what entrepreneurs can learn from the Running of the Bulls


i kneeled onto the gravel ground, the Spanish sun beaming at my back, the impending threat of a Spanish bull towering at my front. here I was at the Festival of San Fermin, or Running of the Bulls, and placating myself before the very terror i had been running away from 10 minutes later. fuck it, i whispered, let's do this.

around 11 years ago, i accepted the fate that injured 7 people at this year's activities and ran my heart out. i ran with the bulls, kneeled before the bull in the ring to entice the bull to come out again, and got close enough to swipe at the bull.

what I learned during this experience is that you can only control the process. process and outcome are two separate things - my process of running and managing my nerves versus the outcome of success or possible mauling. and the only thing you should worry about is the process - because that is the only thing you can control. the outcome is out of your hands, and frankly not worth any mental energy to fret over.

some of the best entrepreneurs i see only worry about the process. they worry about the product, their team, their seo, and how they manage their business. they're not fixated on the outcome - if there is a negative outcome or event, they look at the process and ask themselves how to fix it; they don't let the outcome control their emotions. this applies to positive events as well - if a big customer signs, great, but yes let's move on.

i train myself to focus on process - every year i try to do an adventure trip that has a potentially negative outcome. my last big one was with the MBAdventurists, where we drove from London to Ulan Bator with an oversized ambulance and no map. and during the trip there were four instances where there were disastrous consequences (mechanical failure, broken parts) that would have left us incapable of finishing the race. each and every one of those four instances were valuable as a learning lesson on how to focus on solving the problem, not on the outcome of us being stranded in the middle of Russia.