Momentum Podcast: 8
Entrepreneurial Suppression, What The World Does
by Alex Charfen
As entrepreneurs, we struggle with a peculiar set of behaviors. We know what we should do, but we don't. We know the behaviors we should avoid, but we are called to repeat them. Regardless of how successful we become, we can be plagued by doubt and fear with each major step forward. Most of us are terrible at asking for help or expressing what we want. For almost all of us, the single greatest thing holding us back, is ourselves. What causes us to suppress ourselves like this? There is a logical answer, but it may surprise you.
Full Audio Transcript
This is Episode 8: Entrepreneurial Suppression. As entrepreneurs, we have this maddening but very consistent set of behaviors. We know what we should, but we fall ... We know what we should do, but we fall short of doing it. We, regardless of how successful we become, we're still ... We can have doubt. We can have fear. We can create momentum and still hold ourselves back. And when you look at the Entrepreneurial Personality Type attributes, those 10 attributes we covered in earlier episodes — high sensitivity and awareness, future focus, high processing capacity, highly-adaptable, intense focus on results — we look at those behaviors, those were the first five or, sorry, those attributes.
And what we know is that those attributes drive behaviors that cause us, as Entrepreneurial Personality Types, to show up in a way that we receive negative feedback. Here's what I mean by that. Let's just take one of these behaviors, future focus. We all know that the word for future focus in the world today, the one that we use, the one that we respect, is called "visionary," right? Elon Musk was a visionary. Einstein is a visionary. Jobs is a visionary. You know what they all were as well? They were daydreamers. That ability, that attribute, to future focus, to go into the future, envision a better outcome, then demand it become real, today, that will give you negative stimuli.
If you're a child in school and you are prone to daydreaming, you are going to get negative feedback from your teacher over and over again. Now, if you don't realize it's negative feedback, you're not going to change anything. But once you realize you're getting negative feedback and you get negative stimuli, if you daydream, you're going to try not to. If you're highly sensitive, you're going to try to suppress that sensitivity. If you have high processing capacity and you talk too fast, and you're continuously told that you are talking too fast, you get that negative feedback, you're going to try to stop doing that.
And so, as children, when we display our entrepreneurial attributes, when we show who we really are, when we ask too many questions, when we press forward, when we try to make things different, when we try to improve the things around us, it's almost assured that we are going to receive negative, suppressive stimuli. The feedback we're going to get is negative. And how many times does it take to get negative feedback before we stop doing something? If we put our hand in a hot pan, negative feedback, the ability to recognize negative feedback is important, because if we put our hand in a hot pan and it gets burned, we probably aren't going to put our hand in a hot pan again.
We receive that negative stimuli. It hard-wires us to stop. We don't put our hand in a hot pan again. In fact, pans around stoves are scary from that point forward. So what happens to the young Entrepreneurial Personality Type who has that future focus, or that drive for gained advantage, or that innate motivation that doesn't let them sit still, be calm, be like all the other kids, and listen to someone about something that they don't really care about? That small EPT, dare I say, you and I, receive near-consistent, near-constant negative stimuli around the behaviors through which we are displaying the very attributes that have made every Entrepreneurial Personality Type in history, that you remember, successful.
And so, because of the type of person we are, because we are driven to move forward, we are constantly putting our entrepreneurial attributes on display so that they can be suppressed, so that we can receive negative stimuli. And again, here's what happens. When we receive negative stimuli, there is a natural, evolutionary reduction in whatever activity we're doing, and it's equivalent to the negative stimuli: You put your hand in a hot pan and it burns, the natural, evolutionary instinct is to pull it out. There's a natural, evolutionary reduction of the activity.
Now, the challenge is, for people like us, the very attributes that make us successful are those that are suppressed most often. In fact, when you look at a small child with innate motivation, who's driven to move forward, who wiggles in his chair, who bounces around, who can't sit still, that child is going to hear things constantly. Now, what type of behavior is rewarded in the systems in which you and I fail? What type of behavior is rewarded in, let's be honest, today, how many of us could sit for six hours in a school like we ask our children to?
But memorizers in school are rewarded constantly. In fact, when someone memorizes, they receive positive stimuli in school, in fact, positive feedback 100% of the time. If you're able to memorize and repeat, if you're able to memorize, organize, and repeat, you can do even better. For a memorizer, they receive constant positive stimuli. The entrepreneur? Near-constant negative. But someone who memorizes, we call them a valedictorian. Someone who memorizes, we call them top of the class. Someone who memorizes, they're an A student.
