How the Most Successful Entrepreneurs View the World

Last night, in this Facebook Mention, together with my friend, Jon Mason, I discussed how the lens through which you see the world impacts your actions, and your success as an entrepreneur.

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When I was 10 years old and my family moved from Iran and spent two years in a refugee camp in Germany, I experienced prejudice for the first time. Many people there had preconceptions about me just because I was from Iran.

Then when my family moved to the U.S., I experienced some of the same thing. When I joined the Army, I met a lot of people that had never met an Iranian before, so I again experienced discrimination.

Then I made some of the most ridiculous friends in the military that were various ethnicities. Eventually the lens that we viewed people through (e.g. “This man is African American, or Asian or. . .”) began to change. We got away from stereotypes that were based on ethnicity.

Entrepreneurs also struggle with this. In fact, the biggest challenge that people go through when going from employee to entrepreneur is that they view things through the wrong lens. They don’t view the world of business in the proper way, in a way that benefits them.

For example, some people who have never made money before may think, “All rich people are greedy.” That’s their lens. Or they may believe that all rich people inherited their wealth, when in reality, the majority of millionaires in America are self-made.

Initially, I viewed money through the wrong lens. I thought that if a person was rich, it was because he had a college degree and probably became a doctor or engineer, or his parents gave him money to start a business.

How the Most Successful Entrepreneurs View the World

Once you become an entrepreneur, you have to begin to see things through a different lens. You have to learn to be creative. The reason is that when you worked as an employee, your “idea machine” stopped working. (I talked about that in this video, and also discuss the study that George Land conducted that showed that all people are born creative, but lose creativity over time, so be sure to check out this post for more details.)

The problem is that as you were growing up, your own creativity was stunted because people told you what to do, and you did it. Through school and employment, you moved into a place of not having to think for yourself.

The reality is that we have incredible minds and creativity, but we lose the ability to use our creativity because of the lens we’re trained to view the world through.

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Here’s the thing. As an entrepreneur, until you change your lens, your life won’t change. Unless you begin to view the world in a completely different way as you start your business, your life won’t change. You’ll continue to have limiting beliefs.

If you hate rich people, you will never be rich.

Why would you want to be what you hate? Envy doesn’t produce action in a way that motivates you to take action. In order to change, you have to redefine how you view the world, and that process takes time.

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One of the things I love to do at our office is pull the staff aside and have lunch with them. I ask them what they think about problems going on in the world. We process those issues together and come up with solutions. As we do, people’s lens’ changes.

I’ll give you a perfect example. My friend, Jon Mason, has become like family to me. He went from being a professional athlete to starting a bar mitzvah company with a friend. In order to make this change into being a very successful entrepreneur, the only thing he had to do was shift his lens. He changed his lens, and the rest is history.

Taking Responsibility as Entrepreneurs

As Jon shared in the video, the biggest shift he had to make when going from employee to entrepreneur was one of taking responsibility. In the corporate world, a lot is handed to you. But when you start paying for an office rather than having your office space handed to you, you’ll show up earlier. When you’re paying for printer ink, you think about what you’re about to print.

Taking responsibility for yourself is a shift that happens not just in business, but in the rest of life as well. If you lean on someone too much, you become handicapped because people do so much for you. As an entrepreneur, you have to shift your lens from people doing things for you, to taking responsibility for things yourself.

How to Shift Your Lens

There isn’t one magic response for how to begin to see things differently. It happens on a case-by-case basis. But one big thing is your why. Why do you want to make a change? Your success as an entrepreneur will largely depend on how bad you want it. You have to hit the point of saying, “enough is enough. I can’t keep doing the same thing I’ve been doing.” You have to realize that you were made for so much more, and move from a place of fear to place of abundance.

This shift happened for Jon in 2013. He realized he was getting older, and that he had a limited amount of time to make changes.

Jon’s father has been a teacher for 47 years. Anyone knows that you don’t become wealthy as a teacher, and that’s been the case for Jon’s father. He’s worked hard all these years, not for money, but because teaching was an honorable thing to do. But now he’s close to retirement, and in spite of all of his hard work, he’s not in the best position financially. This motivates Jon to work hard so he can help provide for his parents.

Invest in Yourself

Another way to bring about change is to invest in yourself. You can’t depend on what others tell you. You must be self-educated. Reading is one of the best ways to do this. A great place to start is by checking out my list of the top 100 books and by joining our book club.

Reading these great books will help you begin to see the world through a different lens, and break through your limiting beliefs.

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