There was a time when entrepreneurship was mostly for the crazy or the brave — or maybe a bit of both. That’s still true, but now new groups of people are being brought into the world of entrepreneurship due to changes in the workplace and changes in technology. People aren’t so much choosing entrepreneurship as they are being faced with the opportunity to embrace it, even if they are building a career, rather than a business.
I’ve discussed the net benefits of the gig economy here before, and once we’ve accepted that this is a shift in how we work, not a fad that will pass in time, then we have to adapt to make the best of those changes.
I recently had the chance to speak with James DeCicco who runs BeachCoders Academy, a coding school that partners with my company, VocaWorks. He’s also the author of Master the Gig Economy: How a Next Generation Entrepreneur Builds Wealth, and we discussed precisely that. Trying to be mindful of his time, I asked for just one way that people could approach their lives with a more entrepreneurial spirit. He took the time to share five. “It’s really more of a five-step mindset shift that moves our thinking towards taking total responsibility for our success in life,” DeCicco said.
“You should be moving towards building systems you control rather than relying on outside systems like the actions of others or a steady paycheck from an employer.”
When entrepreneurs hear “systems,” they often think of Michael Gerber’s famous E-Myth Revisited, but the principle is the same for those in jobs. If you start to see your paycheck as only one income stream of several that you have — or want to have — then you won’t allow an unbalanced reliance on that income stream to unduly influence the way you think, work, and live.
Take the opportunity to periodically apply the 80/20 rule within your workflow. What 20 percent of your workflow is responsible for the 80 percent of results? What comprises 80 percent of your bottlenecks? Adjust accordingly and revisit often.
2. Commit to yourself first.
“While ‘selfish’ is often seen as ‘conceited,’ taking care of yourself first is the surest pathway to allow you to take care of others while staying strong.”
This doesn’t seem to be a hard case to make anymore. With network news anchors like Dan Harris writing books about how meditation led to more happiness in his marriage and work, and entrepreneurs like Arianna Huffington writing about why sleep might be the biggest part of every successful day, more and more people are convinced that caring for yourself is caring for others.
When you find yourself saying, “I should do that more often,” in response to hearing about someone else’s activities, make a note of it and ask yourself why you aren’t? Is it because you really don’t have the time or you haven’t taken the time?
3. Play to win.
“Sometimes the hard knocks of life lead us to focus solely on covering our overhead. But a strong offense is the best defense. Playing to win is a different mindset from avoiding loss.”
This tactic requires strong grounding because it is in the nature of humans to enjoy our comfort zones. Our “why” has to be clear and real enough to compel us to keep improving and striving, and a “play to win” strategy doesn’t meekly improve around the edges of our skills and work but challenges us to go for those big wins that can propel us forward to possibilities we hadn’t previously imagined.
4. Stay present.
“Rapid change is all around us, and we must condition ourselves to stay present every day by reviewing choices about our living situation, diet, lifestyle and occupation in order to happen to life, instead of letting life happen to us.”
Many of us can, and often do, look back nostalgically, not at life in the 1800s or before, but even at the 1950s, when life seemed stable and fixed. Today, everything is changing around us all the time. The pace of change seems to be matched directly to Moore’s Law, and every 18 months we can look around at our technology and the way we live our lives and something significant has probably changed.
You don’t have to keep track of every single change that is coming up, but it is important to periodically evaluate whether the changes that are happening are positive or negative in relation to the way you are living your life, and adjust accordingly. Always having a method and pace to deal with change is vital.
5. Develop a success mindset.
“See yourself as successful rather than victimized. A successful person keeps moving forward and has the courage to embrace new and unfamiliar things with the certainty that they will succeed.”
Stoicism has undergone a renaissance in the last decade, particularly due to advocates like Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss. It’s a helpful philosophy, encouraging you to choose your reactions to situations, rather than defaulting to what is expected. Holiday’s book, The Obstacle is the Way, has the clue right in the title. We know that every single day we will face difficulties and obstacles. But what makes successful people successful is their acceptance of these obstacles, knowing that not just overcoming those obstacles, but the way in which those obstacles are overcome, directly points to current and future success.