In both my capacity as an entrepreneur, and a writer, I have found that there are two clear worlds that I operate in.
There is the outer world:
- This is the world of results. What happens to me as a result of my actions, but also what happens to me that isn’t derived from what I do. This can be luck, and it can also be randomness. The outer world can be things that affect me and my business directly, or it can be things that may have an impact on me if I choose to interpret them in ways that change my behaviour.
The outer world is both inside and outside of my control. My actions lead to results – that is within my control. However I cannot control every result. There are many times when I do my very best, I do exactly everything that is in my power, and I still don’t get the result that I want. There are other times where good favour seems to shine and I get something unexpected, independent of my actions. There are also times where something negative happens that was not related to something that I did. It just happened.
Take for example the process of writing a book. There are elements to the outer world that are in my control – such as the actual “finishing” of the book and seeing the product in my hands. There are elements that are outside of my control – for example whether people like the book and choose to refer it to others (completely out of my control). Finally there are elements to this that are a hybrid – such as book sales. Sales are impacted by what I do, but there is also an element of good fortune that impacts this as well.
The outer world is where “external success” exists – the signs of success such as money, material goods, acclaim, recognition from others.
The outer world can also be the primary source of frustration, and discouragement, if it is only what we choose to focus on. When we fixate only on “results” and the results don’t come when we want them to, especially when we are taking the most action that we can it is very easy to get discouraged. I think every entrepreneur has felt this.
There is a passage from The Bhagavad Gita that has been particularly instrumental to me adopting a more “inward” focused mindset:
You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat….Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do.
I also operate in the inner world:
- This is the world of action and attitude. This world is entirely within my control. I can absolutely control what I do (the actions that I take each day), and I can also fully control my attitude. I can control what I focus on. I can control how to interpret the things that happen to me. I can also control what I believe.
The inner world is the world that I have chosen to focus on, because it is fully in my control. As a result it is a source of great personal power and renewal. Also, I have learned to derive my sense of self-worth entirely on what happens in the inner world, and completely divorce my self-esteem from the outer world. If I take action, as I know that I should, then I feel good about myself. If I choose to maintain a positive attitude and belief system, as I know that I am capable of, then I feel good about myself.
In my opinion this is the most empowering way to operate. If you derive your self-worth by factors that operate outside of your control (even in part) you are opening yourself up for disappointment. However, if you derive your self-worth entirely by factors that are within your control then you will be empowered your entire life.