Becoming an entrepreneur is a thrilling and challenging journey that's not for the faint-hearted. While taking the leap to start your own business, you need to understand that it's normal to experience a wide range of emotions throughout your entrepreneurial journey. From excitement to frustration and elation to despair, the emotional rollercoaster of being an entrepreneur is intense and ever-changing. However, developing emotional intelligence can help you better navigate the challenges ahead.
Understanding the Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EI) is a critical interpersonal skill that is essential to self-discovery and living a fulfilling and meaningful life. Comprised of self and social awareness and regulation, EI allows us to build a deep connection to our true selves; we can understand and heal unaddressed emotional wounds, respond vs. react, and better communicate and empathize with others.
When we develop a strong connection to self and realize our role in generating and managing our feelings and thoughts, we can see a path to self-liberation instead of feeling like a product of our circumstances.
Common byproducts of developing your emotional intelligence:
Reduced stress and anxiety
A sense of control
Better able to problem-solve
Greater resilience in the face of challenges
Enhanced creativity and innovation
More balance hormones
In some cases, reduced physical pain
Greater connection to true self (the essence of your being)
More calm, content, and peaceful
Guided more by intuition vs. habit and social norms
A sense of meaning and purpose in life
Self-love and acceptance
A child-like curiosity towards life
Tend to listen first
More intentional in work and decision-making
Receptive to feedback
Less likely to procrastinate
Less likely to abuse substances or numb emotional discomfort
Improved relationships with customers, employees, and business partners
Navigating the Emotional Rollercoaster of Entrepreneurship
From feeling overwhelmed by the workload to doubting your ability to succeed, the ups and downs of running a business can be dizzying. However, by understanding how your emotions influence your thoughts and behaviors (and vice versa), you can effectively manage them and stay focused on your goals.
Fear of failure: It's natural to fear failure when running a business and trying to ensure its success —often, a lot is riding on it. But the truth is, mistakes are an integral part of the journey. Without failure, there can be no growth or development. Having self-awareness and understanding that mistakes are part of life – and that they don't define our worth — can help us focus and approach difficult challenges with curiosity and humility.
Lack of confidence: As an entrepreneur, it's essential to have self-confidence so you can take risks and try new things without fear. Emotional intelligence (EI) can help you become more aware of yourself and those on your team, giving you the assurance to make decisions that will benefit your business. Knowing what strengths and weaknesses each person brings to the team can help you identify the best ways to move forward.
Feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the future: Staying grounded and focusing on the present moment is key to preventing the mind from getting lost in a mountain of to-dos and what-ifs. When we develop awareness, we notice when we are about to jump into the whirlpool of worry and uncertainty. Awareness paired with self-regulation will allow you to remain organized and mindful of potential opportunities, challenges, and solutions that may arise in the coming days without allowing troublesome thoughts to consume you. You focus on the task at hand, and when faced with a challenge or concern, you can reassure yourself that every problem has a solution—and that solution is much easier to discover when we can keep a clear head.
The struggle to balance life and work: In the early stages of starting a business, you're likely doing it all while also having personal obligations—balance may seem like a foreign concept. Even if we love what we do and have no grievances about working long days and on weekends, the same may not be true for our family and friends who feel like we have isolated ourselves from the rest of the world. A key element of emotional intelligence is relationship management, which includes empathy.
While your family and friends may never fully understand the sacrifices necessary for starting a business, it is also important to realize that waking up the next day is not guaranteed. So, if there are people who are important in your life, or you are sacrificing in hobbies or simple pleasure that make life meaningful to you, ensure you find some time, even if it's 30 minutes here and there, to engage with the people and things that you love. And when doing so, be fully present.
Tips for Developing Emotional Intelligence as an Entrepreneur
Practice self-reflection and identify your triggers and patterns of behavior.
Cultivate empathy and an understanding of others' perspectives and emotions.
Build resilience by framing challenges as opportunities for growth.
Practice mindfulness and meditation to develop self-awareness and focus.
Seek out feedback from others and use it to improve your emotional intelligence.
By prioritizing your emotional intelligence, you can enhance your decision-making skills, increase mental clarity, and become a more effective and resilient leader.