Are you having an affair with your business?
As entrepreneurs, we have a special connection with what we do for a living. We find significance, growth and fulfillment. When we use our businesses to feed our emotional needs, we sometimes become addicts. As the addiction grows, we cannot leave work behind and we spend more time there -- so much more time that our spouses may think we are having an affair at work.
Statistics show higher divorce rates among entrepreneurs. Passion for their work causes them to sacrifice family life for business success. My work with high level businessmen has helped me see their truth.
Entrepreneurs think that once their company or project takes off there will be more time for their spouses. Speaking from personal experience, that os an illusion. Entrepreneurs always need to innovate. By the time a project is finished or we achieve a certain level of success, we’ve already moved on to our next set of goals. Because of this cycle, the illusion of having more time for our spouses never becomes reality.
There are some things you can do to avoid the trap. You can be successful in both business and love as long as you think of your relationship as an asset instead of a liability.
1. Always market to your partner.
In business, less marketing means lost opportunities. As you communicate less with your customers, you eventually lose the privilege of doing business with them. Why do you think companies spend millions of dollars marketing to existing clients? They want them to come back for more.
This is the same strategy you need to use in your relationship. If want to keep your significant other coming back for more, you must continue marketing and seducing them like you did at the beginning of your relationship. A mentor once told me, “If you keep doing what you did at the beginning of your relationship, there will never be an end.”
2. Don’t stop innovating.
If your business seems stagnant or has plateaued, you need innovation to push it forward. Look at companies like Apple and Tesla. They never stop innovating. Even when they are at the top of their game, they continue improving their products.
The same is true with your relationship. My wife and I have been married for almost 18 years and we’ve been together for 22. Even when things were good we knew we needed to innovate. We agreed that if we wanted our relationship to get to the next level, we had to get help from an expert. Last year, we hired a sex coach. At first, we were uncomfortable sharing our intimate relationship details with someone else. What’s strange is that I hire coaches and consultants for my business all the time and I have no problem sharing my fears and doubts with them. I know they will help me see what I don’t see.
So, why not apply the same philosophy in your relationship? Good is the enemy of great. This is true in your relationship, too.
3. Always share your vision.
If you manage employees, you know the importance of creating a culture inside your company. It is the heartbeat of your business. It’s impossible to create a solid culture if you don’t share your vision.
The same is true of your relationship. If your spouse is going to support your working late nights at the office, taking long trips or risking your savings to support your business, they need to know they are part of the end goal. Paint the vision and include your spouse in it.
My clients are always surprised when they find out that once they create a vision for their relationships, their partners become more understanding and supportive of their businesses. Sharing your vision takes away the guilt and shame you felt when you were spending so much time running your enterprise.
4. Variety is the spice of life.
Most entrepreneurs have more than one project at any given time. We tend to get bored easily and that’s why we need to have multiple projects going at one time. I currently own three companies and I love the thrill of it.
This is where relationships get tricky, especially if you’ve been together for a long time. The things you used to love about your spouse may not excite you now. You eat at the same restaurants, take the same vacations, have the same friends, discuss the same topics -- it’s always the same. You have fallen into the familiarity trap.
This is why so many entrepreneurs find themselves having affairs. They crave the excitement of the unknown in their lives. If you take that route, you create chaos and will hurt more people than you will ever realize. That’s why you need to handle this area of your life with care.
Don’t try to change too many things at once. Mix things up a little at a time. Start by creating an adventure date night. This is where you don’t tell your spouse where you are taking them and then let everything unfold naturally. Keeping everything secret adds mystery and builds excitement.
A couple of years ago, I took my wife on a surprise Valentine’s Day gateway. I made her wear a blindfold the whole way there – from her front door all the way to the airport and on to our final destination – even on the plane! It wasn’t easy. She didn’t find out where we were until they asked her for her passport. It was an amazing trip.
I have learned one thing. My wife wants to know that she is the number one person in my life. She also wants to know I have a purpose in life. As entrepreneurs, we have to learn to put the same passion and energy into our relationships as we do to grow our businesses. Your business will soar because you no longer have to wait until you arrive at your destination to make time for the one you love. The one you love will know she was part of your journey all along.
Unfortunately, some us have to go through pain to learn this. I’ve experienced success and failure in business. Nothing is worse than having the one you love compete with what you love to do. Finding a way to integrate your passion for business and your passion for your partner is an art that will give you the edge.