Out of Control and Level Headed

“Within the first few months, I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.”, this from President Harry Truman.

Every entrepreneur is the president of their company and they all ride their respective tigers.

Entrepreneurship is high adventure. It is black and white Tarzan in the jungle type adventure. So much danger. Such a rush. Mysterious, deadly and possibly holding breathtaking jewels…if only discovered.

In running your own business, you are going to encounter all kinds of bizarre and ridiculous situations that you could not script for a screenplay, as they would seem ridiculously implausible. The world becomes a surreal place when you are doing the heavy lifting of creating a company. In committing to your adventure, obstacles come your way almost immediately. As you ride your tiger, branches swat at your face, objects hurl past your head. When you dive into the entrepreneurial experience, your stress and responsibilities immediately increase and you, as founder, become a magnet for other peoples’ needs and conflict. Sometimes the number of keys on your key chain increase, which is coupled with more responsibilities and risk.  All together considered, one can find themselves in a prolonged and emotionally draining tizzy. In terrible moments, how do you keep your eyes open and not fall off of the tiger, only to be devoured?

Simple answer is that you have to maintain a level head. Sounds simple, right?

Now a level head does not mean that you don’t feel any emotions. You may be experiencing a wild fire works show of fear and feel the cold rising flood waters of doubt. Despite the sky falling all around you, you can maintain your focus enough and muster enough cool to make a steady stream of choices and to navigate out of the chaos. In brief, despite your emotions, you can operate effectively and you can lead.

How? You focus on needs. Entrepreneurs are like firefighters in that they never have a full understanding of a conflict (or fire) until they are in it. It is then there job to put out fires before they destroy too much. Here is an example of focusing on needs: The building is burning. I NEED to exit. I am running for the exit. I hear a cough. I NEED to find this person. I NEED to save this person. Done. Now we NEED to exit.

If this person focused on their being a victim in a bad fire, they might have let their fear overwhelm them and would not have made it out of the crisis.

When you are in crisis mode, focus on your needs and work to achieve those. Eventually, you will exit your respective land of chaos. No land on this planet goes on forever. They all have a beginning and an end.

And for perspective, survived tribulations have a way of strengthening one’s spirit. The greater the obstacles overcome, the stronger, more able and wiser one becomes. Hopefully.

Jim Hart is the founder of Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts and The International Theatre Academy Norway

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