A while ago, I sat in a room with a group of entrepreneurs listening to Tony Nash share the story of how he built Booktopia into one of the fastest growing companies in Australia.
Tony reminded me of one of those wise yet wild-eyed inventors. He had this grounded enthusiasm about him that was both incredibly infectious and calming at the same time.
The Booktopia story is pretty well documented — generating $100M in revenue in 2017, making them Australia’s largest player in online book sales.
But what I found most intriguing was what Tony shared about entrepreneurship.
Any entrepreneur or business owner will attest that one of the biggest challenges in business is taming your mind and emotions. Business is an emotional rollercoaster, yet the size of the peaks and troughs are a function of your mind — not the events themselves.
The reality is, shit happens in business and life all the time. Depending on your temperament you either see the opportunity in adversity or you see rocks in the road.
Tony called this the entrepreneurial mindset. When bad things happen in Tony’s world, he knows in his bones a great opportunity is just around the corner. He doesn’t let the ups and downs get to him.
Think of the relationship you have with your car. You own your car. You might love your car. However, you are not your car.
Similarly, you are not your business. Every business owner reaches a point where their identity becomes so wrapped up in their business that one of two things must happen. They either implode, perhaps along with their business, and the chord of attachment gets painfully severed. Or they separate their ego from the company and realise they are an entity that exists outside of what they’ve become so attached to.
When you treat your business like a separate living, breathing organism — you see it differently. In the same way you are not your child — you look at your child and ask, what does she need right now? What would best support or challenge her? Objectively, you can see the answer more clearly than if you were looking at yourself in the mirror.
This is something I struggle with. I grapple with having my identity wrapped up in my business constantly — partly because I’m addicted to the work. The chemicals released into my body reinforcing my success as a business owner create a self-fulfilling prophecy that makes me continue to work myself to the bone. Like any junkie, every hit is never quite as good as the last, so I seek more and more.
One of the best practices I’ve found to release my real self (consciousness) from my identified self (the one writing you this note right now) is through meditation. If I’m lucky, I’ll find brief moments where I connect to a higher source of energy that lets me realise I am not my body, my mind or anything else I project into the world. I am potential energy in a quantum field of infinite possibility. The business that I’m a part of is, in fact, very separate from me. Then when I go back to it I’m hopefully, ever so slightly, less attached.
If I put that cycle on repeat for weeks, months and years, perhaps I’ll make just enough progress to let that soul of mine grow a little wiser in this lifetime, just like Tony’s.