Both genetic predisposition and the experiences that have gone into shaping a person’s character play important roles in determining how quickly you may adopt the traits of a successful entrepreneur. But what exact qualities does it take?
In order to find answers, we spoke with two renowned experts. Alan Manevitz M.D. an attending psychiatrist at New York Presbyterian and Lenox Hill Hospitals. Dr. Manevitz is nationally and internationally recognized for his work with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, he was brought in as a consultant after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Our other guest is Bernard Pachter, the father of JumpbyDesign host, David Pachter. Mr. Pachter is a serial entrepreneur with over 40 years’ experience in the retail and apparel industries.
Is There an “Entrepreneur Personality”?
According to Dr. Manevitz, the short answer is “not really.”
Human beings are individuals for a reason; each one of us has a complex of characteristics that are useful in different circumstances. A person who is unable to focus on the many chores that make up their daily life may rise to brilliance when they only have one thing — a catastrophe — to manage.
The key to becoming successful is, Manevitz argues, to “look at the spectrum of your own personality traits, habits, tendencies” and to be self-aware. He cites a well-known businessman as saying, “Give me a level playing field, and I can win because I know my limitations.”
Self-knowledge can lead people to temper their worst qualities. For instance, David Pachter recalled going to a business meeting at his father’s office and glancing inside his father’s briefcase, where there was nothing but a large red button saying, “Don’t panic.” Bernard Pachter knew that, for him, panic equals temper, and if he were to give in to anxiety, he could destroy an important business deal.
And though it’s certainly helpful to have people who provide positive direction in one’s childhood, lacking opportunities to grow in the formative years can make an individual hungry for good role models as a young adult, and that can be a driving force generating one’s own opportunities for success.
The Importance of Grit and Resilience
Most would-be entrepreneurs start out with remarkably high levels of self-confidence and courage. This was certainly true of Bernard Pachter, who borrowed money from friends and family to open his first business on Brooklyn’s Flatbush Ave., a woman’s clothing store. He had absolutely no experience in the industry. What he did have was a complete confidence in his ability to make things work.
Confidence is great, but alone it’s not enough to achieve success.
You also need two important and consistent qualities. One of them is grit, which Dr. Manevitz defines as “the perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” The other, resilience, not only allows individuals to spring back quickly from adversity but also gives them the ability to cope with delayed gratification.
These two characteristics are essential personality constructs that house and give direction to other useful character traits like imagination, ambition, intellectual curiosity, and conscientiousness.
Manevitz shared the story of watching his father getting ready to go over to a rental building he owned in the middle of the night, during a New York blizzard. His father’s conscience told him he needed to check to make sure he had remembered to light the burner, but it was grit that allowed him to translate that value into action.
It was resilience that allowed Bernard Pachter “pick himself up immediately” — rather than losing confidence — after a significant business failure that caused him to declare personal bankruptcy during the 1973 recession. David Pachter added that grit, reliance, and confidence can also be an entrepreneur’s “fool’s gold”. And while success also requires some luck that even with mastery in your field and resources, that the entrepreneur needs resilience to survive setbacks and failure.
The Work-Life Balance Factor
Grit and resilience draw on constant energy reserves, which can lead to burn out. Thus, it is important to find ways to carve out space to refuel. Reminiscing about the old days, when single income families facilitated work-life balance, Pachter spoke with relish about the weekends he spent relaxing with his son in Central Park. He even passed up the opportunity to do business with Sam Walton because the date coincided with Pachter’s visit to his son’s summer camp.
The world we live in today, however, makes it much harder to disconnect. Dr. Manevitz argues that being able to form appropriate boundaries between downtime and work come from an individual’s resilience. That is, successful entrepreneurs learn to compartmentalize so that they can bounce back from stress and work at peak performance levels more consistently than others.
Reflecting on the show, David Pachter added: “It’s important to consider that perpetual aspiration is not a recipe for contentment and happiness”.
Aspiring to Grow Your Business Faster?
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