Declaring herself an advocate for an entrepreneurial mindset, Ms Gail Mothlaudi – Lecturer and Coordinator: Centre of Entrepreneurship, Sol Plaatje University – urged her audience to say yes to life.
Speaking to the topic Remaining courageous and confident in hardship: don’t merely survive, T.H.R.I.V.E, Ms Mothlaudi (left) asked members of the virtual audience at the inaugural Economic Activation Workshop of The Student Women Economic Empowerment Project, (SWEEP) to send her some energy.
“Everything is energy,” she told delegates as she applauded the birth of SWEEP – an initiative of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme, launched in 2021 and inspired by widespread concern over the under representation of women in entrepreneurship.
In the first workshop of its kind, held virtually on FaceBook and Zoom, the third, and final, day’s topic was Sustainability and Resilience.
Telling the participants to “play full out, to be present” she said that saying “Yes” changes the environment into one where everything is possible. “The way you do anything is the way you do everything. So, sustain the spread of excellence: it’s at the core of all you are, and all you do.”
She unpacked her unusually titled topic, first defining the word “remain” as something that continues to exist after things had ceased. Then she broke the word down into Re (to do it again) and Main (focus). Courage she called bravery while doing things that frighten us. “Do it afraid, do it uncertain, do it tired… just do it,” she said.
Confident she described as feeling and showing certainty in one’s qualities and abilities, saying: “Faith it till you make it,” – her reference to Divine assistance.
Survive, she said, was continuing to exist despite danger or hardship: “In the pandemic, entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos continued to do business, to thrive, not just survive” she said.
To thrive, Ms Mothlaudi said, was to harness skills, to think differently; to transform mindsets from being problem focused to being solution focused. “That is what empowers you,” she said.
Harnessing skills led to being in control. “It is central to entrepreneurship to identify your skills, then learn to be in control of them. “Create, don’t react. Rebrand. Ask yourself what you stand for, what your business stands for, and be innovative. Venture into unchartered waters and be bold, fearless.”
She said that there was no better time to fix the future than the present, saying: “Be proactive. You thrive in life, in a career, in a relationship, through having an entrepreneurial mindset. It is a way of thinking that helps you overcome challenges. Be decisive and accept responsibility for outcomes. It also helps you improve your skills as you learn from your mistakes.”
What makes up this mindset?
She outlined the characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset:
- Creative thinking – challenging conventional thinking.
- Taking action – being proactive.
- Listening – to others, to yourself (intuition).
- Seeing the big picture – being visionary.
- Learning from experience.
- Wanting to have an impact. “This should not be about ME but WE. We have to create an environment where we are all doing better,” she said.
Ms Mothlaudi said that the biggest killer of the entrepreneurial mindset was not failure, bad ideas, or a bad economy but self-doubt. “That is what kills our dreams, dampens our purpose. You have to master you inner game, your mind. Your thinking must be right.
“We think of problems as relating to money, health, relationship – but the biggest problem is our thinking.” She told how she had health related issues when, several weeks ago, she was invited to speak at the SWEEP workshop. “I could have said no, I’ll be in pain. But I said yes, I decided to show up and it changed my mindset. The problem is not your problem; your thinking is. Fix your thinking. You cannot think bad thoughts and feel good!”
Ms Mothlaudi said we all live simultaneously in two zones; our inner world, that holds all our hopes, ambitions, dreams, desires and our outer world, which is filled with situations and circumstances – things that happen to us.
The subconscious mind
Our conscious mind is responsible for just 0,5% of our thinking while our inner mind, our subconscious, accounts for 95-99%. It is this mind that controls all our body systems, she said. “That is why transforming your thinking is so important. Earl Nightingale said: “Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.”
Ms Mothlaudi, who runs marathons, said that when a runner is in training, she does not run the full 42km distance of a marathon. This means that since she has not actually run a marathon in training, she does not know whether she will have the stamina to complete it. To get her through the race, she says she repeats a mantra to change her mindset and get her to the finish line. “Affirmations are key. The more you say it, the more actions gravitate towards it. As Soledad O’Brien said, ‘Being an entrepreneur is a mindset – you have to see things as opportunities all the time’.”
She urged participants to go in search of a successful person in their chosen field and study what it is that makes them successful. It was essential to start to think like a successful person. “We are human beings, not human doings. So – be before you do.”
Charmain Naidoo is a contract writer for Universities South Africa