Light and Shadow: Top 10 Success Secrets of a Moody Entrepreneur

by | May 14, 2012

I’m Molly, and I’m a moody entrepreneur.

I’ve been moody for as long as I can remember. Call it the creative temperament. Call it the result of being the oldest of eight children, all born within 12 years. Call it genetics.

But moody I am, and it makes self-employment interesting.

Fortunately, I’ve also always been fascinated with myself. (What can I say?) So I’ve learned a good deal about what produces moods and how to work with them.

As a result, I’ve developed some success secrets that enable me to thrive in spite of my mercurial personality.

Three questions

Because of that self-fascination, sooner or later my native curiosity arises, whatever mood I am. It asks:

  • What happened just before this mood appeared?
  • What was my thought process then?
  • Is how I feel now necessary in order to survive or thrive?

Invariably, one or more of those questions creates a shift. That shift puts some space between me and the mood. Instead of me being in the mood, the mood is in me.

And thanks to that shift, I’ve learned a number of ways to not only survive moodiness but to thrive. I call them my 10 success secrets, and here they are.

Ten success secrets

  1. Notice and acknowledge all your moods, good and bad. By their nature, moods live in the background, where they affect perception without your being fully aware of it. When you acknowledge a mood, you bring it into the foreground. You shift to having it rather than it having you.
  2. Pay attention to how you experience each positive and negative mood. How does it affect your posture and breathing? What’s the tone of your self-talk? What expectations does it produce? How do you interact with others? Compassionate self-observation helps you detach.
  3. Detach from ick; bask in delight. You are constantly memorizing your moods, whether you realize it or not. Make a conscious decision to memorize the good ones even more thoroughly by soaking up your experience of them as fully as you can.
  4. Closely observe how you think and behave in good moods. This will give you a library of thoughts and actions to call on in difficult times. You can’t think yourself into a good mood, but you can behave yourself into one.
  5. It’s easier to maintain positive energy than to generate it when you’re feeling down. Learn what supports your good moods and turn those things into habits.
  6. Small behaviors can generate big shifts. Thank people for asking before you answer a question. Call people by name, especially people like the grocery store clerk with whom you have frequent, casual interactions. These behaviors may feel clumsy at first, but with practice they establishes connection. That simple connection can amplify a good mood and sustain you in a bad one.
  7. Master a few key systems so that external events are less likely to throw you into a negative mood. For example, make a habit of saving documents you’re working on every few minutes. Back up your computer frequently. Put things like your keys in the same place every time.
  8. Cultivate resilience. Pay attention to the transitions between moods and memorize the fact that moods are temporary.
  9. Call on the Mona Lisa smile. You know that mysterious, barely there smile worn by the Mona Lisa? Imitate it. At the very least it will produce a moment or irony, which beats the heck out of being stuck in tragedy.
  10. Replace the story of ups and downs with the story of waves. The story of ups and downs sets up the expectation that you are powerless. That moods happen suddenly, and that you have little choice in the matter. The story of waves reminds you that moods are transient and that you can ride even the worst of them skillfully to shore.

A person like you can be a successful entrepreneur

You don’t need a personality transplant to be a successful entrepreneur. If you’re reading this the odds are excellent that you are already committed to self-awareness. Now the key is to bring that awareness to the practice of building a business.