What is a Key Attribute for Innovative Entrepreneurial Success?

by Janet Sernack

What is a key attribute for innovative entrepreneurial success?I am not sure how many of my valuable ImagineNation™ and Innovation Excellence community friends and colleagues have ever purchased a completely new, “make believe” apartment “off the plan”. Nor am I aware of any who have attempted such a huge and monumental challenge in a different and strange country, during a war, in an indecipherable language and an argumentative culture, and survived and lived to tell the story! Needless to say, our recent move to our “almost finished”, still badly built, potentially beautiful new apartment has brought me back, yet again to the importance and incredible value of one of the core generic principle for succeeding in accomplishing almost anything!

I can happily play with how I have learnt (and failed) to apply this core attribute, not only towards trying to get our new apartment completed, to a reasonable standard of quality, but also to the challenges most people face in becoming successful innovative leaders and start-up entrepreneurs. This is “The Key to Entrepreneurial Success” because, strangely enough, if you know how to embody and enact this core attribute, on a daily basis, you can, and will, accomplish anything that requires courageous and creative endeavors! Even trying to work successfully with an undisciplined Israeli builder, his incompetent manager and range of diversely skilled and knowledgeable Arab supervisors!

The key to success is to develop strong self efficacy!

Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy “as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations”. Our sense of self-efficacy plays a major role in how we approach setting and achieving goals, completing tasks, and with how we persist in mastering challenges. It affects every field of human endeavors, and is determined by the beliefs we hold regarding our power to affect situations, it influences the personal power we are able to develop and the choices we make when facing a challenge.

Understanding self efficacy

When I presented at the European Innovation Conference in Brussels last year on “Disrupting the Entrepreneurship Learning Paradigm” almost every academic, presented a paper on the critical role good self efficacy plays towards enabling entrepreneurial success. Of course, as all good academics do, they established relevant “why” and “what” frames, they just mostly left out the “how to”. Of course, as a coach to innovative leaders and entrepreneurs, most of really important foundational groundwork is towards enabling my participants to cultivate the foundational strong self efficacy required to persist and sustain them through the peaks and troughs of the disruptive “Start-Up Cycle.”

To ultimately succeed in innovation and entrepreneurship game by developing strong self efficacy!

The benefits of a strong sense of self-efficacy is when people:

  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered
  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments.

Strategies for cultivating self efficacy when facing entrepreneurial challenges:
Here are seven simple and specific strategies for cultivating your self efficacy to go and play where others don’t dare to!

1. Self efficacy requires resourceful states of be-ing

Make time to retreat and reflect, to go back to a time when you really succeeded at something significant, visualize yourself in that powerful emotional and physical state, tune into how it felt, and tell yourself “I can do this!”and/or “I just haven’t done it yet!”

2. Self efficacy requires an inner belief in self

Make time to retreat and reflect, in silence and perhaps in a meditative or mindful state, take a moment to tune into your inner knowing or wisdom, and ask “How can I approach doing this?” and/or “How can I get this tedious job done effectively?”

3. Self efficacy requires us to maximize our inner resources

Make time to retreat and reflect, in silence and in nature, if possible, and just notice the internal conversation you habitually have with yourself about what you “must” and “must not do”. Notice the range and power of each of the voices, and identify who is in charge. If by chance, it is a doubtful or critical voice, turn the volume down, to allow a more resourceful voice to be heard, the one who tells you how good you are, and encourages you to be powerful and successful.

4. Self efficacy requires us to maximize our outer resources

Notice your habitual use of language, when discussing a challenging task or problem, do you tend to self depreciate, focus on the limitations, constraints and negatives?

Here are some tips for shifting you limiting language when you are in challenging situations;

  • “I could never do that!” and ask instead “What if I could do that?”
  • “I always fail at solving problems!” to “I only failed just this time!”
  • “I have no more energy left for this!” to “I am worn out right now, and need some time out to recharge!”

5. Self efficacy requires us to maximize our strengths

Focus on what you have achieved up until now, no matter how small they may seem to be, the point is that you did complete the race, solve the problem, build a new team or business whilst many others may not have even tried! Focus on cultivating and applying your inherent strengths, on what you do well, and not on what your weakest points.

6. Self efficacy requires us to stay focused on the goal or outcome

Always keep the end in mind, focus on what it is you are trying to achieve and why it is important, and how it will benefit you, your team or the world, if you persist with it!

7. Self efficacy requires us to learn from our mistakes

The last and most important strategy is to “fail fast to learn quickly”, and whilst it is really hard for some of us, surrender into your failures, reframing them as “learning opportunities.” Tell yourself, that it “just didn’t work that time”.

Taking it further, make “brilliant blunders” to create infection points, paradigm shifts and mindset flips, that would not have arisen, if you had not failed and used the opportunity to pivot to success.

Our apartment is almost completed, however, the real challenges have just begun, and we have a number of key strategies in place, to stay in the “buying off the plan game.”

It’s essentially no different to creating and sustaining an innovative and entrepreneurial start-up! It’s all about managing our reactive responses and sustaining our self efficacy during the disruptive peaks and troughs of the start-up cycle!


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  • How the Lean Start-up Accelerates Innovation Janet Sernack gained her consulting, education, facilitation, training and executive coaching skills, from 30 years experience in manufacturing, retailing and learning and development businesses to Australia’s and Israel’s’ top 100 companies. She resides in Israel where she founded a start-up, ImagineNation™ that teaches innovative leadership and start-up entrepreneurship via The Start-Up Game™.

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