The concept of “mindfulness” has been all the rage recently. It’s a mental state “achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment.” You have to be there in body and mind, committed to every moment, and demonstrating your willingness to engage. It’s not an easy state to achieve, but the benefits are clear – you get to live every moment in real-time, making every second count.
What’s not to like? Well sometimes it’s necessary not just to live for the moment, but also for the future – even for the past.
Can you truly celebrate the moment for the sake of it if you are not sure in what direction you are headed? Spontaneity is all very well, but every entrepreneur or founder has to have plans. It’s nice to mark every step on the journey in its own special way, but ultimately, it’s still the success of the journey that counts. If you’re going to be spontaneous – it’s best to do so within an environment you have some control over. And that takes hard work.
First of all, if you want to have control, you have to be fair. Founders must establish boundaries – the limits of their sphere of influence – beyond which they do not have any control. They must learn to respect these limits and not encroach on other’s areas of jurisdiction.
They must also respect the fact that, although they are the person whose success their journey depends most upon, there are many others on the same or similar journeys and that by sharing experiences the group will stand a far greater chance of success.
That sounds like mindfulness – but not just mindfulness of other people – mindfulness of trends, of data, of gaps in the market, opportunities – an entrepreneur occasionally has to think of the actions of people simply as stepping stones on their path to achieving the growth of a company, for example.
Occasionally, if you are serious about achieving your vision and your goals you may find yourself at a crossroads where breaking the rules seems like the only option. It’s at times like these you are rubbing up against the limits of your company, which can feel unwise, or unwelcome, but in order to keep growing it’s crucial to keep pushing when you find yourself in a situation like this one…
Situations where, when you look at it rationally, there is no way out of a fix. That’s when the situation calls for a bit of mindlessness. Let’s be honest, you can only be rational so much of the time. Nothing great ever got done through rationality alone. What you need is a dose of unpredictable, disruptive, emotion. Passion.
Passion makes founders and entrepreneurs crazy, irresponsible risk-takers. Doing it for the love is the ultimate thrill. Passion is about ignoring the warning signals, and the signs saying “turn back”, looking the unfavourable odds square in the face and saying: “let’s do it anyway, I know we can make this work.”
And that takes mindlessness – the ability to temporarily suspend all rationality and live as though you are blissfully unaware of the risks involved, when in reality you know them all too well. The ability to drown out the chorus of protests from friends, colleagues, loved ones, the bank manager – hurt some feelings if you must – is what sets the true founder apart. Because you would only take a risk like that if you were sure you could spend every waking moment making it work, and making it happen. And only if you knew you couldn’t possibly make it on your own but had confidence that you could persuade others to join you, against the odds.
It’s a calculated risk – one that a truly mindful person might not take – but founders don’t mind disturbing something’s equilibrium if they think that something better can be achieved if they do. You can’t please everybody all of the time – you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs – every big journey begins with a small step etc., etc.
The point is, real founders are determined people who are building the future all the time – they never stop thinking about it. To them, mindfulness can sometimes be the equivalent of shouting “stand back!” or “timber” – people might think they are crazy – and some of them are.
Try to be mindful of the ones who deliver a palpable end profit.