Charisma, creativity and enthusiasm are some of the traits that can be used to describe entrepreneurs. The holders of a creative mind that view the world in a different perspective. While the description may be glamorous and fascinating on the surface and while it may be true, it also entails many challenges, and obstacles accompanies with negative emotions. However, there is no such thing as a perfect profession, let alone a perfect person. The importance lies in how we deal with these challenges and turn it into a learning lesson for future obstacles by healthily managing our own emotions.
The characterization of the entrepreneur’s shadow as “the dark side of entrepreneurship”, gives us an idea of how all the success and the money we may see is just the tip of the iceberg. Below it, the reality reveals itself in harsh yet authentic ways. Some aspects include, need for control, distrust for those around them, (Kets de Vries., 20), and the inevitability of failure (Leyes., 2020). However, these traits do not encompass the whole truth, as negative emotions are a large part of this gloomy aspect of entrepreneurship, which include fear of failure, stress, anxiety, loneliness, shame and incompetence. While these emotions are commonly seen among all in various professions, another aspect that adds another level of complexity is the mere fact that many entrepreneurs value money and profit over psychological factors. Whether it be addressing one’s emotions or actively engaging in self-care, management of personal psychological factors are crucial for both mental and physical well-being.
The duality of physical and mental well-being isn’t the only pair that is important when considering one’s healthy decision-making process. An informed decision, a decision aligned with one’s values and beliefs, can be made through the wise mind, which is a combination of the logical brain and the emotional brain. As per the name, the logical brain is located in the frontal lobe and is responsible for logical reasoning based on factual information. On the other hand, the emotional brain is in the amygdala which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response. Contrary to the logical brain, it takes into account our own current emotional state. The union and balance of these two decision making processes allow us to make the most optimal decision based on facts and grounded rationals while still acknowledging our emotions (Schenck.,).
Clearly, our emotions are not negligible in the decision-making process, while it is equally vital to prevent these strong emotions from overpowering the logical reasoning. Entrepreneurs with strong negative emotions may experience amygdala hijack, a state where the logical brain is unfunctional and the decision is made solely based on the emotional brain, leading to a downward spiral of decisions due to the lack of grounded rationals involved in the process. Arlin Cuncic suggests the best way to prevent this imbalanced process is to increase one’s emotional intelligence. Whether that be to practice mindfulness or managing your emotions, it’s the ability to acknowledge and integrate your emotions that allow us to make the best informed decision. A study by Vivianna Fang He, et al. examining the relationship between learning from failure and emotion regulation demonstrates that learning is more positive for entrepreneurs who can effectively regulate their emotions. More simply, it suggests that our emotional management affects the relationship between failure and learning. Furthermore, O’Shea et al. presents a similar relationship between emotion and action in their study where in addition to our current emotional state, our anticipated emotions also influence future behaviour. Whether it be positive emotion or negative emotion, they impact our behaviour in varying ways.
These negative emotions are inevitable. However, emotional management and emotional intelligence are something that can help us cope with it and learn how to integrate it into our healthy decision making. Our emotions may not be the mirror image of reality but it reflects our internal state, don’t ignore it.
Kets de Vries, M. F. (2014, August 01). The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://hbr.org/1985/11/the-dark-side-of-entrepreneurship
Leyes, K. (2020, June 17). 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Dark Side of Entrepreneurship. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.influencive.com/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-dark-side-of-entrepreneurship/
Schenck, L. (2011, October 19). What is “Wise Mind?” Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.mindfulnessmuse.com/dialectical-behavior-therapy/what-is-wise-mind
Fang He V, Sirén C, Singh S, Solomon G, von Krogh G. Keep Calm and Carry On: Emotion Regulation in Entrepreneurs’ Learning from Failure. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. 2018;42(4):605-630. doi:10.1177/1042258718783428
O’Shea D, Buckley F, Halbesleben J. Self-regulation in entrepreneurs: Integrating action, cognition, motivation, and emotions. Organizational Psychology Review. 2017;7(3):250-278. doi:10.1177/2041386617705434