In all the years of interviewing successful physician entrepreneurs for my Conversations with Trailblazers podcasts, there is one consistent piece of advice that physicians have shared, and this belongs to Bill Murphy Jr's Rule Number 9 in "The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How 3 Harvard Business School graduates learned the 10 rules of successful entrepreneurship".
Persist, persevere, prevail.
In fact, Chapter 20 of the book opens with this reinforcing quote from President Calvin Coolidge:
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race."
Harsh? Perhaps, but very true according to my interviewees ... and from my own personal experience.
I've written previously about the role of luck in entrepreneurial physician success -- there will always be both good and bad luck, and timing, and serendipity. But, as Murphy writes, "The key is persisting long enough to take advantage of the good fortune that does come your way".
What I'm referring to is a mental model - our way of interpreting the way the world works for us.
If you believe that you are entitled to success, that you were smart enough to make it through med school and therefore this will be a breeze, and that your medical pedigree is enough to get you results, you may be headed for disappointment.
Or if you are easily intimidated by setbacks and discouraged when the results of your efforts are slow to show, you may be tempted to abandon your entrepreneurial venture long before you can take advantage of any good fortune headed your way.
Problem to be addressed + quality team + managed risk + luck + persistence = increased odds of success!
Here's something else to ponder -- A recent article in the N.Y. Times Sunday magazine was titled "What if the secret to success is failure?" While it dealt mainly with parenting and educating children, it focused on the development of character. And character includes traits such as optimism, perseverance and resilience.
" ...the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence. They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class."
How quickly are you able recover from a setback?
How willing are you to keep plugging away at the venture or project you passionately believe in (even if you are sometimes sick of thinking about it!)?
Persist, persevere, prevail. Don't forget this rule - from everyone I've spoken to, it stands out above all others!
Here are the 8 prior rules: