Ask the questions you should be asking

I just read the following quote in a post by Jon Parrish a now successful entrepreneur about pitfalls that founders fall into:

Entrepreneurs (myself included) have this incredible ability to ignore reality when it isn’t in line with our goals. We feel threatened by the idea that the answers to the questions we should be asking may prevent us from moving forward, so we don’t ask them. Or worse, we ask the questions but don’t listen to the answers. It’s self-deception in the worst way, and it’s an entrepreneur’s Achilles’ heel. It feels better to move forward blindly than to search out whatever hurdles may be in the way.

But closing your eyes doesn’t make monsters go away. The answers exist, whether you want to face them or not.

We see this all the time, and what’s interesting is that it’s the flip-side of a very positive entrepreneur character trait – belief in a positive outcome.

On Tuesday I had lunch with a friend who had just been to Tony Robbins’ Unleash the power within four day seminar. He described how Tony inspires people by getting them to visualise success. When the mind believes that something will happen we act accordingly and that gives us a much better chance of getting there. We’ve all seen the reverse too – when someone doesn’t really believe that success is possible so they tackle a problem half-heartedly thereby making failure a near certainty.

A lot of entrepreneurs naturally find energy from an unwavering belief that they will succeed (I wrote about this previously as one of the four cognitive biases of successful people). The reason that some of them feel threatened by asking questions is a fear that the answers might undermine that belief.

It’s a tricky one, because the questions need to be asked and the self-belief needs to be maintained. If you are struggling with this, then the answer, I think, is to root the belief in yourself and your ability to overcome challenges, not in any given strategy or view of the world. Otherwise your self-confidence will always be fragile.