Stress, Anxiety; Calm Down & read on...
Anyone who thinks that life as an entrepreneur is sexy or glamorous is most probably delusional. Life in the perceived fast lane comes at a significant cost. The life of an entrepreneur is full of high stimulation, dozens of moving goal posts, and high self-expectations of success. This super-charged world leads to an addictive growth in stress, anxiety and a desire for more. Is this ideal? There must be a better way
Successful entrepreneurs achieve hero status. We idolize the likes of Zuckerberg, Musk and Acton. We celebrate the blazingly fast growth of their startups as they drive abnormal consumer adoption. However, many of those entrepreneurs harbor secret demons: Before they made it big, they struggled through moments of near-debilitating anxiety and despair. The recent article The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship told a gripping and direct account of scary realities entrepreneurs face. Some boldly claim they thrive on the pressure. Right from the start of my career, I knew that most people in the corporate world were aware of the dangers of stress. Some stress is good, but too much is bad. All through my career, casualties of the business environment - suffering poor health, broken relationships, early retirements or even premature deaths - have surrounded me. We might be asking: How can stress ever be good?
Over the past few years, I was seduced by the destructive cycle of stimulants (espresso addiction), escapes (scotch and sake) and the constant drive for performance and success. It is amazing the headspace one can get into if they focus enough, creating motivational realities that direct every thought.
Being in New York, 12,000 miles away from family in Singapore, meant that I could selfishly focus beyond any normal father. That drive cost me poor health, anxiety and stress-infused warped realities. One of the best accounts I’ve read comes from Charlie Hoehn’s book Play It Away - a personal account of his workaholic life, exploring everything to keep up the pace while working on huge profile book and its marketing campaigns.
Charlie’s story leads to an unlikely resolve of his stress and anxiety, resulting in a healthy, happier and more productive Charlie. I’ll leave you to read his book to find out how he found resolve. It’s a great read.
In Mark’s new book (which I got an exclusive preview) “Calm: a necessary revolution in business thinking” is devoted to tackling stress head on. Mark does a great job of creating a simple four step approach to finding a calm mind amongst the stress:
- Stop: Take a quick step back and look at the situation. A frantic mind makes matters worse. Recognise that whenever you feel stress it means you are not thinking straight. Get some help. Just talking things through with someone else can give you a different, fresh, perspective
- Tackle the issue: Can you change the situation? The fastest way to relieve stress is to remove the stressor. Create a bit of space to take a good look. By looking at things in a calm mindful way, and seeking the views of others, many problems that seemed impossible to fix turn out to have many possible solutions.
- Understand: Can you change your thinking about the situation? There are some problems that just don’t have easy answers. Calm uses a mindfulness approach called the three principles to help clients understand how they created the stressful reaction, so they can also have the means to resolve it.
- Be Intolerant: If you can’t resolve the problem or your thinking about it, then you must remove yourself from the situation. We use our natural resilience to help us through short term issues, but if your mental resources are diminishing, you are heading for a breakdown. You are not doing yourself or those around you any favours by experiencing chronic stress.
People can, and do, worry themselves into an early grave, when its completely not necessary. Some of us find clarity through play, some through meditation. One thing, however, is true - a clear mind is a productive mind.
I encourage those of you that experience stress or anxiety to grab Charlie or Mark’s books, and share your experiences and thoughts with others. Today is the day to take action.