“The Ego, however, is not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants control, and it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear.” ― Deepak Chopra
Sadly, for many of us, fear is part of entrepreneurship. The fear of failure. The fear of ridicule. The fear of being reposted on the pissed off barber’s page. The fear of having to go back to the job or career we left just to make ends meet. But none of it is real. It’s not real fear in the sense of being physically under attack. It’s the fear of the future. It’s the fear of not being what everyone thinks we were in the past. If we really dissect where this fear comes from we will find that it actually comes from ego. Not necessarily in the sense of being an egomaniac, but in the sense that we want approval and validation for our work. Hell, Instagram is built on ego. It’s the reason people photoshop their work even when they are phenomenal artists and booked for weeks. It’s not for the clients. We do it all for our colleagues. Our ego is the reason we start shit with people over who did a technique first, or who had a logo first, or who’s education platform or product came out first. Our ego is afraid that people will forget us.
I wanted to get these thoughts out because I know what it is like trying to start or run a business. I know what it is like to see people with 100K followers and all you want to do is hit 10K so you can get the swipe up feature. I know what it is to fear and I know what it is to want to prove people wrong. But the only way to truly enjoy the ride as an entrepreneur is to stomp out ego. It’s not easy. But it is the surest way to joy.
One of my favorite quotes is: “It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” (Not sure the 1st to say that but luckily he doesn’t care about the credit). I’d be lying if I said I always live up to it. My ego wants its credit too. But being aware of that is a huge advantage. It allows me to step outside myself and look at what I want to accomplish. My mission at Dillinger’s is to: Do great hair, change the world, and teach others to do both. In order to be successful, both ego and fear have to be extinguished. I cannot teach others to be greater than me if I am worried about losing my “spot”. I cannot hire skilled barbers and stylists if I want to remain the best in the shop. (I was once the best because I was the only :)). I cannot change the world in the way I want if I care about having all the trappings that impress others. If I am afraid of what people will think, I cannot achieve these goals and therefore cannot experience joy.
The way I try to do this is to avoid benchmarking. I don’t look at my colleagues and say, “I have to do what they are doing.” I don’t “go big or go home.” Instead I encourage you to go small. Small incremental upgrades to my systems, processes, and self everyday is how I minimize fear. First, this allows for small wins. I am able to celebrate small victories often. Helping a homeless man get a job with a haircut is a (huge) small win. But if I compare myself to @markbustos or @haircuts4homeless I will feel like I failed because they are operating on a larger scale. And that would be on me, not them. They are amazing. Second, it allows you to see progress sooner. When you save everything up to go big, the goal seems so far. By digesting small pieces of your goal, you will see progress as it happens in real time. And third, making small improvements allows you to adjust when something is not working. By operating this way you can avoid being married to a particular process or approach. You can get feedback and adjust accordingly.
This is not a one day fix. Hopefully it is a spark to get us all to care a little less about who is doing what, and focus on enjoying our craft and our lives a little more.