Motivation, the Key to Entrepreneurial Success!

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”-Andy Warhol.

If I, as your editor, was to judge my success in entrepreneurship, I would say it was a burning desire not to fail.  However, one acquires a motivation to pour sweat and effort into a startup business, it is the  necessary ingredient to succeed.  How else can a person preserve through valleys, solve problems, be creative and develop resilience without a strong desire to do so (aka motivation).  Introductory entrepreneurship builds confidence by making students present ideas, design a project, and learn leadership.  But, once out in the big world of commerce, it’s tough to navigate through set-backs.  We teach fail fast, fail often to promote learning.  We also can teach a nascent entrepreneur evidenced-based, lean startup which, when used properly, will yield a needed product or service.  But, how do we  teach the vague, ambiguous desire to be resilience and stay up-beat?

In an effort to provide this kind of training, I turned to positive psychology and found both Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s State of Flow.  The former  develops a hopeful feeling, thinking things will go well which, in turn, leads to achievement and better results.  The latter explains how a person performing some activity fully immersed generates a feeling of joy from a complete absorption in the activity.  A common denominator seems to be a meaningful purpose that call upon the person’s creativity and freedom to innovate.  Once an entrepreneur enters “the zone” or flow, the hyperfocus of the project changes any negative thoughts using the ability to change thoughts and circumstances.

This week I was exposed to another psychological approach called Mindset Over Motivation by Dr. Nathaniel Mills from Sacramento CA, a clinical professor at UC Davis School of Medicine and Faculty-in-Residence at the Carlen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He builds motivation to stay-on-track by using the IUAP prioritization exercise analyzing three questions: (1) What needs to be done and am I ready to do it?, (2) Is it worth the risk? and (3) Am I smart/talented enough to do it?  By using a graph to chart the importance, urgency, and anxiety scores for project activities, the person can assign numeric priorities. Each category -importance (I), urgency (U) and anxiety (A) rates individual activities by 1 to 5 to fix a total priority score for each task or project to determine the most important activity to do next.  Mills approach keeps  one absorbed, peaked for optimism, and working on the most important activity at the present time.

By courtesy of the Carlsen Center at Cal State Sacramento we offer the full 30-40 minutes presentation for a broader understanding of Mindset Over Motivation…

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