As entrepreneurs, we are under a lot of stress as the world is continuously moving at a faster and faster pace. Instead of slowing it down, entrepreneurs like us strive daily to outpace it. The entrepreneurs and influencers we admire seem like they have it all together, and so we try to repress our own emotions to be more like them. We believe we’ll take a breather once we’ve made it.

STOP! Unless you’re a psychopath, emotions are not only necessary, they’re your secret weapon. I’m going to walk you through five mindset shifts that will help you become the master of your emotions and harness their power to make tough decisions . . . like samurais.

See the 5 mindset shifts below:

1. Life will almost never be as bad as whatever “worst case scenario” you’ve imagined

“Negative Visualization” is a technique beloved by stoics and samurais alike. To conquer their fear of failure, samurais force themselves to imagine the worst-case scenario a lot. No, it’s not pessimistic, it’s a reality check.

Negative Visualization puts you back in control. Rather than being at the mercy of a random universe, you now know the worst that could happen. Due to this, you’ll probably discover that it wasn’t all that bad after all.

Mindset shift: “When I’m dealing with a stressful decision, I will imagine the absolute worst-case scenario. Then, I will realize that a) this is very unlikely to happen, and b) even if it does, I’m now in control and prepared.”

“In morning meditation, see yourself killed in various ways, such as being shredded by arrows, bullets, swords, and spears, being swept away by a tidal wave, burned by fire, struck by lightning, dying in an earthquake, falling from a great height, or succumbing to overwhelming sickness.” – Yamamoto Tsunetomo, 17th century samurai

2. Nobody actually knows what they’re doing and that’s okay

Everybody’s winging it. When we’re in the pit of self-doubt, facing a decision that feels impossible, we feel inadequate. We wonder if we deserve to be where we are or if we are an imposter. The truth is, nobody knows what they’re doing—not really. Sure, they can put up an impressive front on social media, but inside, even the most successful people in the world have doubts.

Mindset shift: “It’s normal to feel lost. Everybody does—especially when facing important decisions. Instead of fighting those emotions off, I’ll embrace them for what they are: a completely normal part of the entrepreneurial life.”

3. You make irrational decisions when your emotions are out of control

Wild emotions lead to irrational decisions. This may sound obvious, but so many entrepreneurs interpret it as “bury your emotions” rather than “address them.” Burying emotions flat-out doesn’t work, so stop trying.

Phrases such as “Suck it up,” “It’s not that bad,” “Everybody else can handle this better than me,” are negative self-talk which flusters and burns more of your limited cognitive energy. Instead, accept your emotional state as it is and try this Navy SEAL technique: intentional breathing.

Mindset shift: The next time I’m making an overwhelming decision, I’ll take five minutes to breathe like a SEAL:

  • Inhale for 4 beats
  • Hold for 4 beats
  • Exhale for 4 beats
  • Hold for 4 beats

4. Acting “tough” doesn’t help anyone

Many of us became entrepreneurs in the first place because we want to change the world for the better. However, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, there is no way you’re going to be able to help others effectively. If your basic needs aren’t met, you can’t support your friends, family, and clients in the way you’d like to. Because of this you must always take care of yourself.

Mindset shift: “I won’t sacrifice my wellbeing to appease others. My decision will prioritize my ability to eat right, sleep well, take breaks, meditate, have fun, work out, and check in with my emotions.”

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” – Buddha

5. Sometimes, you need to be tough enough to ask for help

When samurais are young, masters teach them Kendo (“the way of the sword”), Zen Buddhism, the samurai moral code, and how to live according to Bushido (“the way of the warrior”).

Three-fourths of those deal directly with the inner workings of the mind. And yet, so many of us entrepreneurs today are hesitant to seek help for the problems in our own minds. If you’re happy and well-rested, you’re more likely to have a productive, positive meeting.

Mindset shift: “I accept that unclouding my mind will lead to better decision-making. To achieve that, I’ll probably need outside help: a nutritionist, a confidant, a therapist, or a trainer. Getting help doesn’t make me weak—it shows I’m willing to do whatever it takes to achieve my goals.”

Samurais don’t reject their emotions or fears, they lean into them to find the strongest way forward. So whether you are selecting your next entrepreneurial venture, deciding who to hire or fire, or determining the most productive way to spend your morning, elevate your judgment by staying grounded in reality and focusing on what you can actually control. Only then can you become a true decision-making samurai.

Which one of these mindset shifts resonates most with you at the moment? Let us know which one and why in the comments below!

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