To be a successful entrepreneur, it is said that one must be a self-starter, disciplined, creative, consistent, and persevering. There are other traits but my favorite is one not spoken about too often. And as far as I’m concerned, it is absolutely necessary if you want to cross the finish line.
Without this trait, your ability to create unique solutions to problems will be significantly diminished.
Without this trait, your growth as a business will be stunted.
Without this trait, your competitors will blow by you and leave you in the dust.
What is it?
The power in the eye
An artist does not typically sit down before a nude model and immediately start sketching. She takes time to study the model, the light, how the shadows fall on the model’s body, the background and surrounding environment. Everything is taken into consideration and mentally analyzed before committing charcoal to paper.
There is a mental snapshot that was taken during this process. It is the intent of the artist to capture on paper this mental snapshot as accurately as possible.
When an athlete trains to win a race, they envision in their mind a picture of them winning the race. With their “mind’s eye,” they see every aspect of the race, all the way to them crossing the finish line ahead of everyone else.
Leaders are called “visionaries” because they can see the final outcome of a lot of hard work. They are able to communicate this vision to everyone else and motivate people to get the job done.
But this visionary trait isn’t quite what I’m talking about. There’s a more basic trait that all great entrepreneurs have and the good news is that you can train yourself to have it.
Latin for: “I always look.”
It is amazing to me how seldom people pay attention to their surroundings. If they did, they would notice things that could enrich their lives. They also could avoid some dangerous situations.
Recently, a video made its rounds on social media that ironically, talked about the pitfalls of social media. The spoken word poem made an excellent point about how many people are missing out on life because they’re hooked into their computers and mobile devices.
I am deeply concerned for the younger generations because they are living life in the shallow end of the pool. Instead of spending quality time with a friend, they spend time with a computer screen and think it’s “quality.”
But nothing can compare to true intimacy that is built by spending time one-on-one with a person. Nothing can compare to being in the moment and drinking in every delicious drop instead of taking a tiny sip and then uploading it to Facebook.
The trait every successful entrepreneur has is a keen sense of observation. They pay attention to everything around them. Their head is not buried in their smartphone or mobile device. They know the power of unplugging, taking a walk outside, visiting a museum or bookstore, hanging out at a café and chatting up the regulars.
They notice things. They ask questions and then remember what they noticed again. And in the midst of their observations and questions, they fill a gap in the marketplace.
The Latin word for “observe” is servo: To watch over, keep, protect, observe, save, reserve.
To cultivate this trait will take time, especially if you’re used to plowing through your day at warp speed. It’s one thing to be productive, but another to be strategic. The trait of being observant will help you become more strategic with your work.
This week, remember to take frequent breaks from whatever it is you’re doing. Walk away from your keyboard and look out the window. Notice what’s going on in the world. Take a walk and breathe in the fresh air.
Visit your local library and read magazines that don’t have anything to do with your business. Browse different topics. Look at the current news items for the day. In time, all these separate pieces will start to fit together in your brain like pieces of a puzzle.
You’ll start to connect ideas to one another that you never did before. When you do, you’ll hopefully experience that “flash of brilliance” that is the seed of all great inventions.
But it won’t happen if you keep staring at a screen.
Explore. Observe. And then… create.