Now, here's the challenge with that other side, because there's this natural, evolutionary development of that ability. In fact, there's this positive feedback loop for someone who can memorize that is near constant in their childhood, and how many of you know someone who was good at that, maybe even was at the top of their class, but now has graduated and can't figure out how to get purchase or move forward, because memorizing is a skill that, in the rest of the world, means little or nothing? See? The brain surgeon who memorizes, who gets nothing but positive stimuli, goes to school, becomes a valedictorian, gets the scholarship to school, does the best in their rotation, is the best brain surgeon in the world, it's not a cliché or a ... Or, it is a stereotype, but it's a deserved one, that the neurosurgeon is difficult to be around.
I know. I've had a client who was a neurosurgeon, and he told me he was difficult to be around. Because there is no suppression in the systems today for that person. There's constant accolade, and it can make a human being difficult to be around. Now, for you and I, this entrepreneurial suppression, when we show who we are, can cause us to hold ourselves back. So if you have a moment right now, go back to Episodes 4 and 5, and listen again to the 10 attributes of the Entrepreneurial Personality Type. I'll remind you of them right now. High sensitivity and awareness, future focus, high processing capacity, high adaptability, intense focus on results, bias for improvement, experimental, or experiential learning, perceiving unique connections, and drive for gained advantage, and then the last one, innate motivation.
When you go through those, you can very quickly see how each one would cause behaviors that would almost immediately and automatically be suppressed in the systems you and I existed in. But when we look at each one of those attributes, we can also see how they can produce the visionary entrepreneur, the world-changer, the person who's brilliant and creates an entirely new outcome no one could see. In fact, those are the very attributes that will. So I want you to go back and listen to Episodes 4 and 5, because we know that your high sensitivity and awareness, under high pressure and noise, is going to make you feel edgy, distracted, and anxious.
Your high sensitivity and awareness, under low pressure and noise, when you're dialed in, when you're doing what you should be doing, it's perceptive, intuitive. You can almost see things people can't, other people can't. Your high processing capacity, under low pressure and noise, makes you quick, accurate, almost machine-like in your ability to recall. Under high pressure and noise, that high processing capacity can make you socially awkward, mind-racing, indecisive. I know, I've been both. Bias for improvement, under high pressure and noise, under suppression, that bias in improvement, for improvement, can make us obsessive, even compulsive. But under low pressure and noise, when it's supportive, that bias for improvement can make us constructive and creative.
See, it's the suppression that we've experienced that often creates the label of disordered or diagnosis that we get. For a lot of you, you're hearing this about your children. You're hearing that they can't sit still in class, that they move around too much, that they're too kinetic, that they have an excess of attention, as if that was possible for a human being. But the fact is that, today, ADHD has become code for, "Needs medication to sit in class," and I would present to you that this, the child who has a fraction of awareness we do, a fraction of the life experience we do, a fraction of the understanding of what's going on around them that you and I do, has a near-impossible time when they are like us, because the systems, the structures around children have only gotten more constraining.
We've gone from one day of standardized testing, 20 years ago, to now, in some school districts, there isn't standardized testing, preparation, or pretesting a few days a year. Children are being labeled, suppressed, and put into boxes at a rate that they never have before. I want us, you and I, all of us, to lean into this discovery around the Entrepreneurial Personality Type. Because when we understand that the very attributes that make us look challenged are exactly what makes us successful, we can shift the paradigm, support each other in an entirely more productive way, and help each other create momentum.
Because I have coached, and worked with, and been around, and had the privilege of partnering with some of the most successful people in the world, and here's what I can tell you about every one of us: Suppression may not be the only thing that holds us back in our lives, but it's the thing that most of us struggle with the most. As Entrepreneurial Personality Types, we are constantly trying to get past what's happened to us in the past, overcome it, and be able to fully show who we are, and entrepreneurs throughout history have called back to those at the beginning of their career and said, "Believe in yourself. Let the light inside you show. Don't die with the music in you. You can do this. You're capable of anything that you put your mind to. If you think it, you shall achieve it."
Entrepreneurs have been trying to tell us forever to cast off the suppression of the rest of the world and create momentum, and I want to call you on this same journey. Go back to Episodes 4 and 5. Go through the Entrepreneurial Personality Type attributes. Understand how strong, how magical, how incredible they make you. Because people like you and I are capable of changing the world, and I want you to build a team, create a company, create new outcomes in the world, and drive it until it is an empire, because that's what people like you and I need. We need protection from the rest of the world, and a little company won't do. I want you to have empires, layers of protection, and create all of the momentum you possibly can.
Because when people like you and I get past the suppression we've encountered all of our lives, it's amazing just how much momentum we can create. In Episode 9, I'm going to discuss entrepreneurial loops and spirals. If entrepreneurial suppression is what the world has done to us, entrepreneurial loops and spirals are the actions we take that hold us in place. I want to explain them to you, show you the evolutionary reasons why we behave this way, and help you stop limiting behaviors and create momentum. If you haven't yet, take a minute now. Subscribe to the Entrepreneurial Personality Type Podcast for me, and while you're doing that, leave us a review. I'd love to know what you think.