At Dublin Beta last week I was happy to see one of the students I’d coached in Student Startup last September come third with his coffee delivery app called espressio. I loved his idea as so often I wake up on a Saturday morning dying for a coffee to be delivered to my door so I can have a lazy Saturday morning in bed! However his idea was not what earned my praise. The effort and commitment to his idea since last September was what I was most impressed with. And this is what I told him and the other participants I spoke to on the night like GECKO, Huddle, and WoofAdvisor and Preamp.
In his book The Winner Effect, Professor Ian Robertson, Chair of Psychology in Trinity College, speaks about ‘The Grit Effect’. According to him ‘grit is one of the most important ingredients of life’.
It is through grit that we win the battles that we will undoubtedly face in our life. This includes the startup competitions like Dublin Beta and presentations we make to promote our ideas or win entry into Accelerators or Incubators or to gain investment.
But how can you get through these without damaging your ego?
If we’re really honest, often the bolstering of our ego is the biggest prize of all. We feel smarter when really achieving these things makes no difference to how smart we are. Achievement of success proves that we have persisted through the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that often stand in our way of setting up a business.
According to Professor Ian Robinson, giving praise that supports an entity view of intelligence (that you have achieved success because you are smart as opposed to the effort you’ve put in to achieve your endeavour), is the wrong kind of praise as it conditions us to react with fear to an endeavour that doesn’t make us feel like we’re smart. The reason we’re afraid is that if our endeavour fails, than surely that means we’ve failed as a person; we’re not really that smart after all.
Then what will people think of us?
And it is this threat to our ego that can hold us back from persisting with an endeavour like setting up a business.
So what’s the best way to give praise?
The praise that we give ourselves and others should be based on our efforts, the grit we show, not on how much smarter or better we are as individuals by the success we achieve throughout our startup journey. Events like Dublin Beta and the milestones they may present to early startups should be celebrated for the effort that goes into getting there; irrespective of if we win at that stage. That is what I focus on when giving praise to participants at an event like Dublin Beta.
Remember this: Beware of setting goals that are ego based as not achieving these kind of goals is detrimental to your self esteem. The wrong kind of goals and motivation is what causes our fear of failure – remove the threat to your self and you remove the fear of failure. And this is what will help you keep going towards achieving startup success.