Hiten Shah: Smile or Die

Hiten Shah, a successful entrepreneur that I admire, has a great newsletter that you should subscribe to. Today, his message really hit home:

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principlesunto death.” – Thomas Paine

Life has a funny way of acting normal most of the time, and then one morning you wake up, and the ish hits the fan.

If you run your own company, this happens more and more often as you grow, and bump up against competitors, naysayers, patenttrolls, and other awesome varieties of troublemakers.

Anyone who tells you that this doesn’t totally suck and make you want to question life sometimes either hasn’t been at it long enough to dole out advice, or is completely bullshitting you.

The reality of running your own business isn’t as glamorous as it is made out to be; for starters, there are tons of highs and lows,and also a heaping amount of uncertainty—even when you’re doing well.

However, I promise there is a silver lining in all of this.

As it turns out, you do actually have a choice about how to deal with all of these experiences as an entrepreneur, and here it is: smile or die.

It may not seem like a choice—slap a grin on your face or perish—but there is actually an element of choice involved.

You see, you’re always going to have more obstacles in your path than you care to have; some will be seemingly insurmountable, but you overcome them and feel stronger for it. Then there are the ones that rock your world and threaten to throw you off course for a period of time.

So, where’s the choice?

Well, in how you handle those obstacles.

Do you learn from your mistakes and make sure they never happen again, or do you ignore the problem and hope it goes away quietly(hint: it never does)?

True power as an entrepreneur comes not in having a perfect trackrecord—it comes from effing it all up to the point of no return,then quietly reflecting and coming back with a smile on your face,happy that you’re getting a second shot.”

The message here is plain and simple: starting a company is easy, but growing it and facing adversity everyday is the hard part. Theres no glamour, although the media often makes it seem that way. As I wrote in my post last week, you absolutely have to stick to your vision, learn from your mistakes, filter out the noise, and execute. 


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