Jonathan Vowles Chartered Accountants

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The Hallmark Of A Great Entrepreneur Is Positive Responsibility

And the seven challenges that make success hard ...


Research by the University of Pennsylvania has found that success in life (as well as in business) is driven by a critical mindset, which I call positive responsibility ...

Positive responsibility is the hallmark of a great entrepreneur!

Positive responsibility is the hallmark of a great entrepreneur!

copyright: bowie15 / 123rf stock photo

This critical mindset of 'positive responsibility' is defined by the researchers as, "whether you believe that your failures are produced by personal deficits beyond your control, or that they are mistakes you can fix with effort".

"Someone with positive responsibility believes that success or failure is within your control!"

They believe you can fix things if you try hard enough. It's a positive outlook, even an optimistic one; it's a belief that failure is a learning experience and that they can do better in the future.

The research found that success isn't the only thing affected by your mindset. It found that people with the opposite mindset - that your failures and your personal deficits are beyond your control - tend to have higher rates of depression.

Maintaining the positive responsibility mindset isn't always easy. There are things that will make it harder to maintain. Challenges that could drag even the most optimistic of entrepreneur down, and that everyone needs to learn to avoid or rise above.

These challenges generally come from others, but at the end of the day everyone has to man-up (or woman-up) and take responsibility for themselves. So what are the challenges that get in the way of being successful? What things do you need to work to correct in yourself so that you can be more successful?

The seven challenges that make success hard are:

  1. Fear and danger are real

    There are dangers out there in business, and it is ok to be afraid of those dangers. Fear is a useful thing as it will keep you away from hazardous things.

    But actually fear represents a choice. Just think of the adrenaline you get when you choose to do something dangerous and then the euphoric feeling you get from conquering your fears. There are examples of this in every charity parachute jump, abseil or fire walk ... and that is why such activities are often part of personal development courses.

    Successful entrepreneurs don't hold back just because they feel scared. They use the adrenaline of feeling afraid to help push themselves to achieve ... and then bask in that euphoric feeling.

  2. Friends and partners are important

    'Creative multiplication' is where the power of two people being creative is much more than just adding two streams of thought. It is the multiplication of energy and creativity that flows from working with others. You can see it in loads of situations where associating with great people has helped you to reach your full potential.

    There are many obvious creative partnerships in recent history. Bill Gates and Paul Allen who founded Microsoft, or Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, for example. However, creative multiplication has a flip side - toxic people. Just as a creative partnership will build you up so associating with toxic people will drag you down.

  3. Age really is just a number

    There are examples all over the place to remind us of this. But lots of people will still feel compelled to tell you what you can and can't do because of your age.

    Successful people don't allow people to limit them in this way. Instead, they use their passion to drive themselves forward.

  4. Negativity is all around us

    Actually, life won't always be sweet and go the way you want it. A successful entrepreneur is usually someone who radiates positivity and energy for a reason!

    Successful people don't complain about how things could have been or should have been. Instead, they focus on the positive, on the things they have to be grateful for ... and then they look for the best solution to move forward. They also tend to avoid the naysayers and negative radiators. I'm sure you know someone who is a negativity radiator, people who suck all the energy out of a room when they walk into it.

    But if you spend time with such negative people then it will suck your energy and your passion. The answer is simple, most successful entrepreneurs avoid negative people like the plague.

  5. Other people's opinions can be both positive and negative

    If you are the sort of person who compares yourself to others accomplishments and opinions, and gets a sense of pleasure and satisfaction from doing so, then actually you are no longer master of your own destiny. You are a slave to other people's opinions.

    Successful entrepreneurs do care about others, after all, it would be inhuman not to. It's not that they don't care about what other people think, but they don't let anyone's opinions affect whether they feel good about something that they have achieved.

    No matter what other people think, your self-worth comes from within, whether it's the satisfaction of a job well done or from reaching a particular milestone.

  6. Be present

    The past is the past and you can't change it. The future hasn't been written yet, but it will be defined by what you do in the present. Successful entrepreneurs embrace the reality of now, regardless of whether it is good or bad, and focus on the present.

    You can't forget your past, but you can make peace with it and accept it. You can't change it, so don't worry about it. Equally the future is uncertain, so accept that it is uncertain and don't give yourself unnecessarily high expectations. Of course, you need to plan for the future, but you also need to live in the present.

  7. Your worldview is also important

    If you were to read an average week's media headlines, then it will be filled with violence, disaster and economic woes. Partly, that is because the media likes a bad story more than a good story, but actually, the world has been around a long time, and most people don't die on the streets or get made redundant.

    Actually, there is just as much good in the world, it just doesn't make it into the headlines! Successful entrepreneurs look at the world around them and don't get involved in things they can't control. Part of success is to focus energy on those things they can do something about. To control what you can control, to improve your world, your house, your business, your family situation.

    Successful entrepreneurs also know that by taking small steps to improve their own situation they are making that small bit of difference that helps the world to be a better place.

All of which comes together to become the 'positive responsibility' mindset.

Importantly, this mindset is something that with training and focus you can develop to help you reach your full potential.

"Would you like to know more?"

If you want help being more positive and having a winning mindset then do get in touch with me on 01234 752 566 or click here to ping me an email and let's see how I can help you.

Until next time ...


More about Jonathan Vowles ...

I've been an accountant in and for business since 1987 and have a wide experience of consultancy, audit, accounts, taxation and wealth planning work from individuals and small businesses to multinational corporations and charities.

My eclectic interests in growing and developing business span a number of areas, which can be summarised as strategic business advice and tax saving advice.

I have worked with the Chamber of Commerce to deliver courses for people about starting up in business and have lectured about tax for a major accountancy practice and for Milton Keynes College.

I relax by reading fiction and by getting away from the office in a campervan.


01234 752 566