This is another post in my Startup Lessons series, where I share a (very) personal insight on not only running a company but on “running” my own life – setting goals and achieving them. In this post again I would like to rely on the wisdom of my Kundalini Yoga teachers, without whom I wouldn’t be able to accomplish most things I’ve done in the past 4 years on my entrepreneurial path.
One of the most profound things I’ve heard from my teacher Sat Jivan Singh was about the act of worry, which all of us entrepreneurs tend to suffer from. Our business lives are full of instabilities, and worry sometimes even shadows our successes and milestone achievements. My yoga teacher said something very simple, nevertheless it completely changed my thought pattern: “Worrying is like praying for your worst fears to happen”.
Think about it for a moment. When you worry, you actually waste your imagination on creating the worst case scenario (or sometimes many of them). You think about every small detail that can go wrong, and paint picture so realistic, that it would only make sense now to happen. If you believe in the power of thought, you must know that an experience like that can be very powerful and not only affect your thinking patterns, but the reality itself. Understanding this simple formula was so powerful for me, that I actually started to notice the worrying thoughts even before they formulated into concrete scenes, and stop them at that point, or hopefully even earlier.
As an entrepreneur you can’t live by the mantra “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”, because there are too many “worst” things that could happen when you risk your life and career on one idea: your product could be having million bugs (they all do), your customers could be unhappy, your team might stop believing in you, your investors could be disappointed by you, your parents could annoy you with their “I told you so” and your friends could laugh at you by wasting all your time on building something they thought was stupid at the first place.
The truth is the only worst thing that could happen is you not realizing your potential. Everything else doesn’t matter.
You can’t realize your full potential if your imagination is busy preparing for the worst case scenario. For me, developing a positive and structured thought pattern was crucial to my success. It followed three important steps: 1) Having the most positive thoughts about yours and your company’s future, 2) Formulizing them into concrete milestones, 3) Making a commitment to pursue them, even if takes longer than you originally thought.