Forget Studying with a Swami: 5 Self-Discoveries of Entrepreneurism

self discovery

Humans have been wrestling with their self-identities ever since they stopped worrying about being eaten alive by saber-toothed tigers.

Looking deep into ourselves to discover who we really are and what we’re really made out of is an exercise many experience at different times in life.

But while some climb mountaintops in India to study at the feet of a revered swami, I think trying your hand at entrepreneurism or running a small business is a far more cost effective way to really discover who you are. Coming up with an idea of commercial value and then taking all the steps required to realize that value will force you into discovering your true strengths and your true weaknesses.

Look at this list of five skills, talents and attributes you’ll hone as you start walking the entrepreneurial road to founding a successful small business.

The ability to visualize. Swamis and Eastern gurus will have you doing various meditation practices to develop your ability to visualize internally. When you conceive an idea and work to take it to market, you have to be able to see into the future and visualize how your product or service will best interact with consumers. You are truly creating something from the void and that requires real imagination and the ability to visualize.

An understanding of your place in the universe. As an entrepreneur you’ll quickly develop an appreciation of how small your efforts are when compared to the complexities of the universe – especially the business universe. To be successful, you’ll have to discover your place within this universe and put your personal stamp on it.

The ability to solve difficult riddles. A Zen Buddhist koan (philosophical riddle) asks, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” As you develop your entrepreneurial skills and establish your small business – with the intent to become a bigger business – you will be forced to solve equally paradoxical riddles, such as “How can I spend $1 and get a return of a $1.25?”

The ability to see the truth. People walk around with blinders or rose-colored glasses on all the time, refusing to see the truth that lies before them. Entrepreneurs and small business owners cannot afford this luxury. True truth is not judgmental; it just is. The important thing for an entrepreneur is to be able to recognize the truth, understand it and react to it properly. Use the truth to your advantage, the way a martial arts expert uses the movements of his opponent to gain an advantage. You can’t fight the truth.

An acceptance of your own limits. None of us alone comprises an entire “universe.” We are incomplete without others. Wise entrepreneurs and small business owners recognize their “incompleteness” and see it as an opportunity to develop relationships with others. This can involve finding the ideal co-founder, your first employees or creating strategic alliances with other businesses. The small business owner who chooses to “go it alone” is a lonely and incomplete small business owner.

I offer this list as both an encouragement and a word of caution. Should you decide to start your own small business – or you feel like you are struggling with your current small business – rate yourself on these qualities. Where do you need to improve? If you’re holding back and refusing to deal with some of your shortcomings, now is the time to let go and let yourself grow.