Magic Wands, Unicorns & Other Mythical Thinking of Entrepreneurs

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Who hasn't made a wish while blowing out a candle or breaking a wishbone? Mythical thinking, loosely defined as a story or a tale, can't be proven. Lacking any real facts, this type of future thinking is used to explain the world around us. Fundamental to all human beings, the notion of mythical thinking never really leaves us.

What does this mean for small business?

Don't Feed The Unicorn

Small business entrepreneurs are an optimistic bunch. Most have never met an opportunity they couldn't leverage or a problem that couldn't be solved immediately.

On the other end of the spectrum, some business owners are more cautious and risk-aversive with their own unique brand of mythical thinking.

Mythical thinking also exists in the minds of our clients, as in the case of expectations of your services. It's a potential source of conflict, controversy, and churn when it goes unrecognized.

Sadly, mythical thinking gets us in trouble. Void of any facts, it's subjective, less direct, and based on individual feelings. Plus, mythical thinking creates a gap between expectations and reality that is a real stress antagonizer.

Hit a dead end and watch the uprising of mythical thinking. It's the fertilizer of bad ideas. It propagates when we believe that everything will be different, even though we perform the same actions.

Did you get "lucky?" When a breakthrough that "seems" to come out of nowhere is attributed to "luck" outside of oneself, mythical thinking flourishes.

Ah, yes, but what does mythical thinking look like in real life? Some of the more common phrases lurking in the minds of an entrepreneur include the following:

  1. If I build it, they will come.

Most entrepreneurs aren't going to blurt this out - at least not in public. However, actions - or lack thereof - indicate an expectation that a yellow brick road will rain forth crowds to their storefront (or website).

  • I'm suppose to know all there is to successfully build a business.
  • Egad! No one wants to look like a fool, especially in front of a potential client, and certainly not in front of another entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs are masters of their craft, not entrepreneurs.

  • I've got to do it all - myself.
  • Well, this just sounds plumb crazy as you read it, doesn't it. Yet, a majority of entrepreneurs fear others cannot, or will not, do the job as well as they can/will.

  • I need to work 24/7 for my business to succeed.
  • Yes, and....as we say in comedy improv. Hard work is an important piece of the success equation - as is working smart.

    Working more than 60 hours a week is not a badge of honor or anything that is deserving of applause. That brand of mythical thinking played well during the post World War II Industrial Age. Today, it is a major cause of burnout and a contributor to a health crisis.

  • I "have to" follow established business practices.
  • You would be surprised how many entrepreneurs feel the need to follow in step with what the so-called experts say. Although there is wisdom to be gleaned from those who have walked before you, there is a distinct trademark of creativity that you bring to your business that cannot, and should not, be dismissed.

  • This is the way we've always done it.
  • Wow! As fast as the marketplace is changing, we can hardly afford to do things the same way two days in a row without the risk of loosing relevancy.

    Sadly, this kind of mythical thinking prevents entrepreneurs from reaching out for the support they need to succeed.

    Keep Calm & Analyze

    Entrepreneurship, and its accompanying success, is anything but mythical. Entrepreneurship is a learned skill. It requires logical thinking based on scientific and/or empirical data. Facts, controlled experiments, and rational evidence (like key performance metrics) contribute to the objectivity needed to succeed in the world of entrepreneurship.

    Each day in the life of an entrepreneur is a clean slate, allowing a fresh, new start.

    So, arm yourself with your magic sword and let's slay some dragons!

    Magic Wands, Unicorns & Other Mythical Thinking of Entrepreneurs first appeared on Synnovatia's small business growth blog.

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