to see the dedication, hard work and courage these people are showing in building something they believe in. They want to make the world a better place and they have the courage of their convictions to chase their dreams - I am inspired by them every day.
Building your business is a tough thing, and when you’re experiencing one setback after another it may feel like it’s all uphill and no downhill. To maintain your course and change the world you need courage - and there are three ways you can build that courage:
Know that adversity forces focus. It’s not fun when things are not as good as you would like them to be, but adversity will help you focus on what matters now.
Look for small victories. Sometimes the end goal is so big that it seems unattainable - so set smaller intermediate goals that are easier to achieve. When you reach them you will get a big boost and more courage to stay your course.
Surround yourself with trusted advisors. Surround yourself with people who have expertise and insight - and are not afraid to share it with you. They are the single best resource you can have in building your business.
These three things will help you maintain and build the courage you need to survive and eventually thrive.
The honey badger doesn’t give up
Honey badgers will jump head first into a nest of bees to get at the delicacy they want. Despite the bee stings, hard rocks or tree stumps they keep going until they get what they want. They have courage (and a thick skin).
Cultivate the same courage a honey badger has. The bee stings may hurt now, but the reward is worth it.
What do to do next
If you want to see the partnership between the honey badger and the honey guide bird, watch this video https://youtu.be/3t_vXWgoWdc on YouTube.
Use the Beginner’s Guide to the Tornado Method to help you deal with overwhelm and focus on what matters now. You can download it for free from the Britewrx web site.
And keep your courage - the rewards are worth it.