The Northstar mindset

Keeping your sanity is for many first time enterpreneurs a challenge. One day you’re a frontpage posterboy, only to get dropped into oblivion the day after. While coaching many young, and mainly first time, enterpreneurs I hope to share my learnings with them, hoping they won’t have to invest 10+ years to figure this thing out.

One of the most important things is keeping a well balanced mindset. Developing this makes the difference between legendary founders and temporary. I am talking about developing a sense of mental maturity that will provide stability, wisdom and values that will guide you through the deepest of waters and protect you from going of the rails. I call it the Northstar mindset.

Embrace the fight. Start to seize up the world as a battlefield. Train yourself to feel comfortable amidst the storm of a battle. You’re not entering a meeting room, but you are entering a cage. Read about warfare strategies, and apply them. Become the meanest street fighter on your block. Pick your battles. It takes strategy and patience to win a war. Be willing to sacrifice some battles in order to relentlessly stay ahead of your opponents.

Honour your family and close friends. They not only recharge your batteries, they also give you perspective when things are getting tough. These few people are your best weapon against self-doubt and looming negative feelings. It is very unlikely you will make any friends in your business circles, so don’t let your business contacts tax your self worth. Keeping a healthy family life will prevent you from falling too low or becoming to cocky.

Sharpen your body and mind. Smoking, drug use, alcohol, bad eating and worse sleeping habits have a direct impact on your mental resilience. An elite mind needs an elite body. Pick up sports and dedicate time for it. Train like an athlete. I no longer let meetings or phone calls get in the way of my training schedule. You only have one body, take good care of it. Get into CrossFit. Eat Paleo. Get healthy amounts of sleep.

Eliminate waste. Everything that doesn’t contribute to your objective, is waste. Don’t waste time with people that suck up your energy, or projects that don’t bring you closer to your objective. If you feel you can’t coach someone, quit coaching. If you can feel you can’t add value, walk away. If you feel you’re not welcome, go someplace else. Use the philosophy of Water; adapt, iterate and choose least resistance because forcing stuff generates wasteful energy.

Choose a different metric for success. Don’t measure up your success by the number of friends have, or the number in your bank account. Some people measure their success based on the number of enemies they have. While I have a sense of respect for the latter, learn how success is a very relative concept. Understand how social media is only use to bloat somebody’s small successes into a huge deal. Don’t get overwhelmed by what others do. Follow your own path, your own heart, and your own pace. That’s the only key to success.

Have fun! Don’t follow the Silicon Valley deathtrap of doing something meaningful that will make the world a better place. That place doesn’t exist. Unless you’re Greenpeace or United Nations, dial it down a bit on the bullshit-o-meter and try to do something that’s fun. Truth is, you can make money with plenty of things. Don’t waste your time on this. Doing stuff that’s fun? Now that’s a rare thing. Continue to look what entices you, what you consider to be fun and go for it. Chances are you might be doing it for the rest of your life. If it ain’t fun, don’t do it.