As much as we love being entrepreneurs, there are a lot of things about running and growing a small business that are hard. Getting clients, dealing with clients, hiring employees, getting your employees to perform to your expectations, finding time to do everything you want. All of those things are hard, right?
What if running a successful small business doesn’t have to be hard? What if one simple shift in your perspective is all it takes to go from frustratingly hard to smooth and easy?
The language that we use is powerful. The language that we use when we talk to ourselves is immensely powerful. Language has the power to create chemical reactions in our brains. And I’ve noticed that we entrepreneurs tend to be almost careless, probably out of habit, with how we talk to ourselves about what we are experiencing in our businesses.
Many of the entrepreneurs I have worked with, when they are discussing something that they view as challenging, or that hasn’t gone the way they wanted it to, or that they anticipate could be challenging, they complain that “it’s hard.” They repeat those words, “it’s hard,” over and over. I know I do it myself too.
But what happens when we tell ourselves that something is hard? Think about how you feel when you say it. Do you feel energized and ready to go to work? Do you feel like coming up with innovative solutions? Or do you feel de-motivated and discouraged?
Neuroscience shows us that when we have negative or disempowering thoughts, our brains actually release a chemical called Cortisol. This chemical induces the “fight or flight” reaction in our brains, and blocks our ability to think clearly and at the highest level. In other words, if you are constantly telling yourself that everything is hard, you are setting yourself up for the kind of stress that prevents you from coming up with good solutions. You become stuck in a cycle of challenges with few solutions.
Did you know that your brain is hardwired to look for evidence that supports your beliefs, and discount evidence that does not support them? For example, if you believe you are a great tennis player, you will notice every good shot and take it as evidence that you are, indeed, a great tennis player. When you hit a bad shot, you will not focus on it, because your brain will tell you it’s a fluke, not your fault (the sun was in your eyes) or you’re just having a bad day. On the other hand, if you believe you are a terrible tennis player, and you hit the same number of good and bad shots as in the example above, your brain will put more weight on the bad shots, and discount the good shots as lucky.
The same is true in your business. If you believe that something in your business is hard, your brain will look for evidence to support that. The more evidence you see, the more you will feel defeated, dragged down, and unable to move forward.
What if, instead of saying “it’s hard” the next time you encounter an obstacle in your business, you say “I love a good challenge,” or “I’ve tackled harder problems than this successfully, I can figure this out too.” Does that feel different to you? It should! When you tell yourself an empowering story, a different chemical, called Oxytocin is released in your brain. This chemical opens up the part of your brain that leads to higher level thinking, and who doesn’t want to access higher level thinking?
I know that for many of you, saying “it’s hard” has become a habit, one that you say so often you might not even notice that you do it. The first step to breaking this habit is awareness. Try keeping a journal or a tally for a few days. Make a check mark every time you think or say the words. Count how often you say “it’s hard” or something similar. Once you become aware of it, you can make a plan to replace that thought with something more empowering. It might feel a little weird at first, but stick with it for a few weeks, and you will find that your new response is now automatic.
Once you stop saying “it’s hard” and start saying “I’ve got this” or “I can do this” or “I love a good challenge, bring it on!” the benefits will start rolling in. Your business will feel easier, work will feel more empowering, you will feel more energetic, and you will find solutions more easily.
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I’m wondering if any of you have experienced a shift in perspective that had a positive impact on your business results? I would greatly appreciate you sharing your story here!
YES! YES! and YES! Along the lines of thinking that business is hard, one of the beliefs I used to hold was that things need to be done one step at a time. This belief has been proven wrong to me over and over by mentors who show me alternative ways to get things done that allow me to leapfrog forward.
P.S. my favorite mindset shifting tool is my positive affirmation that is the password to my computer. I type it multiple times per day.
Love that, Sabrina! I need to keep that in mind next time I have to change some passwords!
Great article Donna! I love it! this is some of those things that may seen simple but if we applied to our lives it could have a HUGE impact. I will definitely start to using these words right now!!! “I love a good challenge”.
Rodrigo, that makes me smile just thinking about it!
Great information Donna. I have found that once I tell myself I can do something – it comes true. Thanks for empowering me to move forward in my business. I look forward to our calls every week!
You are welcome, Elizabeth! And feeling empowered is what its all about. Think about how much more we accomplish when we feel empowered vs. dejected. You ARE moving forward! :-)
Love the blog, Donna! So true that our subconscious mind is doing much more for us than we know. I also find that I am a happier person when I tell my brain that I can do it and get things done.
Something that has helped me when something is “hard” is to break it down into smaller achievable tasks. If the challenge is not understanding how to achieve that, I find an expert in the field who can help me break it down and actually execute those tasks.
I love reading your blogs as they always have actionable items in each one of them for entrepreneurs.
Niru I’m so glad that you love my blog :-) Thank you for saying that! And I love your advice for breaking down tasks and taking action when something seems hard. Taking action will definitely keep you moving forward!