Sherrod Michael

Entrepreneur: Sherrod Says Tolerance of Ambiguity is the Key Trait of Successful Entrepreneurs

“It all boils down to being able to successfully manage fear,” Neeley’s entrepreneur-in-residence told the magazine. 

February 13,  2014

By Elaine Cole

Do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur? You don’t necessarily need to be a Type A personality or have a sales background, but there are certain characteristics that entrepreneurs share, including tenacity, passion, tolerance of ambiguity, vision, self-belief, flexibility and rule-breaking.

In the January 2014 Entrepreneur magazine article, “The 7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs,” Michael Sherrod, the William H. Dickey entrepreneur-in-residence at the Neeley School of Business, told Entrepreneur writer Joe Robinson that the ability to stand up to fear is crucial if you want to succeed as your own boss.

Excerpt from Entrepreneur magazine, January 2014:

    Tolerance of Ambiguity
    This classic trait is the definition of risk-taking—the ability to withstand the fear of uncertainty and potential failure. “It all boils down to being able to successfully manage fear,” notes Michael Sherrod, entrepreneur-in-residence at the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University.

    He sees the ability to control fear as the most important trait of all.

    “Fear of humiliation, fear of missing payroll, running out of cash, bankruptcy, the list goes on.”

    Jill Blashack Strahan knows the fear factor. The founder and CEO of Tastefully Simple, a direct-sales company for gifts and easy-to-make meals, remembers the calls to her bank when she was three months overdue on her mortgage.

    “That fear that I would lose my house almost controlled me,” says Blashack Strahan, who also had to overcome the deaths of her brother and then her husband shortly afterward. “The night after the funeral of my husband, I thought maybe I should give up, get a job and be a mom.”

    This is where the ultimate entrepreneurial test takes place, on the mental battlefield. You can go with the fear and quit, or push through it. “I said no; this idea is going to work,” Blashack Strahan says. “We have the power to control our thoughts. When we commit mentally, our action follows.” She made a conscious decision to push through the fear. Her company had sales in 2012 of $98 million.

    While many would feel powerless in the face of such adversity, “the entrepreneur looks at the situation and knows he has some control over the outcome,” says Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days