Strive, struggle & shine

The life cycle of entrepreneurship

strive-struggle-shine-207x138Ever wondered why realizing your dream or achieving a goal you really care about is so hard? I studied the cycles I went through and identified the following steps: strive, struggle & shine.

Strive is when you really, really want something. For yourself maybe, a business goal, or something for the greater good. Your goal needs to be challenging, but not impossible. If you don’t know what you want, if you don’t want it bad enough, or if it is not your own goal (but others have set it for you or it is something you think you should want), you won’t have what it takes to get through the struggle. However, if you are really passionate about it, can visualize what it would look/taste/feel like if you reach it, then you stand a good chance. Many people know what they want, but have trouble stepping out of their comfort zone. Going from strive to struggle is doing exactly that. You know what you have (even if you don’t like it any more), but you don’t know what’s waiting for you on the other side of the line. Therefore you’ll probably make excuses that this is not the right time, there are other priorities, or you need more time, money, experience or other resources. Don’t fall for it! The external circumstances will never be perfect. Take what you have and make the best of it. Take the plunge!

Struggle Nobody said it would be easy. There will be ups and downs, dead end roads, pitfalls, sidetracks, roadblocks and delays. You’ll feel discouraged, depressed, lonely, angry, sad, crazy, despair. But if you hold on to that vision, find creative solutions for each challenge you face and don’t give up, you might eventually get to a point where others who had the same goal have given up. In business this means you’ll have a competitive advantage. Personally this means you are evolving faster, becoming a wiser person. This should motivate you to take the last hurdles.

Shine Finally you’re there! Don’t be afraid to show what you’ve achieved and be proud of it. Share the lessons you’ve learned. Enjoy your success, but don’t let it get to your head. Before you know it, circumstances change, competitors catch up and you’re in the strive phase again. Or you’ll think of a new goal. Success does not go unnoticed by darkness: you’ll experience jealousy, maybe even attacks. If you let yourself be pushed from your ‘pedestal’ you’ll find yourself in the struggle once again.

The first time I went through this cycle, I thought ‘So this is it. Seen it, been there, done it.’ I thought I would live in peace forever more… Little did I realize that the cycle continues again and again. Now, looking back on many cycles, it helps me understand the phases I am going through. Both professionally and personally. Each phase requires different skills, a different mind set.

strive struggle shine engels

Try picturing a company logo or a brand; let’s apply ‘strive, struggle & shine’ to Apple. They started out in a garage, developed something completely new. Had to struggle to become visible. Then grew fast. Went from computers into music and even phones. Steve Jobs left and came back and then left for good… How many cycles did they go through?

Or imagine Richard Branson going though his career. A student magazine, music shops, an airline, all based on unconventional ideas. He also kept reinventing himself and his brand.

What phase are you in? And what would help you to get to the next phase?