“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” – Ernest Hemingway
Starting a business is like taking up an extreme sport. Both seem like adventures as you draw parallels when it comes to the sheer thrills, the excitement, the competition, physical & mental challenges, risks, controllable and uncontrollable outcomes.
1. KNOW THE INS AND OUTS OF YOUR BUSINESS
You must know how to survive in your sport before you dive into it. Same goes for business, you need to know everything that’s related to your product, market, audience and more by emphasising on your hard skills and capabilities like knowledge and expertise. Be prepared to undertake your own research, hire a consultant and regularly follow the right forecasters and trendsetters. There are no shortcuts. It is critical that you should be fully aware of your surroundings and prepared to use the right tools when the situation requires it.
2. FOLLOW YOUR HEART BUT DON’T FORGET TO USE YOUR HEAD
Some leaders say this heart stuff is too soft and fluffy and not sufficiently actionable for a growing business. But remember, your heart fuels your performance and sustains you amid adversity. Lorrie Norrington, former president of eBay Marketplaces says, “The heart really matters in leadership. Without heart, it isn’t possible to create passion, dedication, and lasting change in your business.”
Undoubtedly, building a business needs your passion but also your brains. Being objective and equipping yourself with intelligence, experience and technical competence is essential to make just and smart decisions for the growth of your business. Strike a balance between the two, integrate your mental, physical and emotional prowess and it might just lead to inevitable success. As late Nelson Mandela once said, ‘a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.’
3. ASSESSING AND MINIMISING RISKS
We often think that extreme athletes are hedonistic individuals living on the edge with no care of risk or life but the opposite is true. Eric Brymer, a psychologist at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, has spent a decade studying experienced extreme athletes and his work suggests that many extreme athletes are the opposite of impulsive; not only are they careful and thoughtful planners, but they avoid thrill-seekers “like the plague,” he said.
High profile American extreme rock climber Alex Honnold, in an interview, was asked about his “risky” climbs. Alex replied that most people cannot distinguish between risk and consequence. Risk is a probability; a chance that something that might occur. By this definition, Alex concluded that none of the activities that he does are risky, as he would not attempt them if he was not sure he could do them. While on the other hand, Consequence is a separate measurement, one that defines what happens if one were to fail. In free solo climbing or base jumping, the consequence is almost certain death: falling to the ground.
With the ultimate goal being success, we can cue this as a lesson for you to make thorough mental checklists, know the difference between your possible risks and consequences, assess and minimise risks with strategic planning before taking the next possible step in your business.
4. DON’T BE SCARED TO MOVE OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
You never see extreme sports persons working or practicing repeatedly in the same place or targets for long. Push yourself and don’t fall into a work trap.
Gathering fearlessness is important, for it’s proven that comfort zones make you more lax, short-sighted, kills productivity and instills a belief that things cannot change. You don’t want that!
“There seems to be a link between that experience of fear and being able to move through it with the proper knowledge and expertise and training,” Brymer said. “Instead of fear stopping extreme athletes, it gets turned into this way of saying, Okay, I need to really pay attention and be serious here.” The presence of fear is, counter-intuitively, what ultimately gives them “the ability to move through fear … it’s part of what allows them to have these experiences.”
By taking risks in a controlled fashion and challenging yourself to things you normally wouldn’t do, being open to new ideas and less rigid in your thinking allows you to experience some of that uncertainty in a controlled, manageable environment and through a new perspective. This will lead to becoming more confident and effective when it comes to dealing with uncharted business territories.
5. 100% COMMITMENT
Daredevil kiteboarder, Jessie Richman says once he decides to take the jump, there’s no uncertainty- it’s 100% commitment. Whenever he wavered, even for a split second, he crashed. Commitment is key without which things would fall apart. You have to give it all you got, if you want to attain the entrepreneur equivalent of a gold medal, be it in your books or the worlds.
About the author: Megna Kalvani (Senior Manager – Global Learning & Student Life at SP Jain, Dubai)
Megna Kalvani is a Senior Manager for Global Learning & Student Life at SP Jain School of Global Management, Dubai Campus. Megna has completed her Masters in International Journalism from University of Central Lancashire, UK and has over 7 years’ experience in Education, Journalism, Social Media Marketing, & Community Engagement sectors. She has headed and organized events like TEDx University events, International Research conferences & symposiums, managed student clubs as well as formed partnerships with the industry & international organisations like Dubai International Film Festival, and Dubai Lynx Festival of Creativity among others