EmpowHER Your Mindset: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Negative Thoughts To Stay Motivated
In March, EO recognizes and celebrates women entrepreneurs with its second annual EmpowHER virtual conference, which focuses on the specific challenges women in business experience. Women entrepreneurs will learn from experts how to navigate the three pillars of every woman entrepreneurs’ life: business, family and self.
Miranda Naiman, a 7-year EO Tanzania member and an unstoppable force for good, is the founder of Empower, a disruptive consulting firm that passionately provides talent, advisory and insight services to clients across the African continent. Miranda is Board Director of CRDB Bank Plc and Board Chair of the African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative that empowers hundreds of women from across the continent. She is Board Vice Chair of CCBRT Hospital and an active member-leader of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization where she serves as Chair of Global Learning. We asked Miranda to share the importance of mindset for women entrepreneurs:
Antifragility has become the beacon of entrepreneurship in recent times. As business owners, we are not only expected to bounce back from adversity but have now increased our capacity to thrive as a result of stressors, shocks, volatility, rejection, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures.
A quiet moment of instimacy with any entrepreneur will confirm the obvious: It’s extraordinarily hard work. That, juxtaposed with the adrenaline rush we get from closing deals, nurturing teams, building brands and scaling to new markets. Thank God for EO Forum, where we get to share our 5% life highs and lows with fellow entrepreneurs in a confidential environment of zero judgement and no advice. Experience-shares enlighten and shine guiding light in the recesses of our minds when we may feel trapped and alone.
Overcoming negative thoughts is part of what makes us human; we are imperfect, after all. Controlling—and eventually eradicating them altogether—is a crucial piece of work we need to do; in my humble opinion, it is the highest form of self-care to have a healthy, balanced mindset.
Here are seven common—and unhealthy—questions we may ask ourselves on those dark days, and in the spirit of experience-sharing, my way of dealing with them to mark seven years as an EO member:
1. Do I deserve to be here?
The short and simple answer is: Of course you do! However, it’s important to recognise that Imposter Syndrome is a legitimate mental state where an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent, internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. I stay focused on my why and remind myself that I am qualified, valuable, and contributing positively. My core values of Stay in the Light, Feed the Family, and Service Before Self are my true North. Everything else falls into place from there.
2. How did she get there?
Comparison can inevitably lead to jealousy. When you waste energy looking left and right instead of staying focused on the path in front of you, you will lose ground. I learnt early on in my entrepreneurial journey to “run my own race” and never succumb to comparison. We are all uniquely brilliant irrespective of what the next person is doing. I relish celebrating others’ wins—it gives me joy and motivates me to keep forging forward.
3. Is there something wrong with me?
Self-deprecation only works if you are a stand-up comedian entertaining a crowd. All other attempts to attack, unpick or unravel yourself merely cause self-harm. STOP crippling yourself; catch yourself when it happens and reverse the narrative: I accept myself wholly and unconditionally.
4. It’s lonely at the top
A cliche realisation but an honest one. The more hats you don, the more thinly spread you become, thus making it harder to connect and forge deep connections with people. Where awareness goes, energy flows; it is your choice where to invest your time, energy and attention—growth will mean fewer, deep relationships and limitless acquaintances. Know the difference and cultivate deep connections that matter to alleviate loneliness.
5. I can’t juggle all the balls
Societal pressure—on women in particular—can be unforgiving. Being an entrepreneur juxtaposed with being a wife, mother, sister, daughter, auntie (my fave!), board director to multiple organisations, coach, mentor and volunteer can weigh us down. All these glass balls are important, yet we shouldn’t be afraid to intentionally put one of the balls down (even temporarily) for our own sanity. Juggling should be enjoyable and mutually beneficial; if not, you might be holding a lead ball.
6. I’m a terrible Mum
I won’t be the first or last woman to say that mum-guilt is real! Those of us raising children while scaling businesses will face numerous situations where we are wracked with guilt. Work-travel; getting home late; missing school appointments, you name it—these things will happen. Quality over quantity is how I navigate Motherhood. Love deeply, be truly present in your child’s company, and communicate intentionally.
7. I’m in the way
Founder’s block will begin to lurk after a number of years—what got you here won’t necessarily take you there. Having founded Empower 14 years ago and working passionately with my partners and team to diversify and scale the business to market-leader, it will soon be time for me to step aside. Recognising the need to allow “fresh blood” to lead the business to higher heights presents a unique opportunity to reinvent yourself. Watch this space.
Don’t miss the third installment of EO’s 2023 EmpowHER virtual series on 21 March. EmpowHER invites women entrepreneurs to hear inspiring stories from fellow founders—including Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and former head of marketing at Facebook; Aanchal Bhatia, founder of Sydenham Clinic; Hannah Vasicek, founder of Francesca; and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former prime minister of Denmark—during a series of virtual events that are free and open to EO members, EO Accelerators, their companies, and prospective EO members. Register today!
On 21 March, former Prime Minister of Denmark, HE Helle Thorning Schmidt, will share her unique perspective on how women face certain professional barriers others don’t. She will speak to the imperative need to learn to recognize biases in ourselves so that we can overcome them and become truly inclusive leaders. This seminar is free and open to anyone, upon registration. Sign up here to EmpowHER today.
For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog.