How to manage the entrepreneur’s emotions during Covid-19

The COVID-19 outbreak clearly has serious implications regarding physicalhealth. It is an opportunity to show our courage, patience and adaptability. During this COVID outbreak, the confusion, panic and stress can hinder us to avoid reacting impulsively, both internally and in external actions. Neurologist suggest us to find methods to control it more.  

Entrepreneurship involves a roller coaster of emotions: uncertainty, fear, insecurity, anger, loneliness, euphoria, impatience, frustration, stress, demotivation, immaturity, laziness… how can we manage all those feelings?  

Its not a secret to assert that entrepreneurship is very complicated, overly complicated. It may look easy, but undertaking is not only about managing human and financial resources, assuming risks and taking decisions- which is hard enough- but also about knowing how to manage emotions, both your own and those of your team.  

This is about challenges, so for the first one we can -and must- be prepared, but what about the second one? How do we prepare ourselves to face that roller coaster of emotions entrepreneurs always have to address in their adventures?  

Huge emotional burden 

Entrepreneurs face several emotional changes, which leads you to believe you are the king of the hill, and the next day, you are on the floor willing to give up on everything. 

Entrepreneurship involves a huge emotional burden. The entrepreneur, beside his own emotions, must deal with those related to managing people too, which are perhaps the most complex ones.  

The serial entrepreneur considers not only necessary, but also mandatory- for a matter of survival- training the management of emotions. Ángel María Herrera, founder of Bubok, Initiator, Samastah and LeemurApp asserts  “I wouldn’t let anyone to become an entrepreneur without previously been aware of this situation and knowing how to manage the emotions that arise around it, because you can destroy many people’s lives”.  

Positive emotions 

The situation of an entrepreneur is without any doubts very particular. He is constantly moving in an environment of change and uncertainty: market, turnover, competition, customers…   

The brain sees that context as a danger in the same way a person perceives the danger of being near a lion.  In the face of this uncertainty situation, the brain reacts as best as it can to protect us physically and that is the reason why feelings such as rage, fear and stress appear…  If we look at it from that point of view, they are positive emotions because their intention is to protect us. That fear, which is aappropriate emotion, is good because it prepares us to face the challenges we have. The fear generates adrenalin and cortisol in our brain to increase our capacity of attention, reaction, concentration… The problem appears when this fear is so big that paralyses us and blocks us… What we have in front of us is takes us out of our comfort zone so much that we aren’t able to connect with the resources the entrepreneur has to fight that challenge off” argues Rosa Cañamero, founder member of Execoach. 

Negative emotions 

The fear, which could be controlled, is further if you anticipate the negative consequences that could happen. “In other words, two persons in the same situation, with the same knowledge and the same experience can feel different fears. Logically, when you have experienced it before, you have less fear because you are aware of the possible danger, the risk, the consequences” adds Rosa Cañamero.   

The fear could be separated in two primary components. According to Sorrentino, we can divide the fear in two main elements: 

  • The emotional side, the other is the rational side. 
  • The last kind of fear is one we can exploit for our own benefit. 

Criminalizing fear 

Carla Sanchez, co-founder of The Hollistic Concept tells that this fear, this uncertainty that  floods the day to day of a project is also due to the fact that when you start and leave everything you had behind to spend all your time on a new project, it causes a huge vertigo. “And you ask yourself doubts such asAm I sure this is going to work out? And if not, you picture yourself with nothing. And, in this context, is normal that doubts, fears, insecurities arise…  Objectively, it is scary.  

And, on the other side, many times you get into business where you may not have 100% mastery the subject, which makes you more stressed than usual.  The ideal is to know how to surround yourself with a team specialized in the areas you don’t master. But to have a team you need resources, which you probably don’t have. That is the reason why entrepreneurship is very difficult. It would be very weird for an entrepreneur to not be under pressure and/or scared.”  

Draw a line under it 

Sánchez recommends drawing a line under the sun too: “When you undertakethe main rule to manage thar roller coaster of emotions is to set limits. When you do a project on paper, it has an aspect and when you start to put it together and face the market, the costumers, the competitors…  you find a completely different scenario. That’s when you must have a plan to protect yourself, by avoiding, among other things, working long hours”

Human resources management

We shouldn’t forget that in all this process, entrepreneurship is intimately related to people management: partners, employees, customers, suppliers… 

For Herrera, the most powerful tool to transmit and tell stories is storytelling“People often approach a company because of the story it tells, for the impact and the footprint it wants to leave on the world. With BuBook we wanted to transform the publishing industry and help anyone to make the dream of publishing books true. That story has been passing onThe way to transmit that purpose is the basis, the culture’s cornerstone, which should be built on purpose. And the way that permeates the organization is to create a storytellingThat story must be very much internalized by the directive part so that it can be transmitted from one to another.” 

Management resources 

But, how can the emotions be managed? Cañamero recommends following these three steps

“The first is to realize you are feeling that emotion. It has been demonstrated that the simple fact of stopping and labelling it (at this moment I am feeling fear, anger…) already helps to low the emotion’s intensity, so from this perspective you can face the challenge better” 

The second step is using a strategy to curb that negative emotion. “A strategy can be to take your mind to a different place than the problem you are always thinking about. This resource is called an emotional patch, because it makes you appease the emotion you are feeling at a certain moment by thinking about something else, by taking your attention elsewhere”  

And the third step is that, little by little, you train your brain so that, when faced with the same stimulus, the emotion you feel has less intensity” 

Finally, what happens with the ambition? 

Don’t forget that entrepreneurship is, among other things, about overcoming challenges, some more ambitious than others. What role does ambition plays in all this? “It is necessary,” emphasizes Herrera. For Polo, it is an ingredient without which an entrepreneur would probably have less of a chance of being able to accelerate than one who does.  Sánchez acknowledges that he has always been an ambitious person, “because I tend to think big, and my partner is the same as me on this point. We think big because the context will take care of placing you. But if you don’t think big you won’t do anything in this world. To be ambitious is to want better things. For Cañamero, ambition, understood as the desire to surpass oneself and achieve goals, is healthy. 

When there is so much confusion and change around you to consider, you are often at the mercy of negative emotions – decisions must be deferred until your emotions interfere less with your mind and until you have more clarity of mind. 

Although it is tempting to respond impulsively at times when emotions are at their height, the outbreak of COVID-19 is an opportunity for us to show our resilience, compassion, patience and adaptability. 

The balance is in knowing who you are, what your possibilities are, how much excitement and enthusiasm you have, and what level of creativity you have. 

Sources:  Emprendedores, Insider

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