Why Starting At The Bottom Will Get You To The Top

One of the factors critical to a successful mindset in entrepreneurship is how you respond to obstacles and setbacks.

To be effective at whatever it is you choose to take on, you must devise a blueprint for how to effectively come back from the inevitable difficulties that come with the territory of walking the entrepreneurial path.

Here are mindset shifts for turning setbacks into layups.

1.) Start At The Finish Line

Rip a page out of Stephen Covey’s book and “begin with the end in mind.” Conceive and define the optimal endpoint to your goal.

Remember when Alice asks the Cheshire Cat for directions? “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” he replies. When she explains that she doesn’t much care where, he lets her know that it doesn’t matter which way she goes because if she walks long enough, she’s bound to get somewhere…

This is the sort of unproductive aimlessness people face if they haven’t determined what success means to them. (“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll)

Once you’ve defined success, you have an architecture. All the small choices and inferior components have been made for you once you know where you want to go. 

Envision your Ideal Final Result, set sail, and correct course along the way.

So what is an Ideal Final Result?

Your IFR is the ultimate solution free of any constraints from your original problem. It’s the absolute perfect outcome of whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve.

Ideality is the top of the mountain. It is your Everest. It is when you’ve maximized the positives and eliminated all of the negatives, with no strings attached to whatever it is you’re currently facing.

BuT nOtHiNg Is EvEr PeRfEcT!

Thank you for that newsflash. Now that we’ve got that piece of weapons-grade obviousness out of the way, we can get to the point of ideality.

The rationale behind striving for the IFR gets you thinking outside of the box. When you’re up against a seemingly impossible task, your mind begins to swim with creative solutions to obstacles.

If your goal is in fact impossible, what’s to stop you from attempting the unusual and seemingly crazy?

Your vision of the Ideal Final Result removes the barriers to success – both real and perceived – and forces you to consider alternative routes up the mountain.

Focusing on the IFR helps to spotlight the perfection and leaves the limitations backstage.

If you’re aiming for flawlessness, then you can more easily reject the less-than-ideal solutions.

When you discard options that do not meet your IFR criteria, you’re forced to color outside the lines with your concepts.

How do I come up with an IFR?

Two opposing concepts can help you here.

You can discover your IFR by

a.) dropping every logical limit and letting your imagination run wild with possibilities, 

or b.) imposing some very strict limitations in order to shift your creativity into seeking alternatives.

a.) No limits

The best way of coming up with a great idea is to brainstorm a bunch of ideas.

Your first idea is rarely your best one, so throw down the gloves and get creative.

The initial half of a brainstorm sesh usually results in very linear and logical concepts. 

But when you force yourself to come up with as many ideas as possible, you will start to run out of “realistic” ones, and that’s when the real magic happens.

Pay attention to the ideas that stir emotions such as laughter, scoffs, or gasps, because that means you’re getting somewhere.

Don’t worry about quality; focus on quantity. Write down as many schemes, angles, solutions, and possibilities as you can, without judgment, because judgment throws off your momentum and discourages imagination.

Craziness opens the door to new ideas that you’ve never even thought of. In fact, they’re to be encouraged.

The crazier, the better.

b.) Impose limits

Limits promote creativity.

One technique for fostering ingenuity is assuming that you have zero budget to accomplish this task.

How can you make this happen without spending anything? A limitation like this forces you to squeeze out every drop of creativity by turning inward to look at all of your available resources.

Imposing arbitrary limits causes you to look for substitute tools in order to achieve the same objective.

2.) Every Problem Has Already Been Solved.

An important nugget to keep in your back pocket comes from Ecclesiastes 1:9 – “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Once you accept this, the pressure to invent something completely new evaporates. Instead, focus your efforts on finding a successful pattern and reinterpreting it with your own vision. (R&D – Rob and Duplicate.)

Your problems are not unique, no matter how exclusive you think they may be.

Every problem has already been solved.

Realize that for every roadblock, there is a stick of dynamite out there that will blow it to pieces.

How do I find the solution?

Since your dilemma is not original, that means somebody somewhere has already crushed it.

A fast track to a solution is to seek out others who have faced your same problem.

If you can’t find anyone – which isn’t because no one’s ever come up against your particular problem, because they have – don’t give up. Instead, look elsewhere.

Where else to look?

Oftentimes, the answer you need is not found within your industry.

Every problem has a pattern, a pattern that repeats itself across all businesses.

It may not share the same details, but it does share the same underlying characteristics.

If you’re struggling, try asking for advice from someone who is not your direct competition.

Connect with someone in a completely different field to find out if they’ve encountered anything similar to what you’re up against. Since you won’t be taking away any of their market share, they will be much more comfortable giving you advice.

“We face the same problems but solve them in our own ways.” – James Michener

Attending conventions outside of your niche is a great way to discover practices and techniques not being utilized within your own.

These are unleveraged assets just waiting to be found.

People who strictly attend conventions within their own industry are listening to the exact same things as everyone else there. It guarantees they will follow the crowd and imitate their competitors. This is the express lane to obscurity.

Dare to break out and explore solutions where nobody else in your field is looking. This is the express lane to infamy.

Exploration makes one wiser; even if the only wisdom gained is to know where not to return.” – Tommy Dewar

3.) It’s all a game.

When you look at the world through this lens – that it’s all a game – you stop taking things personally.

Thinking of your endeavor as a game helps to remove your ego from the equation. It shifts your perception from the internal to the external.

This not only gets you out of your own head, it redirects your attention.

Instead of stewing over your shortcomings, you concentrate on maximizing your strengths to get you to that next level.

You mad, bro?

When a quarterback gets sacked, they don’t take offense to it; they reevaluate what went wrong. If they want to throw downfield, they have to learn from their mistakes instead of pout over them.

We’re not saying don’t get mad.

No, you can get mad about a setback. But focus that anger on taking another run at it, or tackling it from a different angle, or redefining it.

Direct that passion outward to achieve results and not inward to beat yourself up over your shortcomings.

Worry is a useless emotion.

Worrying offers no positives and only serves to compound the negatives.

If there’s a problem and you can do something about it, then do it, and quit worrying. If there’s nothing you can do about the problem, then how is worrying going to help? 

Focus your energy on finding a solution instead of being stressed about a lack of solutions. There’s no time for crippling yourself with anxiety when you’re in the trenches.

No matter what happens, the sky is not going to fall, and the world is not going to end. 

When you’re in game mode, what needs to be solved gets solved, and you needn’t waste precious energy worrying over the elements out of your control.

Stick and move.

Change your prescription.

It’s all in how you look at it. Failure is not a personal attack; it’s feedback. You didn’t lose money; you paid for a valuable lesson. You didn’t screw up; you just found a way that didn’t work.

Switching your viewpoint changes up your odds. You can turn a problem on its head by adjusting the way you look at a situation.

When you view your struggle as a game, you become proactive instead of reactive.

You focus on moves and countermoves. You strategize. You execute.

You even start to have some fun.

One more time

Start from the finish line.

Every problem has already been solved.

It’s all a game.

That terrible excuse for a haiku may break the rules, but breaking the rules is also how you discover new ways of doing things.

Keep these three points in mind the next time you’re facing a problem, and – guaranteed – you WILL find a solution.

You might even start to enjoy the challenge. Good luck out there.