Optimism is not a trait I hear coming out of Ireland right now. As I talk to people in Ireland, the words “negativity and depressed” comes up way more than the words optimism or fearless. It could be a problem and one that we need to address quickly.
Many of the Irish entrepreneurs I meet have lots of optimism but they are also nagged by a fear of failure which diminishes the optimism. There is a sense that a failure in a new venture will haunt them and continue to show up on the “permanent record”. If that is true, we need to change that mind set. Failure in a new venture could mean that the market wasn’t ready or that the technology wasn’t quite right or any number of variables dictated by the phases of the moon and international events.
The attitude of an entrepreneur and the culture that fosters them is more like, “what’s the worst that can happen to me if this idea/company doesn’t fly? I’ll just learn from it and do it again.”
Friends and family can be your worst enemy when it comes to maintaining entrepreneurial optimism. They will question all decisions and suggest you get a “real job”. Entrepreneurs must embrace the belief of success, ignore the negative, and never give up. Any feelings that failure is inevitable and my life is over are to be ignored.
They say that it is possible for an entrepreneur to be successful without capital – just use your credit card. They say you can find success without a plan – every day makes for a new plan. Who cares about marketing, HR, finance and all the other staff functions? An entrepreneur doesn’t pay attention to those things. But there is a secret sauce that is critical to success – optimism. An entrepreneur needs to believe, without equivocation, that the company will be successful. The optimism could be irrational, but without it, chances of success are diminished.
There are lots of optimistic companies with operations in Ireland. Maybe it will rub off. The Irish do not lack that most critical arrow in the entrepreneur’s quiver – optimism. We just need to exercise it more and kill the fear of failure.
Once, when I was having an entrepreneurial crisis of self doubt, my good friend (who is not Irish) once told me to “Get your Irish up”. He meant get mad, be optimistic, take a risk and get something done.
Come on Ireland, get your Irish up. Get optimistic.
This is the second in a series of articles by Rich Moran. The first article was entitled “Entrepreneurship Is About Action“.