The term entrepreneur is thrown around a lot these days. Being entrepreneurial is a sought-after trait that has become synonymous with being adventurous, problem-solving, risk-taking, world-changing, and a thought leader. Even within the teams we work with, people are encouraged to be more entrepreneurial.
I've recently had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time around many of these successful entrepreneurs. I am amazed by how they approach their entrepreneurial endeavors with a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and engagement. Equally, I have been sadly surprised at how many are missing one key entrepreneurial skill - the skill of recovery. More importantly, they're missing Performance Recovery.
Many of these entrepreneurs basically work nonstop. They are full of drive to achieve their end results, but in mid-launch, they often find themselves not enjoying the ride as much as they once did. The spark in their eyes becomes a little duller, and their creative ideas don’t come quite so easily. They have lost some of their passion for their cause. By the time they've reached this point, they can’t (and won’t) stop.
A mindset that is characteristic for this group of go-getters is beautifully illustrated by a description I read on the website of a young entrepreneur's project, describing him as someone who:
"...can’t stop and won’t stop. That’s probably why coffee is his best friend. Running on sheer drive and a relentless vision, he will cross the finish line and keep on sprinting for miles. For him, there’s no point in slowing down when there’s limitless potential for change."
I find this last sentence particularly intriguing because someone once defined energy to me as the potential for change. The more energy you have, the more potential for change you have. And a lot of modern entrepreneurs think of themselves as game changers. The irony is that very few of these entrepreneurs have the Sustainable High Performance strategies to actually sustain this drive, which could be why such a high percentage of start-ups fail (8 out of 10 according to Bloomberg).
What does a relentless pace and not slowing down do to our energy levels? What does a huge passion without the strategies to sustain it do our emotional state? Do we really maximize our impact and our potential to change the game through nonstop effort? At Tignum, when we ask our clients these questions, we can see that "aha" moment when they realize the sad reality of the answers to these questions.
Picture a Formula One race team taking this approach - trying to win a highly competitive race, getting the most out of a highly engineered machine (nothing compared to the human brain and body), and never stopping for a pit stop. At Tignum, we view Performance Recovery strategies exactly as a race team views its pit stops. They are quick, they are strategic, they are designed, and they are a performance-enhancement tool.
What fascinates us is that many of these entrepreneurs pay amazing attention to detail. They prepare for their big pitches, and most approach their movement and nutrition with the same intensity that they pursue their dreams. Unfortunately, the key element that they have missed is strategically building in Performance Recovery. Many of these hard drivers are like addicts when it comes to the stimulation they get from their pursuits, and like an addict, they don't even notice their effectiveness, their creativity, and their impact suffering.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself as a quick check in:
_When you cross the finish line on a project, do you continue sprinting for miles or do you celebrate, reflect on your success, and allow yourself to restore your critical resources?
_Do you find your life has become one big sprint or do you oscillate daily so that you have short sprints followed by Performance Recovery?
_Do you plan for your recovery and build it into every day, every week, every month, and throughout the year?
As you reflect on these questions, remember that the more energy you have, the more potential for change is available to you and the more energy you have to give others to inspire change around you. There is nothing more powerful and exciting than a passionate entrepreneur with a great idea, a huge drive to positively impact the world, and the strategies to make the idea come to fruition.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.
By Chris Males
Director of Performance Coaching