The Importance of Non-judgement and non-attachment in sales and entrepreneurship

The last blog post talked about the importance of failure.

There are two mindsets that makes failure acceptable and bearable, and they are non-judgment and non-attachment.

Both of these mindsets mean that you can go all out to get your business going, or to make a sale—but you stay a bit detached. You don’t judge yourself. You don’t take things personally. You don’t wrap your ego up in how things go, and instead drive to the outcome.

If things work out, great! If they don’t, you observe what happened, learn, make adjustments, and try again.

Many people misinterpret non-attachment to mean that one is passive. That’s not the case. You still move forward powerfully and with full intent. You still give it your all. But you don’t add the junk that so many people add—like tying your sense of personal worth to your success or failure.

A friend and business partner and I recently invested lots of money in a business that didn’t quite work out. I mourned it for a while, and then moved on. He is still kicking himself about the result. What’s the point?

There is a Zen story about two monks crossing a river, when they meet a beautiful naked girl. She asks for help crossing the river. The older monk picks her up and crosses the river, while the younger monk looks on in shock (as monks are supposed to be celibate and avoid beautiful naked girls). A mile or so down the river, the younger monk is still in shock, and can’t stop thinking about the older monk’s behavior. The older monk says something like, “I crossed the river with that girl a mile ago and left her there, yet you still carry her.” I think lots of people still carry their burdens of long and not so long ago.

There is a great book called the Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Galloway that everyone should read—tennis player or not. In it, Galloway talks about a Self 1 and a Self 2. Self 1 is our rational, thinking self. It is the self that gets all wrapped up in ego and judgment. It is the self that causes players to talk to themselves on the court, or throw their racket when they miss a shot. Self 2 is the self that actually gets things done, and hits the ball—without thinking, but simply by doing. His approach is about trusting and developing Self 2.

The same applies to business. The more you can let your Self 2, your non-judgmental and non-attached observer and doer, do the job, the happier and more successful you will be.

Another fine book to read is Money and the Meaning of Life—which gets into our attachment to and judgments about money. How we think about money has a lot to do with our enjoyment and ultimate fulfillment and success.

Failure means nothing. Success means nothing. Striving for excellence and fun—that’s everything (and also nothing).

Hopefully this does not come across as too fluffy or mystical. It is a very crucial point, and a hard one to put into practice.