Earlier this year, I arrived in the parking lot of a client, dreading having to go in.
It was a government contract, and I was conducting what felt like focus group #387 with a group of politicians that didn’t seem all that interested in making the changes I knew they needed to make.
So, naturally, I was grumpy. I didn’t want to go in. It was a beautiful day out and I wondered whether anyone would notice if I just turned around and headed for the beach.
That’s when I got a call from a friend from business school. He called to tell me that our friend and team mate had passed away suddenly – in her mid-30’s.
I was shocked, to say the least. She was an amazing person, smart, funny and proof that only the good die young.
Suddenly, I realized that my negativity was bullshit. My friend would have given anything to be in that parking lot, heading into any sort of situation…just grateful to still be here.
It was yet another reminder that a huge source of unhappiness and bad decision-making comes from what I call being in a state of "down and in."
I was focusing on negative things, allowing my emotions to pull me down and inward into what I was feeling about that particular day’s work.
But my friend’s terrible news actually pulled me to the place where happiness, clarity and effective decision-making happen; which is the opposite of down and in: up and out.
In the up and out state, I reminded myself what was really important: Life. Living. Enjoying each moment. People. Relationships. Caring. Empowering others.
Oftentimes, we entrepreneurs can get stuck down and in, when really, our best work and most confident forward steps will come from being up and out.
This shows up when you’re focusing too hard on a problem (down and in), wallowing in self-pity (down and in), and feeling like you might never reach your dreams or sell your products or make this all work (down and in).
You will make terrible decisions in this mental state, I promise you.
Instead, work every day to bring yourself up and out - by learning, growing, interacting, embracing positivity, and believing in yourself so hard that you fully accept your success, even if you’re actually nowhere near it yet.
As in life, entrepreneurship isn’t about the destination. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that the destination was inevitable as soon as they reached the right mental state.
So the next time you’re feeling down and in, remember my friend.
Then bring yourself up, out, and fully into the world so you can share your talents and help make this spinning rock a better place to be.