These powerful pieces of spiritual and secular wisdom from various Native American tribes can aid young entrepreneurs today to stay centered, impactful, and positive as they embark upon their quest to change their life and the world.
Ask questions from your heart and you will be answered from the heart. – the Omaha people.
The Omaha people believed in a higher power called the Wakonda –an omnipresent creative force that manifests within and perpetuates order in all living beings. Young Omaha males would fast for four days sitting on a hilltop, praying to this mysterious force for guidance in lifelong guidance. They understood that this guidance answers only to a heart free from pride, ego, and expectations.
As an entrepreneur, your job is to leverage your passions and strengths to find and solve other people’s problems. Any professional sales trainer or start-up consultant will tell you that one of the most important habits you must develop is to “ask questions and listen.” Good questions come from good preparation. The best preparation comes from understanding the heart of your audience and understanding your heart.
In 2016, I attempted to launch a web start up: an online debate platform designed for people that wanted to argue on the Internet about topics such as politics. I had a unique vision, a workable plan, and a solid execution strategy. My consultant and mentor approved of the work I did but he had one major concern before he set me up in front of venture capitalists: Why are you REALLY doing this?
My consultant knew how grueling the start up process is and that the human factor was even more important than the plan. Although I could give a TED Talk about my motivations for starting this project, my consultant derived something else from our many conversations: although I worked hard, my heart was somewhere else. There was something else I was after or running away from.
My consultant’s ominous warnings proved true. Mentally, I was deteriorating at a rapid pace. The amount of work I put into my project distracted me from dealing with issues that I really needed to deal with. Being a highly logical person with an ego, I shut it all out, working harder than I ever did. Meanwhile, my stress and anxiety climbed higher and higher.
Finally, after Trump won the election in November, I turned off my beloved “logic” and started to ask questions from my heart. Why was I doing this? What did I really want? Does the world need my product? With my ego out of the picture, I realized that the world, my audience, and I do not need a platform to argue. We needed more listening; we needed storytelling, connectivity, and healing.
More importantly, I realized that my project was an extension of my ego, not my passion. The young Omaha male fasts for four days to prepare for his spiritual journey. My fasting equivalent was the mental breakdowns I had; they led me to a place where ego and pride was stripped away. Only then, did I start listening to and ask questions from my heart.
Those who have one foot in the canoe, and one foot in the boat, are going to fall into the river. – the Tuscarora people
My goal after college was to leave my folk’s house as soon as possible. I did the opposite. Crazy thing is, I had the resources to move out whenever I wanted to but I was too comfortable. I kept making excuses for myself. If I saved up more money, I will move out and live in the same comfort. I’ll use this opportunity to focus all efforts on getting a job at Google or Facebook. I’ll use this opportunity to build the next hot tech start up.
None of it worked. Although I worked hard and stayed disciplined, I drove myself into severe anxiety and mood disorders. My friend Pascal, college dropout and start-up millionaire by age 23, reached out to me, “It’s all about mental wellbeing and environment. I didn’t become successful until I made the move out of folk’s house.” What did I do? I stayed where I was for another four months until I required psychiatric intervention. Only then, did I put in my two weeks, threw my stuff in the car, and made the move.
The journey I made was not without perils and hardships but in the end, it was worth it. Since making the jump, I landed a job at a great company, I live in the city I love most in the world, I have fully recovered from my mental ailments in record time, follow a very disciplined regimen, and I am back on track working on my side hustles. You have to commit to being fully inside the canoe or fully inside the boat. You have to be brave enough to make the jump. Even if you fall, you will come back stronger.