The Physical and Emotional Truths of Entrepreneurship
He looked at me as if I had just set his office ablaze.
I hadn’t done anything of the sort.
I had however vomited in his wastepaper basket.
It was a wire mesh container and it was not a pretty sight.
He was my $450-an-hour lawyer.
This transpired during my first million-dollar deal and I wasn't dealing with things too well.
My mind was calm because I knew the deal was good and that both parties would be pleased with the financial outcomes of the venture and the related opportunities, but my body felt differently. It shook. I had sweaty hands. My mouth was full of saliva. I wasn’t too keen on sleep for about two weeks.
Here’s the truth: Being an entrepreneur can be like taking two perfectly good eggs, cracking them and scrambling them in a frypan.
To the layperson looking on, it might seem just like two eggs.
But to the entrepreneur, it's a mess of mixed emotion and a swirl of risk-reward assessment. The businessperson is uneasy, never too sure if the heat is about to be lighted under the pan that's keeping it all together.
Being an entrepreneur can seem very different, depending on the vantage point and whether it's a physical or intellectual assessment.
After I had my first child on a Friday, I went back to work on Monday because there is no maternity leave for entrepreneurs. Six months later I drove to my doctor's office. I was beginning to buckle under the stress and pressure I had put on myself to not only be a super mom but also a high-octane entrepreneur as well.
I had been driving along, considering the negotiation I had been having with myself about my ability to manage the life I had built. I drove to the doctor’s office.
My company's bottom line has never been affected negatively by my vomiting in wastepaper baskets but the health of my relationships, pursuit of opportunities before me and my own belief in myself have all been affected from time to time.
A true entrepreneur will find a way to succeed, survive, adapt and transform but all of this comes at an expense. There is a toll on the body and mind that comes from keeping the throttle at full tilt. For a long time I never knew how to pull back on the throttle. Full speed ahead was the only way I knew how to proceed. A lot of my colleagues in entrepreneurship say they feel the same: It's full tilt, no matter what.
I am here to offer the notion that sometimes the emotional and physical toll of full-throttle entrepreneurship can have a cost much greater than what can be measured on a profit and loss statement.
I offer to the entrepreneurs out there who feel like they may have the speed wobbles, that they may also be sick in a wastepaper basket or worse, head to the doctor post haste, please get clear for yourself.
Figure out at what point the physical and emotional toll on you is simply because you're taking your business and life so seriously that you can’t help but feel it emotionally and physically when things both good and bad happen in your business.
Or determine if you’ve crossed a line and need to pull back on the throttle for the benefit of the entire system. Your health, the health of your relationships and your ability to act on opportunities on the horizon will depend on your ability to know the difference.
Usually your gut knows the line: The harder part is confessing up to it.