“Two Stories of Courage and the Entrepreneur Mindset” written by Bren Koger.
Stories of Courage
In my blog Optimism vs the Stockdale Paradox, I recount the courageous story of Admiral Jim Stockdale.
A prisoner in the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prisoner-of–war camp during the Vietnam War. He endured torture, isolation, and separation from his family for 8 years from 1965 to 1973.
When asked how he made it through this experience not knowing if he would survive his ordeal he says he “never lost faith in the end of the story.”
When asked who didn’t make it out alive surprisingly he said “The optimists.”
Meaning the men who said ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
He said, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
He confronted reality with action steps every day. While he and the other prisoners were in captivity he did everything he could to lift the morale and prolong the lives of his fellow prisoners. He developed a routine and created a tapping code so they could communicate with each other. He developed a milestone system that helped them deal with torture.
He continued his military career after his release from the POW camp in 1973, retiring as a Vice Admiral in 1979. He then served as President of The Citadel military college before becoming a fellow of the Hoover Institution think-tank on the campus of Stanford University from 1981 through 1996.
In another story of courage, Jamie Goldman tells how she survived 11 days trapped in her Chevy Blazer during a blizzard…
In 1987, Jamie Goldman then a 19-year-old college student was traveling home from a skiing trip with her friend Lisa. They took a wrong turn on a deserted road in Arizona where they found themselves trapped by a blizzard for 11 days!
They lived to describe this experience only because a man and his son, out snowmobiling, decided to investigate what they thought was an abandoned car.
At first they had feelings of frustration and anger.They talked and encouraged each other and had periods of silence and tears. but as time passed they developed a routine…
They would wake up each day and melt snow in whatever containers they could find: the sun melting it on the dashboard. They would massage each others cold, aching feet and wipe the snow form the car so they could be spotted.
After they were found Jamie had to have bilateral below the knee amputations from the severe frostbite.
Fitted with her first pair of “Cheetah” legs, Jami started running eventually she began to train and compete internationally, setting numerous world records and winning gold medals. Today, she has the rare distinction of being the only “double below the knee amputee” woman in the world to have finished a half marathon!
Relating the Stories to the Entrepreneur Mindset
Most of us will never know the courage it takes to endure the extreme test of mental strength that Admiral Stockdale and Jamie Goldman endured.
But as an entrepreneur, there are several lessons to be learned here.
The following tips gleaned from these stories will help you focus your entrepreneur mindset.
“Before a negative thought comes out, people must force themselves to make it positive.”-Jamie Goldman
The Entrepreneur Mindset Pushes Aside Thoughts of Failure
In both examples…
They deliberately had positive thoughts about their future. Their faith would go up and down, but ultimately they never lost hope. They knew they would survive and didn’t entertain other thoughts.
They developed a support system. Jamie and Lisa helped each other in turn. If one would become discouraged, the other one would be calming and vice versa. Admiral Stockdale continually rallied his men, which in turn gave him strength.
We cannot do it alone!
The Entrepreneur Mindset Has No Firm Deadlines
In both stories, they were willing to move back the expected time of their end result.
In other words, when they weren’t rescued in a week, they were willing to keep going with no idea when it would happen.
You may have started out your business thinking you would like to achieve a certain amount of leads, traffic or a financial goal by a certain time.
Are you willing to keep the goal in mind, but not be so set on the date that it’s accomplished?
Become Accustomed to Silencing Your Thoughts
They became accustomed to long periods of silence. How comfortable are you with just sitting and thinking?
Some of the best innovative ideas have come from long periods of silence and meditation.
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.” – Steve Jobs on meditation.
They both said they would not trade their experience. It’s made them a better person.
Know that whatever you’re learning while you are making your goal happen (Even the mistakes) It’s making you a better person.
Never doubt that you can achieve your goals, no matter how lofty they may be and how long it will take.
Don’t listen to the critics and naysayers, especially the ones in your own head. But at the same time, assess your situation and take inspired action steps every day.
And most important, enjoy the journey knowing that each step you are learning and growing along the way.
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