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“Whoever said love is easy, must has never been in love.” A good relationship should fit you like a glove, right? But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take work to put it on and groom it clean! On a similar note, most people would love to become entrepreneurs working for themselves instead of having someone breathing down their neck…but why aren’t they ditching their jobs? Because working for yourself, starting a company, takes a lot of work too.
It may be easy for some to separate business to be the ‘matters of the mind’ and relationships to be ‘matters of the heart’, if they’d like to compartmentalize their lives like that. But for me, my career is the love of my life, and the love of my life is my career (and not in a trophy housewife kind of way) – they are both matters of the heart AND the mind to me! The way I see it, you need passion to drive the business mind, and you need sense to guide the passionate heart, to achieve optimal outcomes in both scenarios. So as much as some might accuse me of over-applying business analogies on relationships, I’m still going to go out on a limb and say that building a happy relationship is just like building a startup:
- You need to have your own strength and core before you are ready. This may sound tongue-in-cheek, but if you fall apart without a relationship, you are not ready for a relationship. Only when you are complete, content and happy with yourself, will you have the mental and emotional capacity to love and receive love from someone else, unconditionally – which is the core foundation of a happy and healthy relationship. The same goes with startups. It’s perfectly fine to get out there and talk to people about your vision and ideas, but few investors or potential partners will likely come on board until you have a solid business plan, product prototype or existing clients. The more self sufficient you are, the more attractive you are – to the opposite sex as well as to the business world.
- You need to put yourself out there and market the best version of yourself, constantly. Looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend? It’s probably not gonna help if you just sit alone in your room pondering about how great you are and yet why you are still alone. Waiting for Prince Charming or Cinderella to be dropped off on your doorstep? Yeah…unless the UPS driver has a crush on you and you happen to like him/her too, that’s probably not gonna work either. For the best results, you really need to go out regularly with your friends, go to community meetups and singles events, get a good profile up on several popular dating apps…sounding really familiar with the endless networking events and conventions, investor meetings and the multi-media marketing packages that most successful entrepreneurs are leveraging these days?
- You need to work hard in finding the RIGHT people who REALLY understands you and caters to your needs (and vice versa). For a good relationship to work, chemistry, core values and willingness to compromise need to match between both partners. If you think about it, these core criteria are not that different from what you would use to assess potential clients, investors, partners or employees, are they? Also, this rule of thumb applies to both areas (most of the time): don’t ever take the first offer (read: don’t marry your first boyfriend, or take the first bid that comes along for building your website). In general, shopping (dating) around within reasonable boundaries helps you gain clarity on what you REALLY want (as opposed to what are really just nice-to-haves), and be ready when the real best offer comes along. Don’t worry about missing that first offer either – in love as well as in business, have faith just like my wise friend Perpetua – accomplished wife, mother, entrepreneur: “If something does not belong in your life, it won’t matter how much tighter you hold on, it’ll leave you eventually; but if something is meant to be in your life, even if you let go, it will find its way back one way or another.”
- You need to overcome a significant amount of fear to make a commitment. “If you haven’t tried, you’ll never fail.” Hence why some people are afraid to make relationship commitments such as becoming exclusive, labeling each other boyfriend/girlfriend, or getting married. The same mentality applies to people who are always thinking or talking about starting their own companies but never take the leap of faith – out of fear of failure. The thing is though – if you’ve ever tried bungee jumping or sky diving, you know: the longer you wait, the more fear builds up. Ask yourself: do you really want to disappoint your soul mate and end up alone for your life? Do you really want to look back on your life and shamefully realize that you never even attempted at your biggest dreams? Do you really want to be that last diver who got back to ground in the plane cabin because you were too afraid to jump?
- But the good news is: once you make the commitment, you will usually soon realize how most of those fears were unfounded and that the rewards greatly outweigh the risks! Is this a good time? Do I have enough money? What if I fail? As Perpetua puts it: “Fear is mostly based on scenarios we make up in our minds before things unravel – but once we take action, we’ll find that more often than not, those ‘scenarios’ seldom really happen!” As someone who’s successfully taken up multiple roles in life, Perpetua certainly knows a lot more ‘scenarios’ than a lot of us do. The secret to such a full and happy life she’s living today? She had the same fears we all have, but instead of getting stuck with fear, she went ahead and took action anyway. Sometimes, all it takes is action to dissolve your fear – so just go get married or go register that new company alright. If it’s the right opportunity, you’ll soon be so busy with your happy family life or your busy entrepreneur schedule, that you’ll practically forget all about the fears you started out with; even if it doesn’t work out, my friend, trust me, you’ll have learned so much to offer your next love partner, or you’ll have an amazing experience to share at your next job interview! The worst case scenario is never as bad as you think; and the best case scenario? It just gets better and better each day you work at it.
Remember: true confidence is not blind optimism; true confidence is taking action after well calculated risks, and believing that you and the people in your life will be strong enough to survive even the worst case scenario – in love or in entrepreneurship.