Today’s guest contributor is Original Impulse founder, novelist and coach to writers, artists and entrepreneurs, Cynthia Morris.
Entrepreneurs, by our nature, are optimists. If we didn’t embrace a sense of hope, if we didn’t believe the unimaginable was possible, we would never start any business or venture.
But sometimes optimism can work against the hopeful creator, causing problems with its sunny sense of possibility. The final push to make your web site, business, book or product real in the world demands less optimism and more, well, reality.
Entrepreneurs live or die based on their ability to know when to swap optimism for reality. I recently launched my historical novel Chasing Sylvia Beach, and I discovered that the optimism that had fueled twelve years of writing didn’t belong in the launch pad.
Learn from the five kinds of optimism I saw in my launch and try these suggested cures.
I coach creative people – writers, artists, healers – and time optimism is one of the biggest Achilles’ heels that can bring a person down.
Time optimism can take many forms. Failure to accurately estimate how long things will take. Thinking you can do more in one day than is possible. Failure to take others’ time frames into account.
Entrepreneurs are famous for inaccuracies with time, and this can cause a lot of stress. I thought I allotted plenty of time to publish my novel. But I wasn’t taking into account holidays and the schedules of my designers and proofreader. When a collaborator says she’s taking her long-planned vacation while your project is on her desk, there’s not much you can do but wait.
My shipment of 500 books arrived a mere three days before the launch party. That was three weeks after I wanted the books, but at least I had them for the launch.
Cure: Give yourself an extra four-six weeks beyond what you think you is necessary. Stop adding extra stress and choose deadlines that give you some cushion for unexpected delays.
We become entrepreneurs because we have a vision that we believe will change the world. But we often forget that we’re not meant to do it alone. When preparing to launch my novel, as usual I hashed out a plan and started aligning things to move forward.
It wasn’t long, however, before I knew there was no way I could pull off a limited edition and a launch party by myself. When I identified specific tasks that could be delegated, I also discovered that I had friends who were perfect for these jobs. And, luckily, they were willing and able to help.
Cure: Get help. Identify pieces of the project that can be delegated and ask who would love to help. Then call and ask for help.
Smoothly functioning optimism
I’m so guilty of this. I expect things to run smoothly. I didn’t expect my application to the iBookstore to be rejected five times because my EIN didn’t match their records. I had to get on the phone with the IRS (fun!) and request a copy of my company’s file. After scanning and sending to Apple, I got word that my business name didn’t match what they had on their file. Argh!
Expecting things to run perfectly is a sweet form of optimism that will repeatedly cause unnecessary frustration.
Cure: Expect glitches. Develop a sense of humor and lightness when things go wrong. Become optimistic about your ability to respond to any problems that arise.
Big brain optimism
When we’re planning our product or program launch, we get busy with schedules and task lists. We calendar our tasks, set our deadlines and get to work.
But we forget that we’re not just a big brain on caffeine. This optimism makes us overlook the very real contributions of our emotional and physical selves.
We forget that we need to pay extra attention to the practices that keep us running smoothly. We think we can operate on little sleep and fast food.
We don’t realize that there are tasks on our lists – asking for blurbs, getting peer feedback, going over the final versions of your work – that will inherently carry a lot of emotional drag. Much as we’re fueled by willpower, certain pieces of the project will call us forward physically, mentally and emotionally in ways we haven’t experienced.
Cure: Be holistic and honor you all of you. Maintain your exercise and good eating habits throughout the launch. In his book Uncertainty, Jonathan emphasizes this need to stay human – not a work machine – throughout the process. This reminder helped me to enjoy my launch much more.
Finish line optimism
Finally, there’s the finish line. Despite our wonderful optimism, we’ve made it to the end. Our new web site, our shiny new product, or our book has made its debut into the world.
But what happens next? We’ve trained our sights on the finish line for so long that we’ve forgotten that there’s something beyond that horizon. We forget to schedule follow up processes. We forget to schedule a break for ourselves. We get to the end and after a day or two, we’re deflated from all that effort and energy.
Cure: Plan extra self-care for the weeks following your launch. Plan at least the first two to three months’ actions post-launch. Put vacations and celebrations into the calendar.
Keep adjusting your optimism
I’m glad my launch is over, and that nothing blew up, burned down, or broke beyond repair. The biggest thing I learned was how to consistently re-calibrate my optimism and expectations. I had to release a lot of my big, brilliant ideas.
But rather than feel disappointment, I felt relief. I knew early on that just publishing my novel marked success for me. Identifying this core satisfaction allowed me to be happy even when my optimistic dreams didn’t pan out.
I’m still an eternal optimist, believing in books and new businesses and products that can change the world. But now my optimism has taken its proper place in my launches. I can not match a little realism with my optimism so my launches – and my everyday workflow – run more smoothly.
Do you recognize any of these kinds of optimism? Or have your own?
Share them and your cures in a comment below.
Cynthia Morris believes in the power of big dreams and works to help others launch their great work into the world. Through her company Original Impulse, she coaches writers, artists and entrepreneurs to feel satisfied and successful.
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