What Kobe Bryant Can Teach Us About Entrepreneurship

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This post was originally published on NOEW.org. New Orleans Entrepreneur Week is an annual festival celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation in New Orleans. 

In the past year as an entrepreneur, I’ve pivoted more than Kobe Bryant in the playoffs.

I have reconsidered what I’m doing in business, asking myself: Am I doing enough? What am I doing right now with my business? Am I doing the right things?  If you told me six months ago that I’d be pitching and growing a digital booking agency for local professional photographers that supported high school students interested in digital media, I’d go cross eyed.

If only there were a central goal, a basket to get the ball into, or a line to cross that spelled success.

But here’s one fact of starting a business – you’re going to pivot more than Kobe in the playoffs when you begin. You’re going to play the entire court, and find bounds and limitations. Like death and taxes, pivoting in entrepreneurship is inevitable.

And it doesn’t come easy. It comes with hesitation and doubt, fears of failure and success, and a sense of “imposter syndrome” that can damage your ability to persevere and grow.

Thoughts like – I was just learning how to invoice in QuickBooks six months ago. Do I deserve to be here? Am I ready? Is my vision bold enough? creep in and out. Those thoughts will run rampant if you leave them unmanaged.

It’s easy to feel lost in the minutia of start-up mode and burn out when you’re working towards your bigger vision. And it’s just as easy to get lost in the clouds and fail to gain traction.

Both directions can lead to disaster, and there’s no marked path to get through it. This is the game successful entrepreneurs must play – how to keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds.

The greatest skill I’ve learned in the past six months is how to position myself in between these two points.

Some days I wake up like Kobe, dancing on the court, feeling out the resistance and defenses of the market, assessing my position. Other days I have my head down slowly turning red as I crank out video edits or invoices.

By taking time to work artistically and detach from the grind, I replenish my creative and energetic self. And when I’m feeling emotionally drained from creating and growing, I find comfort in working on the disciplined work of the core business.

Success in entrepreneurship means more than shooting a basket or carrying a ball across a line. It’s about more than the money we make. As entrepreneurs, we have the opportunity and responsibility to innovate and improve lives. And to do that we must grow, pivot, and struggle to transform our ideas into realities. To get to that reality, we have to learn how to pivot, not only our businesses, but also ourselves.

Robert Warren

Robert Warren has been wading through New Orleans since 2011 when he arrived as a humble high-school teacher. Teaching is a joy, but his passion is creative expression, and he now runs RSW Enterprises LLC, a growing production and educational company. He trains everyone from career professionals, to high-school students, on the technicalities and joys of visual expression.

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