Be the Atypical Entrepreneur
Practice Balance, Part 2 of 6
“Those who pursue a life of happiness live each moment wholly in the present. Those who pursue a life of meaning wallow in the past and obsess about the future.” – Tim Kring, author of the TV series “Heroes”
Recently someone asked me if this column is still about starting a business. I said, “Yes!” And yet I can appreciate that the discussion of balance seems misplaced or possibly irrelevant to entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs seek meaning and happiness through the pursuit of bringing an idea to fruition. Tim Kring seems to think a life of meaning and a life of happiness are mutually exclusive; at least, they focus energy in disparate directions. So what does an ideal entrepreneurial life look like?
Entrepreneurs are often driven, type A personalities. In the early days and months of a startup – even the early years – there is tremendous pressure to get to market quickly, to get sales and more sales, to “ramp up,” and to please investors. The biggest resource consumed is time (and then cash). Often someone jumps into a startup because they are excited about an idea and the opportunity that idea presents to make a really big difference or a lot of money or both. The pace is exhilarating, the networking can be heady, and the travel exciting – at first. But then things take longer and cost more than projected, tensions rise, personalities and values clash, and if you have a family they probably haven’t seen you much lately.
Entrepreneurs also demand a lot of themselves. They frequently push themselves far more than an average employee during the course of a week and yet often the only thing they see is the “gap,” the difference between what they have accomplished and what else they still feel they have to do; in other words, the difference between their present circumstances and the vision they have of the future. That gap keeps them in a perpetual state of frenzy, because no matter how hard they work there will always be a gap – something more to be done. At best, they acknowledge a success fleetingly while getting right back to work targeting the next objective. It is very hard for the typical entrepreneur to bask in the glory of achievement and take it out of gear for a bit.
Ironically, when an entrepreneur hits all his targets, creating a large and flourishing organization that runs more or less without him, he gets bored. The stage of a company’s lifecycle that an entrepreneur likes best is the idea-to-startup stage. Once a company is past that point into steady growth or steady state, it requires a different skill set, different operations management, different strategies – none of which an entrepreneur finds appealing. If an entrepreneur actually sees an idea through to fruition, he usually bales and goes looking for the next thing to start. This means you can’t save an entrepreneur from herself; she’s going to put herself in a position of having to work all-out around the clock, driving herself mercilessly.
Unless he or she is atypical and learns to practice balance!
I have come to understand that a key to finding balance is to focus. That small, innocuous word, focus, that has been bandied about looms larger and larger the more it eludes me. Gurus preach “focus” from every pulpit. I’m beginning to understand why. It’s the key to time management. It’s the key to efficiency and productivity. Better yet, it’s the key to results – and the key to balance. Because when you master the art of focus and put your effort into the core, the very essence of your vision, you achieve stellar results and have time left over for other things.
By other things I mean non-work related things. Things that lead to creative thought, introspection, reflection. Things that lead to deeper relationships and compassion. Things that lead to better health – more rest, more nutrient dense food, more fresh air. Travel, new experiences that change perspectives, dialogue, books on subject matter we as yet know nothing about but which arouse our curiosity. Leisure time. Time to give thanks. Time for appreciation for how abundant our lives are just by the mere fact we woke up this morning.
The atypical entrepreneur is an enlightened entrepreneur who pursues focus with a relentless passion and then balances that by using the time he has freed for deeply and truly embracing and experiencing life, remembering why he works to begin with. We work to make a difference in the world. We work to make a difference to our families. We work to live the most authentic, alive, engaged life we can for ourselves. Through the conscious pursuit of balance we can have a life of meaning that brings us happiness, even as we continue to drive ourselves to close the gap!
Beaufort resident Jamie Wolf is the author of ‘Start Over! Start Now! Ten Keys to SUCCESS in Business and Life’ and ten accompanying guidebooks. If you’re ready to be Master of your Fate and Captain of your Soul, she invites you to come on board! Jamie offers online courses and coaching for entrepreneurs and people interested in starting over or in starting their own business. Visit her at http://www.thestartover.com