The Long Haul

There’s a popular saying in the Jiu-Jitsu community with regards to belts and promotions: “the black belt is a white belt who never gave up.” It’s a powerful statement given that most white belts are more concerned about their next “promotion” than skill-development. Heck, some don’t even know the basic techniques and concepts they should be knowing to defend themselves let alone getting to the next level!

And here’s an interesting statistic — almost 80-85% of the folks who join a tough grappling art like Jiu-Jitsu or Sambo give up within the first 3-6 months. Of the remaining population, 95% of them give up right after achieving their blue belt because they aren’t willing to wait a lifetime to earn their black belts. The trade-off and effort isn’t worth their commitment and energy. But then, we’ve got regular folks with regular jobs sticking with the sport to not only earning their black belts but also going beyond it. Why? Because they enjoyed the process and were patient enough to experience and appreciate the person and martial artist they became during the process.

The martial arts analogy is perfectly complementary to some of the our life’s boldest pursuits. Entrepreneurship being one of them. We get all pumped up about it and want to change the world. Some of us quit our jobs and declare that “I’m open for business” and then crickets. We reach out to our networks, double down on the socials, and never stop talking about what we do and who we are. Months go by and you’re still surviving. Each day feels like a launch day — you’re all excited and redy to conquer the world at 9am but feel exhausted and defeated by 9 pm. The bills are racking up and you’re still waiting for your next “promotion” because all of this is just taking too much time. It wasn’t suppose to be this hard, right? The fact is, ownership at any level is hard.

There’s a reason why some of the smartest entrepreneurs of our time took calculated risks. They focused on building a side-hustle instead of going all-in. They channelized their energies to build a small but sustainable business that serves a specific type or two of clients than scale a multi-million dollar business. They added value to their networks and connections than post random thoughts on the socials. They dedicated themselves to a single platform as their home base (most likely their own website) for content instead of spreading themselves too thin. And most importantly, they actively worked on developing a solid sales and marketing plan and process in place and making it work every single day.

Yes, I know, it doesn’t sound sexy. But that’s the whole point. We’re all enamored with success when enjoying and experiencing the process is the real deal! You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? I believe working on mastering the basics is what helps an entrepreneur grow his business over the long haul. That’s where they should be spending their most time on. Hoping that you will be a million-dollar business in the first year is being stupid; unless, of course, you’ve got a ground-breaking product/service offering that’s going to question unicorns like Facebook, Google, Tesla, and Uber’s existence. And that’s not the case, at least, not as yet.

Striking it out on your own isn’t easy. It’s like being a while belt who hopes to become a black belt some day. After a solid hour’s worth of smashing, crawling, and pomelling at the dojo you can’t help but wonder when will that happen. Or would it ever? We now know that it really doesn’t matter when because if you stay focused on showing up, learning from the process, and doing your best, you will eventually get there. Nobody knows when. We entrepreneurs waste a lot of time thinking of our ultimate destination while completely missing out on the journey. It’s high time we realize the value of pausing often and enjoying the process to make the most of the journey ahead.

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