Riding mechanical bulls is a lot like entrepreneurship. I happen to have ridden a lot of mechanical bulls in my youth, so I know a bit about them. Long story short, they’re not predictable. Mechanical bulls are not designed for people to stay on them. Neither is business.
Stick with me here. I have a master’s degree in this and have created two successful companies (one that failed, one that succeeded). Why do I consider both of them to be successful? Because I learned from both experiences.
So, how does the whole bull thing apply to entrepreneurs? I’ll tell you.
Starting a project and expecting to consistently make the right choices until your project becomes the next Uber is . . . well, like chugging the rest of your beer, pressing the start button, and assuming you’ll stay on the dang bull the first time you give it a try.
I have news for you. You WILL fall off the dang mechanical bull. Everyone does. Every company does. Every solo entrepreneur does. Every human does.
Life, in general, is going to eff you and/or your business up from time to time. External factors that are beyond your control will inevitably throw you off the mechanical bull.
You’ve heard this before. We all need to hear it repeatedly. Your ability to adapt and get back on the dang bull is the most important skill you can have. All data suggests that if you hit restart, get into that warzone, and down just one more enemy every time you perish, you’re more likely to succeed than the average Joe.
Having been a personal trainer for many years in my twenties, I saw many people set out to lose weight. (Incidentally, this was the impetus for my most fantastic business failure — Fit 2 U personal training). Do you know what’s interesting about all of those clients that wanted to lose weight? Not a single one of them ever stayed perfectly on their workout and nutrition plan. Every single one of them got off track at some point.
The ones who succeeded were the people who didn’t throw in the towel when they made a mistake. They put in another quarter and climbed back into the saddle. Because, the longer anyone, individual or massive company, lingers in the past or becomes complacent with the status quo, the more of a sitting duck they become. Resilience is everything.
Do you know what else is everything? Adaptability. If the bull swerves to the right when you don’t suspect it, you have to lean right as well or that bull will toss you off onto some dude’s Miller Lite. Whether you like it or not, you will always have to adapt to external forces. If you adapt, you stay on the bull just a little bit longer. That little bit could make all the difference.
No matter how successful you are at adaptation, something will still always happen. A global pandemic will shut down your industry, your mother-in-law comes to stay for a month, a competitor makes your product completely obsolete, you break down and eat an entire pint of ice cream, or you suddenly have to deal with a health issue.
Life. Happens. Big, small, serious, funny, and ridiculous life things happen. You will fall off the bull.
The longer you stay on the dang floor, the longer you stare defeatedly at the blinking screen, the less likely you are to succeed in life and in business. End of story.
Walt Disney, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs — they all fell off the bull. They all were shot down numerous times. But they all got back up as soon as possible.
More than 50% of startups fail within the first four years. How do you increase your chances if statistically, you’re literally flipping a coin by starting something new? (I know, I know, everyone thinks their idea is a special flower and will be the ONE thing that is guaranteed to succeed. That’s great. So does everyone else).
Well, you work hard, adapt, and give it a try. But guess what? If it doesn’t work, flip the coin again. Hit restart. Get back on the bull.
This week for me was very difficult for many reasons. This week, I was thrown off the bull and thrown hard. I took a day and a half to tend to my injuries (self-care is also important). It’s 6 am on a Saturday and I am officially hitting restart. I am back on the bull.
Everyone fails. That is how life works. The sooner you get back into the saddle, the better off you will be.