Do you agree that as a general rule entrepreneurs must be a little "irrational" in believing in themselves in order to be successful?
In his Inc.com article, Jeff Haden points out there’s one essential trait every successful entrepreneur possesses: Irrational Optimism.
Overly enthusiastic, perhaps - irrational, no.
Irrational attracts the same - employees, investors, etc.
Good question, I was thinking about this very thing the other day. It seems in order for an entrepreneur to be successful they must not care about others. I know this sounds against the often cited "team collaboration, work hard play hard mentality" but think about it. For example, facebook, zuckerberg did whatever he wanted at the cost of others in order to make it mainstream. He didn't care. He gives away money now to non-profits but that is after the fact. Yes, I believe one would have to be a self serving ego maniac to stay extremely focused on getting where they want to go. :)
No! I dont agree. Be conservative, and have a ton of cushion in the bank. Plan, adapt and work. But be realistic that business fail all the time, and do everything you need to do to manage the risk.
Yes, most definitely. Especially if you're an entrepreneur who is a salesman at the same time. Copius amounts of optimism, confidence in oneself and the belief that sometimes the impossible can be achieved is greatly important.
This question assumes a finite definition of 'irrational' in the context of the question. perhaps that provided in the writer's referenced article, but the question alone is 'irrational.'
yes, they are all nuts, the only way to compensate is to surround yourself with sane people and business advisors
Absolutely. Entrepreneurs are "box cutters" as I like to say. Our society is full of people that are taught to go to school, get good grades, so you can get a job and work the 40x40x40 plan. While I agree education, personal development, and other things come into play, its about being consistent, persistent, helping others, and following through on your dreams. We are seen as irrational because we are 2% ers. I am irrational and crazy, but I wouldnt change who I am today or where I am going for anyone.
No, calculated risk to try to achieve a better solution is a very sane and very rational self-preservation mechanism. I don't believe Jeff Haden has a good handle on the skills possessed by entrepreneurs. Being irrational is counter-productive and blocks your ability to make careful and calculated risks. Being successful is hard work, and if you're successful it's often not because you believe in yourself, but because you believe in an ideal and want to see it realised. You may surround yourself in people in whom you believe, but ultimately you're driven by a vision for something better than what you have. That's entirely rational. What's irrational is people consuming their available living time doing pointless things and claiming to be successful. Curious question.
“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people. G.B. Shaw
Absolutely! Entrepreneurs often have creative out of the box ideas and will appear irrational to others as a result. They need to ensure they have people in their support environment such as a business coach (me for instance!) who will believe in the potential without judgement and that can also gently bring the idea down to earth with feasibility checks etc before embarkling on launching it.
Agreed, if you're not overly optimistic about your own project, nobody else will be! But don't lose touch with reality though...
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw
As an entrepreneur, I find it irrational to be rational about what is possible. I think you are either a rational person or a possibility person. I believe in what's possible, because it has no limits, or boundaries - just like my imagination.
Irrational? No! Confident? Committed? Absolutely!
An Entrepreneur must acknowledge the possibility of failure but believe it won't happen to them. Once an Entrepreneur believes they might fail, they already have. That's not irrational. It's a success driven mind set.
Success requires confidence and commitment. Why commit if you are not confident and how can you be confident if you are not committed? There is nothing irrational about expecting success if you are confident and committed. It doesn't guarantee success but it does minimize the potential for failure.
I agree with Amara that my question has sparked some interesting discussion and debate. I enjoy stirring the pot and drawing out differing viewpoints. Thanks to all who have responded and contributed so far--keep the comments and opinions coming.
Update: Thanks, all, for the insightful discussion. A lot of good points were made.
No. Entrepreneurs need to have a cold blooded rational understanding of the risks, and then proceed despite the risks. Irrational belief in oneself without understanding is folly.
ALL Entrepreneurs believe in the impossible! All of us!
That's half the fun!
Some us don't dream big enough though!
Hi Rob ~
Interesting dialogue around terminology. While I agree with Floyd and Rich that rationality can propel an entrepreneur towards success, a sense of wonder and an inventive mind make the difference between just 'having a business' and building something stupendous. Two of my favorite quotes that speak to this essential left/right brain fusion are:
1) "You were once wild here. Don't let them tame you." ~ Isadora Duncan
2) "The rest of creation is waiting, breathless, for you to take your place." ~ David Whyte
I believe that is part of the definition of being an entrepreneur.
NO. If fact entrepreneurs must possess a higher degree of rationality than most other people. If they don't they will end up going bankrupt. Level-headedness keeps business owners from going over a cliff or keeping their heads in the clouds (wishful thinking).
If they are not thinking and show a steady hand by employing sound business tools and practices, such as for budgeting, planning, and strategy, they will be just another statistic among business failures.
I think, a lot of time those who write on a topic like this get irrationality, optimism, and a conservative approach to doing business confused. It is not irrational to be aggressive in pursuit in the market. However, aggressiveness must be tempered by reality planning. If it isn't business owners will hit the fizzle factor and either consume all their resouces prior to reaching the market successfully or allocate those resources ineffectively. This approach takes every bit of rationality available.
Apart from this, define "irrationality." I am using it in its normal usage.
For those of you interested in a more in depth answer, I have a new book due for release December 15, 2012 that discusses the issues I address here called "Customer-Driven Budgeting: Prepare, Engage, Execute, A Small Business Guide, by Business Expert Press, New York.