This past weekend I was reading a blog post by Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby) on Mastering Entrepreneurship. Derek wrote:
"After reading The Art of Learning, I was thinking of mastery : committing yourself to years of achieving mastery of one single thing. But - what the hell is mastery of entrepreneurship?
What are the building block ingredients to entrepreneurship? Coming up with ideas? Turning rough ideas into a specific written plan? Turning plans into a working system and specific goals? Working with people to ensure those goals are met?"
When i think about the skills needed to be a master of entrepreneurship the foremost is willingness to take risks. From quitting your day job to standing out from the crowd and doing something unconventional - entrepreneurs are risk-takers.
The question then is what are the simple practices that can develop
this necessary mindset and skill? In an earlier life I was the director
of an Outward Bound School and ran a seamanship and mountaineering course in Washington state.
When we would start with a group of students (travelling on the water
in a small open rowing and sailing boat) we needed to develop the
comfort level for taking risks. Later in the course
the students would be placed on a major peak ascent in the northern cascades and they needed to be ready (in their mindset) to take on what would be very real physical risks.
So we introduced several relatively safe risk-taking activities which were physically safe and yet pushed the students’ emotional comfort zones so that increasingly they would be ready to taking on more real challenges.
one daily practice was called ‘dipping’. we jumped into the ocean (50 degrees) every morning, first thing, without fail. On day one everyone resisted this practice. It can be pretty challenging to get up a lot of enthusiasm for jumping into cold water before the sun is up. But gradually we were able to transform this practice by giving it context and creating a culture and rituals and metaphors around ‘dipping’.
as people of the sea jumping in the water became part of our identity. if we played games and danced and chanted and basically warmed ourwelves up ahead of time - the practice became engergizing. it was the only way to get clean each day. it gave us a connection to the ocean that felt real. it greatly expanded our personal comfort zone and created more acceptance around other risks we faced.
and because we became used to being in the water it made us safer as traveler on the sea. and gave us courage to sail in rough weather.
it always came to pass that students in each would become a dipping evangelists - and work to sell the dip to others. even advocating double dips or triple dips and different times during the day. and when each group moved on into the mountains they missed the dips…
my suggestion for the entrepreneur seeking to become a master is to establish a regular practice of taking ’safe’ risks that will continue to expand your comfort zone and so that the practice becomes part of the entrepreneur’s identity.
my own risk-taking practices include improvisational theater — i work with a group that meets bi-weekly and we are challenged to create new responses in the present moment. I love this work because it always involves taking risks and being pushed beyond my comfort zone. It definitely hones my self-identity and skill as risk-taker.