How Putting too Much Pressure on Ourselves Holds us Back

Part of being an entrepreneur is wanting to try new things all the time. Try out new ideas, start new businesses, learn new skills, etc. But then when said new things don’t come naturally to us, we get frustrated. Why aren’t we good at these things right away? What can’t we figure it out? Other people do.

This constant pressure we put on ourselves is not only unfair, but it’s also unhealthy. In a recent episode of Psychology of Entrepreneurship, I spoke with the amazing Kelsey Ramsden, who said something that really gave me an ah-ha moment. She said, “Competency is fluid”. Now, what does that mean?

It means that no one is instantly good at anything unless you’re gifted with a rare talent, of course. The rest of us have to work at things before we become experts at them. So how do we increase our competency? Practice.

 

Practice Creates Muscle Memory

When we think about practice, the first things that come to mind are probably things like training for a sport or learning an instrument. But in reality, we need to practice everything that we want to someday be an authority on. That applies to being a boss, being a partner, being an owner of a company, whatever it may be. The more you do something, the more you practice at it, it literally becomes part of your being, part of your makeup.

This relates to the pressure we put on ourselves because we have unrealistic expectations of what we can be good at it, and when we can be good at it. And why are we like that? Well most of us grew up in an educational system that as Kelsey put it “is set up for checkmarks” and “judges us, but not for what we’re good at”. 

We’re taught to memorize facts, regurgitate those facts to score well on tests, and repeat. We’re never taught to value, cherish and nurture those things about ourselves that make us unique. The very things we should be putting all our energy into.

 

It's Not What You Know, It's How You Think

This is another great quote from Kelsey from this episode. “It’s not what you know, it’s how you think.” We can read all the books in the world, and soak up so much knowledge, but knowledge doesn’t equal wisdom. Wisdom comes from being able to flip the script and looking at things from a different angle to find the answer. 

Which brings me to this

Our perspective has so much to do with how much pressure we put on ourselves. If you think something has to be a certain way, if your business has to make a certain amount of money by a certain time, or you have to noticed by a certain organization or award to make you feel worthy, you’re constantly going to be setting yourself up for failure. 

I realize it’s not an easy thing to just change your entire way of thinking. Which brings us back around full circle. How do you begin to tweak the way you think? Practice. You start slow. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself or the journey you’re on, you switch it. 

Replace one negative thought with a positive one, and begin there. “I’m not where I thought I’d be” turns into “I’m farther than I was at this time last year.” “I’m not making any money doing things this way” turns into “Now I can try something new”. Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s an extremely basic concept that can make a monumental difference in how you see your life, your business and ultimately yourself.

 

Pressure is Inevitable, How we Handle it is Relative

No one ever said being an entrepreneur is easy, in fact, everyone says the opposite. So the pressure is going to be there. And unfortunately, the more successful we become, the more pressure gets piled on. Maybe there’s nothing we can do to change that. 

What we can change is how we react to it.

How? Practice. Practice reacting differently when things go wrong, when things go differently, or even when things go right. So you don’t necessarily have to change your expectations, just how you respond when your expectations aren’t met.

The Psychology of Entrepreneurship

For more of Kelsey’s insightful thoughts and my reactions to them, check out Psychology of Entrepreneurship podcast hosted by Ronsley Vaz and with special guest Kelsey Ramsden.

Author: Ronsley Vaz

Ronsley is the founder & chief day dreamer at AMPLIFY. He is an author, speaker & serial entrepreneur.

He has a Masters’ degree in Software Engineering and an MBA in Psychology and Leadership. He is known as the creator of We Are Podcast – the first Podcasting Conference in the Southern Hemisphere, and the host of The Bond Appetit Podcast and Should I Start a Podcast. He has an audience of over 3 million in 133 countries.

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